Cleaning Tips, Guides & Resources

How to Clean Makeup Brushes So You Don't Have to Buy New Ones Every Month

how to clean makeup brush custom graphic

So many people use makeup brushes day in and day out; whether you’re a makeup artist by profession, or someone that uses makeup everyday, you will understand just how important these various brushes are to complete your makeup routine. From applicator brushes to blending brushes, eyebrow brushes to blush brushes; the list goes on! Of course, each one certainly serves its purpose, and is therefore, crucial to one’s goal of achieving the perfect makeup look. 

That said, your makeup brushes are not going to be very helpful if they aren’t cleaned from time to time. Even worse, the buildup of product on the bristles, combined with bacteria, may cause skin breakouts and such. If this isn’t enough to make you want to learn how to clean makeup brushes, consider the amount of money you’ll save on maintaining the ones you have, as opposed to buying new makeup brushes every now and then!

So, now that you are convinced, let’s get right into the steps to clean your makeup brushes and make them as good as new again.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Clean Makeup Brushes

woman cleaning makeup brushes in a basin

By now, you might have come across tons of makeup cleansers specifically formulated for cleaning brushes, along with tools and other products that aid in getting the job done. While there is no denying that some of these makeup cleaners may work, there is an equally simple, fast, and effective way to do this that uses an old-fashioned method. All you need are four things you can find in your home and you’re good to go!

What You’ll Need

close up illustration of what you'll need to clean makeup brushes

  • Gentle face cleanser/castile soap/mild shampoo
  • Clean plastic cups/bowls
  • Room temperature water
  • Dry towel

Now, follow the steps below to clean up your makeup brushes!

Step One: Choose the Cleansing Product

As mentioned above, you can use any of those products to effectively clean your makeup brushes. Essentially, the cleanser that you use must be mild, preferably one that you use on your face, body, or hair, and contain properties that will help break down oils and cosmetic products. In addition to the products that we have already mentioned, you can also use an actual makeup remover (if you have one). Micellar water is perfect for this, however, you do have to work fast when using the product as it evaporates quickly.

Regardless of what you choose to clean a makeup brush, ensure that it is gentle with a mild scent as you do not want the smell of a strong fragrance lingering on the bristles when you use the brush again. 

Step Two: Soak the Bristles

Because the bristles of your makeup brushes have probably been exposed to various types of cosmetics since you began using them, they will likely be covered or caked with product. From oil-based makeup to matte finishes; these products cling to the bristles and therefore, require some amount of soaking time to loosen up. 

For this, fill up a plastic cup or bowl with enough room temperature water to submerge the bristles, and allow your makeup brushes to soak for 10 - 15 minutes. You can give them a little spin or shake in the water to help dislodge some of the buildup. It is also a good idea to replace the water with fresh water, and allow the brushes to soak for a bit longer if you find that much of the product is still coming out. 

Step Three: Clean the Brushes with the Cleanser

When you get to the part where you have to clean the bristles with your chosen cleansing product, be very gentle and thorough to yield satisfactory results. Begin by washing and drying your hands; then, apply a small amount of the product to your palm, and gently swirl the brush around it to get the cleanser into the bristles. 

Continue stirring the brush in circles onto your palm for a good minute or so; you should see most of the product coming out of the bristles during this step. If needed, rinse your palm and the brush, and repeat the step with more cleanser. Basically, you need to do this until the bristles are completely free of makeup. Once done, place the brush in a cup/bowl of fresh water, and begin cleaning the next brush.

Step Four: Rinse Off Thoroughly & Dry

After you have cleaned all your makeup brushes and placed them in a cup of water, they will still need to be rinsed under running water to ensure that any debris stuck closer to the ferrule is removed, as well as the cleansing product itself. Avoid using a high water pressure as this may damage the bristles; similarly, do not hold the brush upside down against the flow of water. Instead, hold the bristles under running water (either horizontally or in the direction of the flow), and gently massage them between your fingers until they are completely clean. 

To dry your makeup brushes once they have been cleaned and rinsed thoroughly, lay them flat on a clean dry towel or, if possible, hang them vertically with the bristles facing down. Never stand wet brushes upright as moisture will soak the ferrule and wood, and will not dry in a hurry. This, in turn, will cause the bristles to come out and/or cause moisture damage to the wood. Ensure that your makeup brushes are completely dry before you store them away.

Don’t let the buildup of product, or worse, bacteria, lead to throwing away good makeup brushes that have a lot more use in them! Use the guide above to learn how to clean your makeup brushes so that you can continue to achieve the perfect, healthy makeup look!

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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