Throw Your Beautyblender Away Immediately If You Notice This

We love makeup and there's no chance we're letting go of our beauty obsession any time soon. We have a sheer foundation for daytime brunch and a full-coverage one for nighttime, and we could never resist a good eyeshadow palette. When it comes to mascara, we need a volumizing, lengthening formula and a subtle one for day-to-day, because a beauty lover needs options. The makeup industry is now valued at a whopping $532 billion (via Business Insider), making it a whole new world.

While buying actual makeup is essential, so are the tools used to apply it. While generations past wouldn't think of applying foundation without a  brush, makeup sponges like the ubiquitous Beautyblender completely changed the game. As per Racked, the Beautyblender brand rose to prominence in 2007, selling more than 6.5 million sponges. With its rounded shape and soft material that's perfect for soaking up water to create an airbrushed effect with foundation, it's no surprise that Beautyblenders are so popular. If you have one, you probably love it — but you might be using it way past its expiration date.

Your Beautyblender has a bad smell

The number one sign you should throw away your Beautyblender and get a new one is quite obvious, but you would be shocked at how many people stretch out their sponge's lifetime and ignore this sign. If your Beautyblender has a foul smell, it's time to throw it in the trash. Just as you would discard curdled milk you left in the fridge accidentally while on vacation, Beautyblenders with a bad smell should be immediately tossed in the garbage. Chances are, your sponge smells bad because of organic material — your own skin's particles.

If you just bought your Beautyblender this month and it's already smelling bad, you might not have to throw it away yet. As dermatologist Ava Shamban explained to Allure, "for blenders and sponges, you should wash regularly ... if they're really wet and smelly, they can be placed in the washing machine," then air-dried in a well-ventilated area. A new, foul-smelling Beautyblender can be washed, but if the bad scent has been ingrained for quite some time, you need to toss it. This might be a sign your sponge is rotting, or has bacteria-filled foundation on the inside (via Reddit).

You've had your sponge more than three months

Another sign your Beautyblender's destined for the trash can? If you've had it more than three months. While we're all about reduce, reuse and recycle, and try to be environmentally friendly whenever possible, using a Beautyblender for more than three months can actually be dangerous to your health.

As per Real Simple, old Beautyblenders are laden with all kinds of harmful germs. A 2019 UK study showed that a slew of beauty products, including makeup sponges and lip gloss, can be hosts to "deadly superbugs" like E.coli and Staphylococci. This bacteria "can cause illnesses ranging from skin infections to blood poisoning," especially if used on open skin like popped pimples, or around the eyes and mouth. The reason behind it? Not cleaning your makeup and tools often enough, or using them for way too long. And blenders are the worst suspect in this scenario; in the study, scientist Amreen Bashir, PhD, wrote: "consumers' poor hygiene practices when it comes to using makeup, especially [makeup] blenders, is very worrying ... we found bacteria such as E.coli ... breeding on the products we tested." Moreover, Beautyblender brand ambassador Edward Cruz told InStyle that the sponges should be replaced every other month, but you can go for every three months if you clean it every time you use it.

You're suddenly breaking out

If you're suddenly experiencing acne breakouts on your face for apparently no reason, think about how long you've had your Beautyblender for and how often you've washed it. Sure, your retinol might not be doing the job anymore or your new moisturizer might be the culprit, but a Beautyblender that's past its prime will only add insult to injury and might very well cause pimples to form.

As per Real Simple, research on the subject has shown that makeup blenders have "the highest levels of potentially harmful bacteria" out of all other beauty tools and products tested. Loading concealer on your face might include acne-causing germs, but your Beautyblender is the likelier reason for your breakouts. As per the study, a wet or damp sponge is the "ideal breeding ground for harmful bacteria," so regularly replacing your Beautyblender is paramount in keeping your skin clear. As makeup expert Edward Cruz explained to InStyle, old sponges are overloaded with "gunk" that leads to pimples, so throwing them away and buying new ones is crucial.

If you don't want to throw away a new Beautyblender but are already experiencing breakouts, Cruz recommends keeping it in the plastic packaging at all times, since it has ventilation that allows it to dry properly. Similarly, makeup artist Mai Quynh told Teen Vogue that leaving your sponge to dry completely before storing is important to "avoid bacterial growth and mold, which can cause breakouts."

Your Beautyblender has stains that just won't go away

There's one telltale sign you should throw away your Beautyblender that you might not suspect: You should always throw out a Beautyblender that has stains that just won't go away with washing. This one is controversial, because many people see a stained Beautyblender as a regular occurrence. Even the company's creator, Rea Ann Silva, made a black version of the sponge to hide ugly stains (via Racked). But a black Beautyblender can actually be dangerous, because seeing stains is crucial in knowing when it's time to let go of your sponge for good.

As Edward Cruz explained to InStyle, a bit of color fading is okay, and is no reason to throw away a new sponge. That being said, splotches of foundation stains that won't wash off is a sign of bacteria and germs, and might even affect your Beautyblender's efficacy. Makeup expert Katie Jane Hughes agrees, telling Teen Vogue, "when you notice the sponge loses the vibrancy of its color ... it's time to trade it in." So if that classic, bright, hot pink color has turned into a beige-peach mess, your Beautyblender is best trashed, not used on a daily basis. In truth, as per Blue Augustine, old makeup on your sponge can alter the color of the makeup you apply, so buying a new sponge is important for your skin's health and your flawless beauty look.

Your sponge is broken, has tears, or leaves particles on your face

While this one seems truly obvious, you might be shocked at the sheer number of people who continue to use a torn or damaged Beautyblender. A ratty, broken, torn up Beautyblender is a surefire reason to throw it away, and it's not just because a torn Beautyblender is less than aesthetically pleasing.

As MUA Katie Jane Hughes told Teen Vogue, anytime a makeup sponge "starts to fall apart" is enough of a reason to throw it away (she recommends tossing it once a month, but three months seems to be the industry standard). Beauty expert Kritika Shetty told Vogue that a makeup sponge should be replaced if it "develops cracks and starts crumbling." This means your Beautyblender is long gone, and might not be smoothly depositing makeup on your face anymore, either. If this is the case, Shetty says you should "immediately discard it and get a new one," and as per Blue Augustine, same goes for a sponge that leaves tiny particles on your face along with your foundation.

Your sponge is seriously misshapen

Beautyblenders are famous for their sloped, spherical shape that smooths out makeup much better than flat, single-use sponges. The angled point at the top makes it perfect for blending out concealer under the eyes, while the dome at the bottom is great for larger areas. As explained by Racked, the Beautyblender is a downright revolutionary product that changed the makeup industry as we know it, and it's all down to its shape. It makes sense that a misshapen Beautyblender defeats its purpose, and is best left to the trash.

If you're seeing your makeup sponge begin to "deform a bit," Edward Cruz told InStyle that it's time to say goodbye. A Beautyblender's functionality is all about its "egg shape." Plus, a misshapen sponge is a sign of deterioration, meaning a build-up of bacteria and germs on the inside. As dermatologist Ava Shamban explained to Allure, "the sponges become filled with skin cells and bacteria can overgrow in that area." Key signs of this include discoloration and, yes, a change in shape. This buildup of bacteria and germs is harmful to your skin's health; in fact, as per Shamban, "if there are any potential allergens remaining in the sponge after makeup application, then it's conceivable that repeated contact could lead to an inflammatory rash."