How to Properly Clean Your Makeup Brushes

How to Properly Clean Your Makeup Brushes

OK, don’t freak out, but your makeup brushes are gross! Although the good news is that you’re not alone (few among us really wash our brushes as often as we should), the bad news is that you really, really need to wash them pronto before you use them again! Not sure even how? Don’t worry--in this article we’ll discuss how to clean makeup brushes, what makeup brush cleaner does, and why it’s so important to keep these little tools nice and clean.


Main Takeaways: Makeup brushes are like little petri dishes for bacteria and mold which is why it’s so important to make sure you clean them on a weekly basis.

Good to Know: Although it’s useful, you don’t necessarily need to spend money on brush cleaners — the back of your hand makes a great surface for getting the gunk out of your brushes!

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Why You Need to Clean Your Makeup Brushes

If you’re like a lot of us, you probably use your makeup brushes every day without even giving a thought to whether they’re clean or not. But like a lot of things, once you do realize how much gunk is probably on them you’re going to be horrified (like, people-running-from-Godzilla-in-a-movie horrified).

And just to be clear, the fact that your brushes get dirty has nothing to do with how clean or not clean your house is. There’s a good chance that you, like a lot of people, may keep your brushes in the bathroom. That means the humidity from your shower or bath could be causing mildew or even mold to form on your brushes.

Not only that, but even in the cleanest of homes, dust just settles on things and that includes your make-up brushes. In addition to dust, the brushes also absorb dirt and oil from your skin as well as makeup and skincare products like oils, lotions, sunscreen, and pretty much anything else you can think of. When that gunk builds up it can cause all sorts of issues like serious breakouts, irritation, and, if you’re not careful, even infection, especially when it comes to the area around your eyes.

And if you happen to share your brushes with other people, that can really be dangerous — the only thing worse than spreading your own dirt and oil around your face is spreading someone else’s — consider this: although it’s rare, it’s not unthinkable that makeup brushes (especially those made for lipstick) can even spread some STDs from person to person.

Clearly this isn’t as crucial as avoiding infections, but a dirty brush will also make it difficult to apply makeup well. All that gunk will make your makeup go on unevenly and you might even find it spreads old makeup on your face.

The bottom line is that these brushes are exposed to a lot and we need to clean them out much more often than we realize!

How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes

Now that we’ve (hopefully) convinced you to make a regular habit out of cleaning your makeup brushes, here’s how you go about it.

1. You know how when you dust a piece of furniture, you generally go over it once with a dry cloth to get the top layer of dirt off so it doesn’t just become a gross, disgusting mess when you use a liquid or spray to really clean it? Well, that’s sort of what you need to do with your makeup brushes.

First, take your makeup brush and bang it against the lip of a sink. This will help loosen and remove power, dust, or even dead skin lurking in the hairs of the brush. For really dirty brushes, you might even want to rub the brush against a dry paper towel or even an old washcloth.

2. Put a very gentle soap with no harsh ingredients or artificial fragrances in a bowl (our So Clean! natural facial cleanser works perfectly!) and dip the brush in the bowl. A little usually goes a long way but you do want to make sure the brush is saturated with soap. You can then run the brush under warm water or dip it in a bowl of warm water you’ve already prepared. No need to really soak it — you just need enough to get a small lather going.

3. Use a brush cleaner and rub the brush on it to get the soap deep into the bristles (if you don’t have one or just don’t want to spend the money, you can use the back of your hand to get the lather going). You can even take your hand and just gently fan out the bristles to make sure the soap is really getting in there. At this point, prepare to be amazed — if you use your makeup brushes every day you’re going to be shocked at the amount of makeup that comes out of them.

You may need to wash off the soap lather a few times to really get the brush fully clean. Once the lather is clear (meaning you no longer see the color of the makeup that was on it), you should be good to rinse it.

4. Rinse the brush thoroughly until it no longer foams with soap. Once you’ve done that, gently take a paper towel and blot out whatever water you can. Lay out a clean paper towel or washcloth and rest the brushes on it until they’re dry (and of course, remember to put them in a clean spot). If you notice any of your brushes have lost their shape a bit in the cleaning process, gently force them back into shape before they dry.

One thing you probably don’t want to do is put them back upright to dry as you don’t want water to go don’t into the brush holder and collect as it can cause rust and bacteria to form.

If you’re not crazy about using soap, you can actually just put a little makeup remover in a bowl and use that instead. It’s also a good idea to clean your brushes one at a time to make sure you really get out all the dirt, oil, and product that’s lurking in there.

Remember, too, to be gentle with your brushes. Handling them too roughly when you fan out the bristles or put them under water can hurt the shape of the brush or even cause bristles to fall out.

How Often Should You Clean Your Makeup Brushes?

How often you clean your brushes depends on how often you use them but if you’re someone who uses them every day, then once a week to every ten days should do the trick. While that may seem like a lot of work, when you see how filthy your brushes are, you’ll probably want to clean them even more than that.

We hope that convinces you to make cleaning your brushes a regular part of your skincare routine! Given how little time it takes, it’s a small price to pay to avoid serious skin irritation or worse!

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