Wednesday, August 13, 2014

How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes

You wouldn't wash your face with a washcloth you've used everyday for a month (or longer), so why are you using makeup brushes that haven't been washed in that long? I clean my brushes every week, and I suggest you do the same as well. There are dozens of different instruction online on how to clean your brushes, some are really good and some are so bad you might as well throw those brushes away and just buy a whole new set. While you CAN you things like dish soap or baby shampoo to wash your brushes, they weren't really designed for it and can actually damage your brushes over time or just not leave them very clean. I use the ELF daily brush cleaner and the ELF brush shampoo, both are very cheap ($3 each) and are designed specifically to clean your brushes.

First things first, you need to understand the anatomy of a brush to understand why you don't do certain things when you wash your brush. Most brushes consist of a handle, a metal band, and the actual brush bristles. The bristles are attached with a large dollop of glue on the handle and the metal band helps to keep everything in place and from getting pulled apart when you use the brush. You'll see why this is important to know in a bit.
Everything I need to clean my brushes minus the towel.

I use the daily brush cleaner every day on my eyeshadow, blush, and mineral powder brushes. This prevents yesterdays colors from contaminating today's colors and lets me always have a clean slate. The spray both conditions my bristles so they stay soft and disinfects them to prevent bacterial buildup to form on my brushes or makeup. I don't use this on my foundation, lip, or eyebrow brushes though, the spray doesn't seem to work very well for them, but since I wash all my brushes on a weekly basis anyways I'm not overly concerned.

During my weekly wash I clean my brushes in two specific ways, just depending on the type of brush. Method one is to squirt a dollop of the brush shampoo into the palm of my hand.

Remember, back and forth gently. Don't scrub or your damage the bristles

I then dip my brush into the dollop and rub the brush back and forth against my fingers like I was painting them with the soap. This method works best for smaller brushes like my eyeshadow brushes and non-fluffy ones like my foundation brush. This does not work very well with blush brushes or big powder brushes I noticed.
Just enough water to clean my brushes but not enough to get the glued ends wet

Method two is to put about an inch of warm water into a small mason jar or bowl and then then add a squirt of the brush shampoo into that. Mix briefly and it's set to go.

Swirly swirly nice and clean

I dunk/swirl my powder brushes in the water until they are fully cleaned. NEVER let your brushes soak in water, this will damage the glue that hold the bristles in place and lead to shedding or a complete breakdown of the brush (especially if the handle is wooden).

Eww...bronzer water

After both methods I rinse the brushes under water till the run clean then dry them on a towel to get the bulk of the water out.
Rinse with the brush pointed down, otherwise you'll ruin it.

Powder brushes can hold a ton of water, so make sure you get out as much as you can.

I then gently reform the bristles into the correct shape and then I set them on the edge counter so the bristles are hanging over the sink. Try to keep them from touching one another when you set them down.

This does two things. One, it prevents water from pooling up on my counter and making a mess and two, it gives the brushes complete airflow to dry, helping to prevent glue breakdown. Never place wet brushes back in a brush holder that points the bristles up, this will cause excess water to pool at the base and break down the glue.

I also once a month take an old toothbrush to my makeup pencil sharpener to get all the bits of eyeliner out of the grooves. I just use regular bar soap for this since there isn't anything to break down, just make sure you dry it well or it may rust.

I do this once a week before I go to bed so my brushes will be nice and dry for me when I get up in the morning. All of this takes maybe 5 to ten minutes total and my brushes are nice and clean and ready for another week of use. I highly recommend you do this once a week, it will keep your brushes looking nicer longer and may cut down on the amount of acne you're getting as an added perk. Clean brushes make for a happy face.


  1. I feel like I should invest in a cleaner especially cuz its not that expensive. but i've been using just regular shampoo. Which at first i was skeptical because i thought it would lead to breakouts but it didnt :P

    1. There are lots of great and cheap options out there. I'm liking the ELF one, which is $3 at Target.