Beauty Blender makeup sponges hit the shelves in 2007 and have long been considered one of the highest-quality applicators available, and they aren’t cheap at $20 each.
This is why it can be so frustrating when you open up your makeup bag and find it covered in what looks like a layer of mold.
So, why has it grown mold in the first place, how can you identify which mold it is, are they dangerous, and how can you make sure your Beauty Blenders don’t get moldy again in the future?
In this article we will be answering all these questions and more, so, if you want never need to throw away your favorite Beauty Blender makeup sponges again, keep reading!
Beauty Blender makeup sponges can grow mold if they are not kept clean and dry. To prevent mold growth, do not store the sponges in humid rooms such as bathrooms. Instead, store in a cool well ventilated area, and clean with detergent twice per month to remove skin cells mold can use for sustenance.
Why does mold grow on Beauty Blenders?
Mold can grow on many types of surfaces providing that its needs are met, in order for mold to grow successfully, it only needs a few things, these are:
- A source of moisture
- A source of nutrients
- An ambient temperature between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit
- A lack of natural sunlight
Let’s explore the different ways you may be inadvertently providing these elements.
In order to grow, mold requires a humidity level greater than 55%. This percentage is often easily achieved in bathrooms, where many makeup items are stored for convenience.
Steam from showering and bathing in general brings the humidity level in the room to 55% and higher on a regular basis.
In certain climates, the Beauty Blender may not even need to be stored in the bathroom to suffer from high humidity, as states like Florida can reach 55% and greater on a regular basis. In this circumstance it is essential you keep the applicator as clean as possible, as we will explain below.
A source of nutrients
Mold can live off dust and decaying organic matter. As most dust is made up of dead skin cells, your Beauty Blender can provide a great source of nutrients for mold to feed off.
When using any makeup sponge, dead skin cells are shed from the surface of the skin and back onto the sponge itself. Unless it is cleaned on a regular basis, the cells build up and can mix with other organic materials to create the perfect food source for mold.
Mold can grow at varying temperatures, but the range in which it grows the fastest is between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Unfortunately, this also happens to be within the same range that most American households set their thermostats between for many months of the year.
Climate again needs to be taken into account, as more southern states can experience warm temperatures throughout the year, allowing mold to thrive year-round.
Lack of natural sunlight
As we will discuss later in more detail, where and how you store your Beauty Blender will make a big difference to the rate at which mold can grow on it.
The sun’s UV rays will kill mold and its spores on contact, however, as many makeup and applicators are stored in either the bathroom, a bag, or a drawer, they will often seldom see natural sunlight.
How to identify mold on a Beauty Blender
Being able to tell if you are dealing with a patch of mold growing on a Beauty Blender can be tricky, as often the amount is either too small to be seen, or it is growing within the sponge itself, and so not visible externally.
The most efficient way to determine if what you are dealing with is mold is to use your sense of smell. Upon opening the bag or container your sponge is stored in, see if you can notice any peculiar smells. If mold is present on the sponge, you will notice a slightly musty scent that may remind you of a damp basement.
What types of mold grow on Beauty Blenders?
There are over a hundred thousand strains of mold, however, there are three in particular that grow more frequently seen growing than others, these are:
Aspergillus – Depending on the strain of Aspergillus, coloration could be seen as either yellow-green or black with velvet or cotton-like texture.
Cladosporium – This strain usually appears with dark coloration such as black, brown-black, or gray-green, with a powdery texture.
Penicillium – Finally, Penicillium strains are often seen in patches with initially white coloration, which in time turns to blue-green, gray-green, yellow, or even pink, with a texture compared to velvet.
There is a high possibility that you are dealing with any of these three strains when tackling mold on a Beauty Blender. However, as previously mentioned, it may be very difficult to determine which strain by sight alone.
Should you wish to be certain which strain of mold you are dealing with (or if it is even mold at all), you can purchase a mold testing kit. After sending off a sample to a lab, you would have the results within a few weeks.
Mold testing kits can be pretty affordable, here’s one I found on Amazon.
Are the molds dangerous?
Yes, the strains of mold most likely growing on your Beauty Blender, can indeed be hazardous to your health.
These strains have the ability to produce a toxic substance called mycotoxins as a defense mechanism whenever they feel threatened. For some individuals who are allergic to mold spores, breathing issues, itching, coughing, and a runny nose are frequently reported symptoms.
However, even in healthy individuals, direct mold exposure to the skin can cause symptoms. As the Beauty Blender will be coming in direct contact with your skin as you apply makeup, you could suffer from symptoms such as:
- Skin irritation
- Raised and bumpy skin texture
- Dry patches
It is for these reasons that your Beauty Blender should be regularly cleaned to prevent the possibility of mold coming into direct contact with the skin (tips on how to do this later).
Can mold on a beauty Blender cause acne?
Yes, Beauty Blenders certainly can cause you to break out with acne. This is more often than not caused by a lack of cleaning of the sponge on a regular basis, leading to a buildup of bacteria that is then spread all over the face the next time you use it.
As stated, if your Beauty Blender has not been cleaned for a considerable time, it may have begun to develop mold, and skin coming into direct contact with mold or its spores can certainly also be a cause of acne.
How to clean a Beauty Blender makeup sponge
Ok, so, by this point, you know all about the dangers of mold growing on Beauty Blenders and you know why it happens, so let’s move on to how you can get rid of it.
You have a few options to use, so I’ll list each of them with step-by-step instructions.
