How to Properly Clean Your Makeup Brushes

How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes

I have a daily makeup routine. So, I’m sure most of you do too! Maybe it’s primer followed by concealer followed by foundation. Then contouring, shadow, lip stick, and mascara. Finally, maybe you spritz on a little setting spray. And then, boom! You’re ready for the day. 

But, there is one MAJOR process that many of us leave out of our makeup routine – brush cleaning! This is a critical scheduled ritual that will prevent acne breakouts and help your brushes last longer. Your clean brushes will also apply your makeup better. So, friends, it’s time to clean those dirty brushes! 

In light of this, I’m dedicating a whole post to teaching you all about how to properly clean your makeup brushes! Believe it or not, there is some science behind how you clean brushes. It’s not as easy as waving them under a sink. By the end of this post, you’ll have the complete 411 on the best makeup brush cleansing processes.  

How to Properly Clean Your Makeup Brushes

Makeup brushes are GROSS. Not only do they collect dirt, oil, and bacteria from your face, but they hold clumps of old pigment and cream. If that wasn’t enough to make you shudder with disgust, think about where you keep your brushes. Is it the bathroom? Right out in the open? Yuck! Lol.

Seriously, no judgment here. But, brushes must be regularly cleaned to maintain good hygiene and save money in the long run. Below I have written out how to clean your brushes and maintain their clean life once you’re finished! Check it out! 

Clean your brushes daily. (I’m serious!)

Your brushes should be cleaned DAILY. Daily cleaner is not that expensive, and keeping your brushes and sponges clean will ensure makeup application is a breeze. This way, your skin stays much healtheir. Cleaning your makeup brushes daily will prevent any acne-causing bacteria to fester on those bristles. Plus, cleaning off that pigment now will save you some surprise next time you pick up that brush! 

Daily cleaning isn’t as tedious as a weekly deep clean. Instead of soaking your bristles, scrubbing, and waiting FOREVER for them to air dry, you can just use a simple daily brush cleaner. It sprays on and air dries in just minutes! 

Best Makeup Brushes

Deep clean your brushes every week.

It’s good practice to clean your brushes every day, but the American Association of Dermatologists also suggests doing a thorough deep-clean once a week. During this time you’ll scrub and wet the bristles and leave them to air dry safely. It seems easy, but keep reading – I’ve got more details on this for you later!

Don’t bother cleaning cheap sponges. 

There are two types of makeup sponges floating out there (well, two main ones). There are antimicrobial sponges and the cheap alternatives you see everywhere. You can and should clean your antimicrobial sponges regularly, but don’t bother with the cheapies. They’re essentially disposable and should be thrown out after a few uses. If you don’t like throwing out the cheaper alternatives, definitely opt for the antimicrobial, longer-lasting sponges instead. 

Do NOT submerge your brushes. 

Alright, now that you know what you should and should not clean, let’s get down to business. You’ll need a shallow bowl of lukewarm water. In that bowl, add some soap and start swirling the brushes around. But, when you do this, be certain not to drop your brushes all the way underwater. 

Overtime, submerging your brushes will loosen the glue. Little hairs will start popping out until your brush is totally bald. Then, it’s to the trash with your favorite brush and no one wants that! 

Clean Makeup Brushes

Use a shampoo or a specialized gentle cleaner. 

In your bowl of warm water, add a little shampoo or a specialized gentle makeup brush cleanser. These products work great to get out dirt, oil, and old pigment without damaging or drying out the brush bristle. 

Ready for some recommendations? I really love the Sephora collection of makeup cleansers for both daily use and deep cleaning! (They work great AND they smell oh-so amazing.) You also can’t go wrong with Cinema Secrets pro brush cleaning kit that tons of makeup artists use. Furthermore, if you’re in need of some deep disinfecting even after you get the brushes clean, try out this ozone sanitizer – so cool! 

Find a tool or use your palm. 

After you’ve gotten the bristles wet with your cleaner, gently swirl your brushes in the palm of your hand or on a textured brush cleaner. (No need to use elbow grease – keep it gentle!) They make them in both small and large sizes, depending on the amount of brushes you normally clean at once. If you’re like me, you have a TON of brushes and need the big guy. Lol. 

Reform your brush’s shape. 

When you’re done scrubbing, the brush head will be a mess! The motion usually makes brushes flat or uselessly misshaped. So, be sure to reform and resculpt your brush’s head before you dry. 

Make sure you dry correctly – this is important! 

I see so many people miss this part. When you’re done cleaning your brushes, you can’t just stick them back in your holder to let them dry. NO! When this happens, the moisture runs down to the base of the brush and damages the glue that holds it all together. No one wants brush shedding when you’re trying to get ready. 

Instead, to dry your brushes, you need to first carefully squeeze out excess water with a paper towel. Then, you can either lay them flat to dry on the end of the counter, so the bristles are hanging off the edge. OR, you can use my preferred method, which is drying them upside down in a brush rack like this one

This rack allows your brushes to dry upside down and without touching each other, which keeps them cleaner, dries them faster, and maintains the brushes’ integrity. To dry your makeup brushes, just hang them upside down! 🙂

Makeup Brush Advice

Know when it’s time to say buh-bye to those brushes. 

Okay friends, I know it’s hard to say goodbye to your go-to brushes. But, when your brush can’t keep its shape, sheds all the time, or smells (yuck!) – it’s time to toss it. Don’t feel bad, that brush has served its time! Plus, this means you can grab some new ones, which is always fun. You’ll find a few of my favorites in this post

Find a good way to store your brushes. 

Once you get your brushes clean, try to keep them that way! You should keep brushes in a low humidity area. That’s right – beside your shower is NOT a great place for your brushes. They should also be stored in a lidded container that keeps out dirt and dust. Additionally, try to find a container system that allows your brushes to be separated. No touching means no cross-contaimination of pigment or general grossness. 🙂  

Delegate brushes to do specific things (and rotate any extras!)

Finally, I really recommend you delegating your brushes to do different things. Keep your eye makeup brushes as eye makeup brushes. And, contouring brushes as contouring brushes. Furthermore, try to avoid mixing dark and light colors. No one likes swiping a light pink across their eye only to find the deep blue from last weekend’s outing left behind. 

But – I understand having a brush for EVERY task might be a little unrealistic. So, if you are sharing brushes with different color types and purposes, use this brush cleaner between tasks! It’ll get that old color out and remove any gunk that might have rubbed off on the brush from your face. And if you do have extra brushes, rotate the ones you use to extend the life of all your applicators! 

Cleaning your brushes daily and weekly is critical for extending the life of your brushes and keeping your face free of bacteria! 

That’s right, friends, no skipping out on brush cleaning! Dirty brushes can cause breakouts, poor makeup application, and the premature demise of your favorite brushes. Grab some of these products and follow these step-by-step instructions for your new brush cleaning routine! 

How will you implement brush cleaning as a daily and weekly habit? What’s your go-to makeup brush that needs a little love? Let me know your answers below – I am always down to learn new tips and try new products! If you have any more makeup and hygiene related questions, check out the beauty section of my blog or feel free to drop me a line in the comments! I can’t wait to hear from all of you! 🙂 

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