How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes

Cleansing routines have come a long way. What was once a sweep of a wipe across the face now takes a significant amount of steps, products, and minutes out of our evenings. The majority of us have established what is required to leave our faces squeaky clean at the end of the day. However, our makeup brushes may be counteracting all of this hard work. We simply don’t put the same amount of effort into cleaning the tools that we rub against our faces. We wouldn’t touch our faces with dirty hands, so why is the build up of residue and product on our makeup brushes easily overlooked? Here’s all you need to know about how to clean your makeup brushes.

makeup brushes with coloured pigments and powders

How often should you clean your makeup brushes?

The first question that springs to mind is how often should you clean your makeup brushes? Brushes are an essential part of every makeup bag. Without them, how would we blend foundation seamlessly into the neck, set concealer under the eyes, and dust blush on the cheeks?

If you wear makeup every day, it’s likely you get a lot of use out of your brushes. Therefore, those used to apply the bulk of your makeup- such as foundation, powder and concealer brushes, should be washed at least once a week, especially if you bring them with you on your travels.

However, how often you should clean your makeup brushes is not only based on how often you use them, but also what they’re used for. According to Healthfully.com, “moist areas are particularly prone to bacterial growth”. This means that any brushes used to apply liquid products should get top priority. You should also treat the brushes you use to apply liquids to an extra wash and wipe every now and again.

Brushes used to blend out eyeshadows should be cleaned between each use, we don’t want any pigmented colors running into each other.

How to DIY makeup brush cleaner

It’s often said that the way how to clean makeup brushes is with baby shampoos or professional solutions.

However, there is always a homemade alternative. You may have already heard of baking soda being an unsuspecting beauty ingredient, creeping its way into teeth-brushing routines. That’s right, baking soda can also multi-function as a DIY makeup brush cleaner. Simply add two tablespoons to a cup of warm water and you have your own, homemade solution.

makeup brushes tip

Another thorough DIY makeup brush cleaner is the combination of olive oil and dish soap. A few drops of olive oil will loosen the makeup from the bristles while the dish soap actually cleans the brush. Dish soap on its own is drying, so the olive oil helps to condition the bristles and keep them soft. Simply combine 1 part olive oil and 2 parts dish soap in a dish.

You can also add a detoxifying hair shampoo into your brush cleaning routine every few months. This type of shampoo is designed to remove a build up off product off the hair, so you can be sure it works well for the bristles of your makeup brushes too.

How to clean your makeup brushes step-by-step

To clean your makeup brushes using a DIY makeup brush cleaner, the olive oil and dish soap formula combined with warm water is the best option. This combination will lift the residue and build up from the bristles and rinse it off the brush. Here’s a step-by-step on how to disinfect your makeup brushes:

  1. One by one, run the brush under the tap with the bristles facing down. Be careful when rinsing the bristles so that no water creeps into the handle of the brush. This can damage the glue that holds the bristles in.
  2. Swirl the brush gently in the soap and olive oil mixture, separating the bristles with your fingers so all areas are covered.
  3. Rub the brush back and forth on the back of your hand to get out any makeup that’s stuck in the bristles.
  4. Place the brushes back under the tap and rinse thoroughly until the water runs clear through the brush.

clean makeup brushes

How to dry makeup brushes after washing them

Now that you know how to give your makeup brushes a deep clean, it’s time to learn how to dry them.

Gently press on the bristles with your fingers to release excess water. Lay the brushes down on a paper towel with the bristles facing down and the handles slightly elevated. This will allow the water to drain properly rather than getting trapped in the brush and the elevated handle helps the make-up brush to dry out more evenly. You can also put the brushes on a table with the bristles hanging over the side. This allows for air to circulate around the brush and helps them dry consistently and quickly.

As previously mentioned, bacteria thrive in warm, damp conditions. Make sure to store the brushes in their own cool, dry place such as a cannister and keep them clear of the bathroom.

Once you begin to clean and dry your makeup brushes, and we don’t mean annually, their shelf life will increase dramatically. However, if you’re cleaning your brushes to find the bristles are falling out, it’s time to part ways. If your tools have had their day, take a look at this kit containing all the essentials to build a flawless complexion.

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Josie Wilkins

Josie Wilkins

Writer and expert

Josie is an Online Beauty Editor with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism. Her passions involve all things skincare and beauty and in her free time she likes to travel, read and get her beauty sleep.