Option 1 – The vinegar method
Pour 1 cup of white distilled vinegar into a bowl and place your Beauty Blender in it.
Whilst wearing rubber gloves and preferably a breathing mask for protection, squeeze the sponge and then let it absorb all of the vinegar. Do this several times so you can be sure the sponge is fully saturated.
Leave the sponge to soak in the vinegar for between 5-10 minutes to allow time for it to kill the mold and bacteria located in the sponge.
Step 3. (Optional)
If you really can’t stand the smell of vinegar, you have the option to rinse the sponge out and then clean it with detergent. Applying a few drops of household detergent, squeezing it through the sponge, and rinsing it out with warm water a few times will certainly remove most of the odor. Any leftover smell will disappear within a few days.
Arguably the most important step in this process is to ensure the sponge is completely dry as quickly as possible. If it is left out in a damp condition, mold will begin to form again very quickly.
If possible, leave your Beauty Blender in direct sunlight and allow it to dry fully. If this is not possible, leave it in a warm location (such as near a radiator), so that the moisture can evaporate as quickly as possible.
The soap method
If you really can’t stand the smell of vinegar, another good option is to just use good old-fashioned soap to clean out your Beauty Blender. If possible, aim for a specifically anti-bacterial soap, as this will be more effective.
Step 1. Take a bar of soap in one hand and your Beauty Blender in the other. After running the sponge under warm water for a few seconds, you can press it down onto the soap and begin to scrub.
Step 2. Whilst again wearing rubber gloves to avoid skin contact with the mold, gently massage the soap into the sponge to ensure all the internal parts have been thoroughly saturated.
Step 3. Rinse the soapy sponge out with warm water, and repeat several times as needed. This will remove all the soap and mold residue.
Step 4. Leave the sponge to dry in a warm location, or again, preferably in direct sunlight to dry the sponge as quickly as possible.
The microwave method
If you want to make absolutely certain that there is no mold or bacteria living in or on your Beauty Blender, an excellent method for killing it is to put it in the microwave.
Do not be tempted to just put your Beauty Blender in the microwave and hit start, or you’ll end up with a melted sponge, instead, use the following steps.
Step 1. Place your Beauty Blender in a small bowl. Add a small amount of detergent and add enough water to be able to cover the sponge completely.
Step 2. Squeeze the sponge a few times in the soapy water so that it can be absorbed and detergent is passed equally through the sponge.
Step 3. Place the bowl with the detergent-saturated Beauty Blender in the microwave and set the timer for one minute on full power.
Step 4. Remove from the microwave carefully. The water will be hot, so be sure to use oven gloves as some dishes can become hot when microwaves (especially ceramic ones).
Once cooled, squeeze out the remaining detergent and rinse under warm water to remove the detergent and mold residue.
Repeat the steps above if required.
How to prevent mold growing on a Beauty Blender
Rather than needing to go to the effort of cleaning out a moldy or mildew-infested Beauty Blender, or worse, throwing it in the trash, preventing mold from growing on it in the first place is a far better option.
Preventing mold isn’t particularly complex, and to stop it from happening on your sponge, you can use the following tips.
Keep it dry
As we have stated, if there is one thing that mold needs and loves, it’s moisture. Without it, it simply cannot live, so take it away and prevent the problem entirely.
Keeping it dry means that you need to make sure after each use the sponge is cleaned and dried as quickly as possible. Mold can begin to grow in the right circumstances in only 24 hours, so you need to act fast.
After it’s been used and cleaned, put the Beauty Blender in a warm and dry place, preferably in direct sunlight. If that’s not possible, leave it next to a warm area such as near a radiator, it shouldn’t take too long to dry this way.
Clean it regularly
You may be surprised to hear that the official stance is that your Beauty Blender should be cleaned thoroughly after each and every use. This prevents the buildup of makeup products, bacteria, and potentially mold.
A deep clean will not be necessary each time you use it, a simple rinse out with warm soapy water should do the job.
It might also be a good idea to keep it away from other items in makeup bags or anywhere else you have multiple items that could be dirty, as any bacteria could be passed right back onto your freshly cleaned Beauty Blender.
Be careful where you store it
Taking the first two points into consideration, you need to be careful where you keep a Beauty Blender. Leaving it out on the counter of a bathroom is certainly a bad idea due to the high moisture levels, but so also is leaving it in a dirty makeup bag.
Instead, aim to keep it in as dry and cool a location as possible, preferably with a good amount of ventilation. A ventilated pouch for example would provide plenty of airflow, and as long as other dirty items weren’t placed in it also, it would remain clean.
Here is a good example on Amazon of a ventilated pouch to store your Beauty Blender
If you’re looking for makeup sponge-specific storage, click the links to be taken to the Amazon pages for them.
When should you throw away a Beauty Blender?
There comes a time when every sponge or Beauty Blender has had its day, and if after cleaning multiple times you cannot remove stains or the smell of mold, it may just be better to throw it out.
If you replace the sponge, I would heavily suggest using the tips above on mold prevention, this way you won’t need to keep forking out for new Beauty Blenders every few months.
Beauty Blenders are incredibly popular due to their smooth and smear-free application of makeup. However, poor storage choices and a lack of regular cleaning can make them a hotbed for mold and bacteria growth.
Removing mold from a Beauty Blender is a fairly simple process, but using the prevention techniques outlined in this article will save you a whole heap of time, effort, and money.