This article was originally published on InStyle.
A Beautyblender isn’t a regular sponge—it’s a cool sponge. But despite its fame among celebrity makeup artists, its hot pink outfit, and its popularity on Instagram, at the end of the day it’s still a beauty tool you wipe all over your face, and one that needs to be regularly cleaned. FYI, the annoying part about this is that sponges are notoriously difficult to clean because they are porous and absorb water, product, and can grow bacteria inside.
So, because we’re not about throwing away a $20 sponge every time we need to apply foundation, we reached out to a pro—one who exclusively uses Beautyblenders as her sponge of choice—to find out exactly how to give it a good scrub down.
“Beautyblenders have a unique ability to absorb water, which expands their shape,” says editorial makeup artist Lindsey Williams of the product you love so much. “When the sponge is at its fullest absorption, it soaks up far less product, allowing the foundation to be applied to the skin and not soaked into the sponge.” Good news: This also means it’s easier to clean than the average sponge.
First, Williams says it’s important to find the right cleanser. She recommends solids like the Blendercleanser Solid ($16; sephora.com) or Laino Savon De Marseille Soap ($18; walmart.com) because they’re gentle and effective. You can also use liquid brush cleansers, or the same cleanser you use on your face.
To begin, she recommends fully immersing the sponge in warm water under the tap. “If I have a lot of sponges from a full day of multiple models, then I’ll use a bowl with warm water and drop my sponges to soak.”
Next, she gently “swirls and lathers” the sponges on the aforementioned soaps and massages the tool into the sponges.
“A word of advice: Lather, massage, repeat! One lather, massage, and rinse usually isn’t enough. Allow the soap to break apart product buildup within the sponge. You’ll know you have a clean sponge when the suds you squeeze out are clear from foundation tones,” she says.
Finally, she squeezes out as much water as possible. This will allow to sponges to dry faster. “Let the sponges fully air dry as well before placing them back into a closed container, or you may find your half damp, sealed sponges have decided to mold.”
While she says there are probably several different ways to clean sponges, she says she always encourages people to soap and rinse several times with each sponge. Oh, and this isn’t a once a week activity. Williams says they should be cleaned after every use.
“Think of your makeup tools like your eating utensils,” she says. “Would you eat dinner, set your fork on the counter, and pick it back up the next morning for breakfast without fulling cleaning it? EW! Bacteria is bacteria no matter what tool we use. I highly recommend people buy several sponges. This way you can grab a new sponge each day, and after a few days you can wash them all at once.”
As for when it’s time to toss your sponge and buy a new one, she says you’ll know when it’s time for a shopping trip when the Beautyblender begins to break apart, feels flimsy, or fades from excessive washing. “The Beautyblender has a signature pink, so as it fades out to a light pastel pink, it’s a good clue to toss it.”