Your Guide to Makeup Brushes: How to Clean Them

I used to be really bad about cleaning my makeup brushes. I NEVER did it. I didn’t know about the gross things that go on when you don’t clean your brushes often.

Bacteria, dirt, and oil build up on your brushes after each use. These things can cause breakouts and infections on your face. To prevent this from happening, you can either spot clean them or deep clean them.

Spot Cleaning

This technique doesn’t take very long and is really easy to do.

First, you take a makeup brush cleanser (there are several good ones: MAC, Sephora, Clinique) and put a small amount on the brush you are cleaning. (For spot cleaning, don’t get the whole brush wet.) If you do this over a paper towel, it will make the next step easier.

Then, wipe the brush in the appropriate motion (more on this later on) into the extra cleanser that fell onto the paper towel. Do this until there is no color coming off of the brush.

Finally, reshape the brush and set on a clean paper towel to dry.

Deep Cleaning

This first step is optional. I read on this blog post to use a sponge to deep clean your brushes. However, I have always just used my fingers and gotten the same results. The article says to wet the sponge and ring out the excess water.

Next, get the bristles on your brush completely wet. (However, if you have a kabuki brush: “Follow the above steps but only get the tips of the bristles wet and keep the brush horizontal throughout the entire cleaning process. You do not want to allow water to run down into the head of the brush (it will never dry!). When you are done cleaning the brush, squeeze out access water, reshape the brush and lay it on its side to dry so water doesn’t seep down into the head.”)

After that, you squeeze some shampoo or soap onto your sponge (or hands).

You then take your brush and work it into the sudsy sponge. You could also take the soap in your hand and work it into the brush with your fingers. A lot of color will start to run out of the brush’s bristles.

Once you rinse the brush and see that the water running from it is clear, you can reshape the bristles and set the brush out to dry.

Appropriate Motions

Flat or Angled Brushes:
Sweep the brush in back and forth motions on the paper towel or sponge. Make sure to wipe the brush on the flat side of the  brush (length-wise rather than width-wise).

Round Brushes:
Move the brush in circular motions when cleaning on the sponge or paper towel. This action will help retain the bristles’ shape.

When to Clean

Personally, because I don’t have makeup brush cleanser, I just deep clean my brushes. When I have time, I do it everyday. However on busy weeks, I will generally clean them every other day, then do a really good cleaning on Sunday.

Always do your makeup before cleaning your brushes. Deep cleaning can take several hours to dry. Spot cleaning will not take as long, but it’s still safer to have them cleaned from the day before.

Good Cleanser

Sephora, $6

I have a couple reasons for suggesting this cleanser over the other two I mentioned earlier in the post. First off, this one is a lot cheaper. It’s only six dollars, and it will most likely last you a long time. (I’ve heard anywhere from two to four months.) Another reason, and this is a big one for me…it’s a spray bottle. I think  it’s so much easier to spritz the cleaner on as opposed to having to pour it on because you’ll be more accurate and not as much cleanser will be wasted. I only picked this one over the Clinique cleanser because that one costs $13 dollars, which is even more than the MAC one.

I hope this helps!


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