How To: Clean Your Makeup Brushes

Written by on April 11, 2013 in Beauty, Makeup - 18 Comments
How To: Clean Makeup Brushes

Spring-cleaning doesn’t stop with your closet, it’s a great excuse to lather up those grimy makeup brushes too! Often overlooked, dirty makeup brushes can contribute to blocked pores and a dull complexion. It’s best practice to give your makeup brushes a deep cleaning once a month. A fresh makeup brush ensures the bristles are disinfected and your products are applied with the greatest color integrity. Get those brushes sparkling clean and keep them looking good as new for years. Learn how with our simple process!

Written and photographed by Erin Gerlach of The Sparkle.

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  • 1. Don’t be afraid to get your brushes wet. Start by running the bristles under a tap, ensuring they face downwards at all times during the cleaning process.

  • 2. Once the brush is damp, lather with clarifying shampoo, working the soap deep into the bristles with gentle circular motions. Reapply the shampoo until the water runs clean when squeezed out of the brush. We like Neutrogena’s Anti-Residue Shampoo ($5.59).

  • 3. Rinse the brush and squeeze out any excess water, shaping the brush into its natural form.

  • 4. Lay the brushes flat to dry overnight. Laying them flat ensures water doesn’t leak into the handle of the brush, which can loosen the glue over time causing the brush to deteriorate and eventually break.

  • Ellie

    I never thought of clarifying shampoo! A mixture of olive oil and dish soap works WONDERS too!

  • mimurmaid

    I use 70% alcohol mixture to rinse the brushes once a month. It’s great because most of the brushes are ready to use in an hour or so. When using 90% alcohol mixture – the brushes are ready to use in minutes (for emergencies only-it’s alcohol after all). Keep clean and good luck :)

    • erin

      that’s a great quick solution! i do this in between clients if i’m working on multiple people a day, but you’ll want to give them a good lather otherwise.

      • mimurmaid

        here here

    • April

      Whats the alcohol mixture for the 90%?

      • mimurmaid

        Well, it depends. If you have 100% alcohol, you ought to put 10% water (in 90 ml alcohol – you add 10 ml water), and so on :) Good luck!

  • Courtney

    You have to be careful though, especially with cheaper brushes, not to lay them flat while drying. I hang mine upside down so the water can get out of the ferrel. If you’re not careful and let the water sit inside the brush, it can make the glue come loose and your brush fall apart. I doubt this happens with MAC brushes, but I have had it happen with cheaper E.L.F. and Sonia Kashuk brushes.

  • Tall girl

    Mac has a great brush soap that removes all the dirt in seconds. Much better than the shampoo I used to use…

  • Lindsay Van Cleave

    I need to remember to do this!

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  • miss b bobochic

    What a good idea to use a clarifying shampoo. I’ll try this next time.

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  • Martha Lopez

    This is a great tip! Never thought about this…like AT ALL.

    However another thing is to get really good brushes.

  • Katt

    Would it be okay to use coconut oil instead of the olive oil?

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  • Cindy

    I saw on TV a great way to dry your makeup brushes, invest in toe separator like the ones they use for pedi’s , hang the wet brushes upside down over a jar or whatever your comfortable using, this way they don’t touch each other and hang upside down to make sure the water drains out.

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