Emily Baines
January 15, 2017 12:13 pm
Miles Willis / Getty Images

How often do you clean your makeup brushes? If your answer is a deafening silence, you might want to check out these pictures below. Just because your makeup brushes look clean doesn’t mean they are. Reddit user Onionyeoja shared close-up pictures of her makeup brushes after only three weeks of use on Imgur…and the pictures will make you want to start scrubbing away. No wonder makeup artist Kayleen McAdams recommends washing your brushes every two weeks. Meanwhile, New York City dermatologist Ellen Marmur says washing your brushes once a month is fine. Regardless, after you see these pictures, you’ll want to get cleaning ASAP.

Makeup brushes…under the harsh light of a close-up.

While the pictures are beautiful (in a disgusting sort of way), we definitely feel the need to take a shower after looking at them.

After all, if you don’t clean your makeup brushes and sponges, these are just five of the gross things that will happen.

1Bacteria Buildup

As Artis Brush Founder and Former MAC Senior Executive Matthew Waitesmith explains: “The problems can come when the brush you are using provides a moist, warm environment and becomes a petri dish that help the microbes breed faster in the hairs of the brush.”

Gross. These microbe colonies can easily get out of hand and become breeding grounds for all sorts of disgusting bacteria.

2Breakout bummers

That’s right, dirty brushes lead to breakouts. As Waitersmith points out, unclean brushes “can trigger your skin to try and control the overloaded layer by reacting to it with a rash, or blistering, or skin eruptions.” Perhaps that explains the zit that will never quit…

3Irritated Skin

Bacteria triggers breakouts, yes. But it also can cause your skin to become seriously irritated. If you clean your brushes regularly, your brushes will remain soft and pleasnat on the face. Remember, the gunkier and filthier your brush, the stiffer the bristles become. Your brush shouldn’t feel hard!

4Viral Infections

Because we aren’t already scared enough, be warned: sharing cosmetics and brushes with others opens you up to larger, even more disgusting problems…especially if those brushes are not clean. Waitersmith warns, “Sharing your brush with anyone else complicates the issue by introducing their normal microbes onto your skin, which may not tolerate the ‘foreign’ microbes well, causing a reaction.” As Bustle adds, “This reaction can be as small as a breakout or as intense as catching an infection like pink eye or herpes.” No. No no NO.

5Clogged Pores

No surprise here, considering all the other warnings we’ve shared. Old makeup that’s made its home in our dirty brushes will clog our pores and oil glands. This leads to breakouts. The longer your brushes go unwashed, you’ll just spread that gross dirt to your face and back again. A never-ending cycle of horror.

Now ladies, step away from the computer and get cleaning!