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How Long Do Makeup Brushes Last? 7 Signs It’s Time to Replace Yours

IT Cosmetics guide to how long makeup brushes last.

We hate to break it to you, but makeup brushes, sadly, don’t last forever. Like many of our favorite beauty essentials, they eventually lose their original luster and stop working as well as they once did. So how long do makeup brushes last, then? And how do you know when to throw away makeup brushes and get a new bouquet of bristles? Keep reading to discover the top signs your old makeup brushes are ready to meet the bin.

What Is the Life of Makeup Brushes?

So here’s the DL on how long makeup brushes last: Depending on the quality and the care you show them, makeup brushes can last anywhere from a year to a decade. However, many need replacement every three to five years.

Routinely cleaning your makeup brushes can help them last longer, so aim for once-weekly washing to keep them in tip-top shape. You can also gently wash makeup brushes after every use if you prefer, but weekly cleaning is considered excellent makeup hygiene! For cleaning on the go, opt for a few spritzes of IT’s Your Brush Love Makeup Brush Cleaner will get the job done.

How Do You Know When to Throw out Makeup Brushes?

If you’ve kept up with cleaning your makeup brushes but are still dealing with the following issues, then it’s officially time to replace them. (Worst case scenario: You’re going shopping!)

1. They Look Frazzled

Makeup brushes can lose their shape over time, which ultimately impacts performance. Think wayward bedhead bristles, dents, bends, and beyond. Deformed brushes often occur when they’re not washed, dried, or stored properly.

2. Bristles Are Falling Out

In addition to looking unkempt, old makeup brushes can start to experience bristle shedding. You may notice that the brush looks thinner than it once did, or even see bristles in the bottom of your makeup bag or on your face after using the brush.

3. The Bristles Are Super Stiff

New brushes are luxuriously fluffy and soft. With consistent usage, though, bristles can start to feel stiff and uncomfortable against your skin. No sense in using makeup brushes that make you say, “ouch!”

4. The Handle Has Seen Better Days

Brush heads aren’t the only part of a makeup brush susceptible to expiration. Handles can also start to fall apart or look and feel really worn. If the brush isn’t comfortable to hold or doesn’t stay together, it’s time to say au revoir.

5. Your Makeup Doesn’t Apply Nicely Anymore

Sometimes it’s tricky to know when to throw away makeup brushes since they often lose their luster slowly over a stretch of time. If you notice that your brush doesn’t deposit your foundation, concealer, blush, or eyeshadow as well as it once did, that could indicate it’s past its prime.

Pro Tip: Sometimes this occurs when there’s product buildup, so give your makeup brush a good deep clean, lay it flat to dry, and try it again to see if that makes a difference.

6. They Smell Not-So-Great

If anything in your makeup bag smells off—including your makeup brushes—it’s best to part ways. Stinky makeup brushes indicate mildew, mold, or bacteria growth. Your skin says, “No thanks!” to that.

7. You’re Breaking Out

Sometimes makeup brushes can harbor dirt, grime, or bacteria without smelling bad. If you notice an increase in skin irritation or breakouts after using your brushes, pay attention. Cleaning them can help, but if the irritation persists then toss ‘em.

Our Favorite High-Quality Makeup Brushes

To reiterate what we mentioned above, how often you should replace makeup brushes ultimately depends on the quality of the brushes and whether they’ve been given consistent TLC. You can get years out of high-quality brushes, so shop accordingly!

Here at IT Cosmetics, we believe that great brushes give you great skin. That’s why our ultra plush and cruelty-free makeup brushes with ergonomic handles do the work for you to apply your face makeup with a flawless finish. These are some of our favorite makeup brushes that will last a long time when cared for properly:

How Long Does Makeup Last?

Since you’ve been fully briefed on how long makeup brushes last, you might as well double check the expiration date on all your other favorite makeup products. What happens if you use expired makeup, you ask? Nothing good. The products don’t apply as nicely and you also run the risk of skin breakouts and irritation. It’s just not worth it to save a few bucks.

Makeup expiration dates are often much shorter compared to makeup brushes. On our products, check that packaging for a jar icon with a number followed by an m that indicates how many months a product is good for. Here’s how long to keep makeup:

  • Mascara: How long does mascara last? The rule of thumb is about three months. Anything you place close to your eyes should be replaced frequently enough to prevent bacterial infections.

  • Eyeliner: Like mascara, eyeliner should be replaced every three months. Cutting the tip off (or sharpening the product) can help stretch its lifespan a bit longer, but toss it if the consistency dries out or changes.

  • Water and Cream Products: Any wet products formulated with water or cream should be replaced every nine to 12 months. This includes CC creams, cream blushes, and concealer. You may need to replace them more frequently if you have reactive or sensitive skin.

  • Powder Products: While you’d think powder products may last longer than liquid formulations, it’s still best to replace them every nine to 12 months. And yes, eyeshadow does expire, too!

  • Lipstick and Lip Gloss: The likelihood of lipstick or gloss growing bacteria is pretty low since they’re not formulated with water. However, since they’re applied near your mouth it’s a good idea to replace every six to 12 mon

  • SPF Products: Always replace SPF products by the expiration date listed on the product packag


Now that you’ve discovered how often you should replace makeup brushes, take a second to review the major do's and don'ts of skin health.

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