Raise your hand if you’ve ever “forgotten” to clean your makeup brushes until they were caked with an embarrassing amount of product. 🙋🏽♀️
I’ll admit it, I far too often neglect my makeup brushes and then regret doing so when I finally break down and douse them in some soap.
But, letting makeup build up on your brushes is a major no-no. Doing so creates a hotspot for bacteria and germs, which can cause a whole lot of problems like acne and infections. If you’re anything like me, you might need some help (and motivation) to clean your brushes the right way and when you’re supposed to.
Keep reading to find the best methods to clean your makeup brushes with a little help from the beauty pros.
How Often Should You Clean Makeup Brushes?
Before we dive into *how* to clean your makeup brushes, let’s talk about *when* you should clean your brushes.
“Ideally, makeup brushes should be washed once a week if you’re using them regularly,” says beauty blogger Jennifer Harper of The Harper Girls. “Including makeup sponges like the Beauty Blender, and even your eyelash curler!”
Learn how to clean makeup sponges with our guide here!
“Not washing your makeup brushes regularly can let bacteria grow and build up, leading to a whole host of problems,” she says, “like acne, clogged pores or even eye problems like styes!”
How to Clean Makeup Brushes
Now that we know how important cleaning your makeup brushes is, let’s get into the how-to’s (it’s easier than you’d think)!
Step 1: Choose Your Cleanser
There are several options to choose from when deciding what to use on your makeup brushes, including ready-made cleansers like this one from Ecotools. However, some of the gentlest, most effective cleansers come from items you probably already have around your house, like dish soap.
“There are a lot of different methods to clean your makeup brushes,” says Harper, “including solid soap-like cleansing bars, brush spray, special brush shampoos, or even baby shampoo!”
For makeup artist Theresa Novicky, regular shampoo is her go-to choice. “I use Garnier Whole Blends on my fluffier brushes,” she says. “For my dense/stiff brushes, I use Dawn dish soap [because] it’s tough on grease and gets all the foundation, concealer and black eyeliner out of the brush.”
When prepping to clean your brushes, it can also help to invest in a silicone cleaning mat (like this one on Amazon), but if you don’t have one around the house already, the palm of your hand will work just fine!
Step 2: Clean Your Brushes
Next up, we have skincare expert Jessica Rose breakdown the process of actually cleaning your brushes.
“Set your brushes near your bathroom sink, and bring the running water to a lukewarm temperature,” she explains. “Place a drop of shampoo [or cleanser of choice] in the palm of your hand. If using a cleaning glove or mat, place the product onto this instead.”
Next, gently rub the brush in your palm or mat in a circular motion, loosening the makeup and oils that have built up. Aftering lathering them up, rinse them under the running water to wash away all the product. Keep repeating this step until the water runs clear.
Step 3: Dry Your Brushes
Finally, gently squeeze out the excess water with your fingertips or a towel and let your brushes dry upside down or hanging off the counter. It is super important NOT to let your brushes dry by laying them on a towel; doing so may not allow them to dry properly, leading to mold and mildew.
According to beauty expert Lindsay France of Stay Sweet, you “MUST dry makeup brushes upside down! A lot of makeup brushes have wooden handles, which means they can begin to rot if allowed to absorb water,” she explains.
“When drying the brushes with bristle side down, this allows the water to flow out instead of back into the handle. This is a great rule of thumb even if the handles are plastic!”
If you can’t hang your brushes upside down, you can always let the brush head hang off the edge of the countertop to dry. If you want to invest in a drying tower, however, Novicky suggests the Sigma Beauty Dry ‘N Shape Tower for easy and convenient drying.
To Sum It Up
The bottom line is, you need to wash your makeup brushes regularly to keep your skin clear and fresh, and to allow your brushes to apply makeup products smoothly and efficiently. “I clean mine on Sunday night for a fresh start Monday morning!” Jessica Rose suggests.
Although it’s really easy to put it off, cleaning your brushes at least once a week is the best way to keep them from building up makeup, oil, and other gunk.
Plus, cleaning your makeup brushes is probably easier than you thought. All you need is a little dish soap and 5 minutes. We hope this article helped motivate you to deep clean your brushes ASAP if you’ve been slacking on your wash game recently!
IMPORTANT NOTE: Cleaning your makeup sponges is just as important – view our guide to cleaning your beauty sponges.
Sarah Nelson is a contemporary writer of women’s interests and trends, and a former writer of teenage-angst poetry.