I put my beloved beauty blender on the line so you don't have to.

Ashley Piszek/Unsplash

I put my beloved beauty blender on the line so you don’t have to.

Earlier this week I was sent a TikTok video that claimed that we should all be cleaning our beauty blenders with a mixture of hot water, dish soap and olive oil.

It looked effective, budget friendly and honestly, like it might be totally made up. I had to investigate for myself.

The first sign this video was potentially made for clout should is the voice-over.

Instead of instructional directions, the video is overlayed with one of those clickbait-y story time voice-overs that has no correlation to what’s playing on-screen. In this case a fantastical tale of infidelity that cuts off before the big reveal, assumedly to drive engagement with the account. I could ignore that, but not how suspiciously clean the final product was, almost as it was a totally new product.

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Social media is rife with fake beauty videos claiming they will revolutionise your makeup routine, and it’s best to approach them with a healthy dose of scepticism. But because I had all the ingredients on hand already – and my beauty blender was desperately in need of a good clean or replacing (which you should do every three-six months) – I figured there was no harm in trying.

My initial unfiltered reaction was – eww, won’t oil that oil get sucked up by the sponge, and then I’ll pat it directly into my (already oily prone) skin?

But a colleague, who has a side hustle as a makeup artist, suggested I view the addition of oil more like a double cleanse. In the same way that your micellar water bottle has a thin film of oil on the top, the lubricant here acts as a dual phase cleaner with the oil helping break down oil based makeup like mascara and foundation.

So, armed with the knowledge that there is maybe some scientific method to the madness, I ran the hot tap and poured out a glug of olive oil (the cheap and cheerful ‘mild’ sort, not EVOO – we’re in a cost of living crisis after all) into a bowl, with a squirt of dishwashing liquid.

Before my eyes, the sponge sucked up my DIY makeup remover and when I gave it a cursory prod with a chopstick, the liquid turned an opaque greyish cream colour.

Gone was the sudsy water and before me sat a bowl of resembled a rich bowl of Tonkotsu ramen, replete with oil flickers on the top.

Soup or muck?


Soup or muck?

Needing a moment to recover from the horror in front of me, I left the beauty blender to sit in the soupy pool for 10 minutes while I came to terms with my inner grub. When I returned 15 minutes later and gave the sponge a massage and rinse, a huge amount of orange liquid came out.

When I got sick of rinsing, the bottom two thirds of the sponge had returned to a pale orange colour, but the area around the pointed tip remained more subdued trouty tone.

A word of warning: take care when you wring your beauty blender out. Unsurprisingly, a sponge left to soak in hot water will absorb all that scolding hot liquid and then propel it back into your palm when squeezed. Ideally wear washing gloves.

The beauty blender pre-washing, after the oil and dish soap round, and after a wash with facial cleanser.


The beauty blender pre-washing, after the oil and dish soap round, and after a wash with facial cleanser.

So, does this hack work? I suppose that depends on your definition of ‘work’.

Did the oily, soapy concoction do a fairly good job at expelling a frankly atrocious amount of gunk from my beauty blender? Yes.

Did it do a markedly better job than plain hot water had done in the past? Not to my eyes. It certainly didn’t look totally box fresh like the one in the viral TikTok video.

I didn’t, however, conduct my experiment in strict test conditions. I don’t clean my tools nearly enough, and maybe if I had a more regular sanitation protocols in place there wouldn’t be so much accumulated muck to break down.

Because I wasn’t totally satisfied with the result, I followed up with a scrub using the cleanser I trust to rid gunk from my face, and it made easy work on the last spots of caked in foundation. Going forward I’ll go straight to this step.

Buy it new:

I placed the blender in the hot water cupboard overnight to dry out (in the summer months, I’d pop it on a sunny windowsill) and the next morning it was completely dry to the touch and noticeably softer and bouncier than I can remember it being.

The final verdict: yes, in a pinch, oil and dish soap will do an okay job of getting rid of the worst of your mucky beauty blender, but using your regular cleanser does a more effective job. Save the oil for dressings.