Beauty Blender - Lead
Credit: Courtesy; Time Inc. Digital Studios (4)

Since hatching in 2007, the egg-shaped Beautyblender has found its way into the kits of makeup artists, actresses, and everyday women the world over. But despite its popularity, one mystery still surrounds the sponge: How long can you get away with using the same one? We talked to Edward Cruz, celebrity makeup artist and Beautyblender brand ambassador, about the telltale signs it’s time for a refresh.

You’ve had it for more than three months
In an ideal world world, “you should replace your Beautyblender every other month,” says Cruz. But at $20 a pop, we understand taking pains to care for your sponge properly, which, according to Cruz, can stretch its life closer to three months. That means using either a liquid or bar cleanser (Beautyblender makes both, though a generic brush cleaner does the job, too) after every use. While the sponge is damp, cover it completely in cleanser before rinsing with warm water, says Cruz.

It’s starting to deteriorate
Though Beautyblenders are made with high-grade foam, daily wear and tear can cause the material to break down and “deform a bit,” warns Cruz. And, since its signature egg shape is one of the key benefits, you’re doing yourself a disservice by using a mangled version.

VIDEO: How To Use a Beautyblender

You’re breaking out for "no reason"
Many things can bring on a breakout, like stress and hormones. But if you haven’t been cleaning and storing your Beautyblender properly, you might be looking at another cause. Gunk and bacteria can build up on a neglected sponge and in turn, end up on your face. Aside from practicing the cleansing methods above, make sure to store your Beautyblender away from other makeup tools. “Many people don’t realize that the outer packaging for their Beautyblender is actually meant to be saved,” says Cruz. “It protects the sponge and can even house it when the tool is damp, since there are holes [in the case] that allow air to pass through."

It remains discolored, even after you wash it
It’s normal for the vibrant pink of your Beautyblender to fade a bit with regular use. But, if it gets to the point that makeup remnants have clouded the sponge entirely, it’s probably time for a replacement. Otherwise, the buildup may cause subsequent makeup to appear discolored, especially if you use the same sponge for everything from foundation to blush.