By now you (hopefully!) know that your beloved beauty tools — from your makeup brushes to your shower sponge — require a little tender loving care every now and then. But one TikTok clip going viral shows what can happen when you fail to thoroughly clean your hairbrush. And yes, it’s equally disgusting and captivating, particularly if you never believed you needed to clean a hairbrush.
TikTok user Jessica Haizman recently shared the outcome of giving her hairbrushes a 30-minute “bath” in the sink, asking her followers: “Have you ever cleaned your hairbrushes? And I’m not just referring to removing hair from them — we all know to do that once in a while.”
Haizman asserted in her video that “you should clean your hairbrushes every two weeks.” She then explained the technique she employed to thoroughly cleanse her brushes: She started by extracting “as much hair as [she] could” with the assistance of a fine-tooth comb. Then she submerged her brushes in a sink filled with water and a combination of baking soda and shampoo, agitated the mixture to penetrate the brushes, and allowed them to soak for half an hour.
“Immediately, the water began to turn brown and unsightly,” she shared, displaying the rust-colored water that remained after the 30-minute soak. “Here’s the appearance of the water, and I don’t dye my hair or use much product,” she added. (Yuck.) She concluded by rinsing each brush thoroughly and letting them air dry completely by placing them flat on a dry towel.
If this revelation leaves you feeling more than a little repulsed (which is understandable!), the good news is that you probably have very little cause for concern, even if you’ve been neglecting to clean your hairbrushes.
“The only reason you should clean your hairbrush is to reduce the presence of parasites and excessive amounts of bacteria or fungus residing on your hairbrush,” says William Gaunitz, certified trichologist and founder of Advanced Trichology. “If you have an excessively oily scalp and/or any scalp condition, such as dandruff or an itchy scalp, you might be experiencing an overgrowth of bacteria or fungus.” In such cases, Gaunitz continues, you should clean your brush approximately once every week or so, as “you could easily continue to infect your hair and scalp every time you use your hairbrush with whatever is present on your hairbrush.”
That being said, even if your scalp isn’t overly oily or you don’t have a scalp condition, Gaunitz advises cleaning your hairbrush once every eight to 12 weeks because, regardless of your hair-care routine or hair health, everyone accumulates some natural residue on the bristles of their hairbrushes. “Even if you don’t use a lot of product, naturally when you comb your hair, you are exfoliating skin cells, scalp oil (sebum), and dead hairs that end up entangling around the bristles of the brush,” Gaunitz explains.
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As with any skin, hair, or scalp concern, if you’re experiencing an itchy, parched, flaky scalp or anything else that worries you, consult your doctor. But if you simply wish to make a more focused effort to cleanse your hairbrushes occasionally, Gaunitz supports Haizman’s recommendation to use a half-cup of baking soda mixed with water. However, he suggests incorporating tea tree oil instead of shampoo for an effective combination. “Utilizing something alkaline, such as baking soda, will raise the pH and aid in breaking down hardened substances on the hairbrush. However, you must also address the potential for excessive microbial growth,” he explains. According to him, tea tree oil will help eliminate parasites, fungi, and bacteria. (In case you didn’t know, tea tree oil can also serve as an excellent acne spot treatment.)
And if you want to promote overall hair and scalp health, you may consider switching to a boar-bristle brush, according to Gaunitz. “The gentle yet firm bristles naturally redistribute sebum across the scalp, exfoliate dead skin cells, and appear to resist excessive buildup on the bristles,” he explains. “Realistically, though, any high-quality, wide-toothed brush with a mild level of rigidity should suffice for the average person, as long as they clean it regularly.” (Try this Mason Pearson dupe that’s just as impressive as the popular boar bristle brush.) Washing your hairbrush is a viral TikTok trend, which, along with removing dead skin cells from your body using exfoliating gloves, is actually worth doing.
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