March 13, 2023 8 min read

Cleaning your makeup brushes may seem like a tedious task, but it is a crucial step in your skincare and makeup routine.

Makeup brushes are an essential tool for achieving a flawless makeup application, but most people overlook the importance of regularly cleaning brushes. 

According to a survey we ran, 22% of users only clean their brushes once a month and 57% admitted to not cleaning their brushes at all.




If you fall into any of these categories, for the love of your skin, please start cleaning your brushes today.

Not only can dirty makeup brushes cause skin irritation and breakouts, but they can also affect the performance and longevity of your brushes. 


In this article, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about cleaning and maintaining your makeup brushes.




What Materials Do I Need to Clean My Makeup Brushes?


To clean your makeup brushes, you will need the following materials:


  • Gentle Soap or Shampoo: You can use gentle shampoo or soap to clean your makeup brushes. Baby shampoo, mild dish soap, or even your facial cleanser is an excellent option


  • Makeup Brush Cleaner:If you want to take your brush cleaning game to another level, you can get special brush cleaners. There are many types out there from different brands and they're formulated specifically to remove grime, oil, dirt, and makeup build-up from your brushes while leaving the bristles soft and in perfect shape.


  • Micellar water: Another option or hack that has become popular is also, using micellar water as a brush cleaner. We know that micellar water is great for removing face makeup and generally cleansing the skin, now imagine using it on your brush. We can't guarantee squeaky clean brushes with this method but if you're ever in a hurry, just soak up a cotton pad with micellar water and work into your brush, wait a few minutes and you can apply your makeup. This is also perfect if you're a professional makeup artist working on several clients in a short period and can't afford to wait long hours for your washed brushes to dry. You can also try using a gentle disinfectant to clean and disinfect brushes between uses for different clients.


  • Bowl or Sink: You will need a bowl or sink to mix the cleaning solution and rinse your brushes.


  • Clean Towel or Cloth: You will need a towel or cloth to dry your brushes after cleaning.


  • Brush Egg or Silicone Mat: This is optional but a brush egg or silicone mat can be used to help agitate and deep clean the bristles of your brushes. If you can't afford to get one, swirling the brush in the palm of your hands works just fine.


  • Water: You will need clean warm water to rinse the cleaning solution off your brushes. Preferably warm running water from the sink.


  • Brush Guards: Brush guards are used to reshaping your brushes after washing and help them dry in the correct shape. These are also optional. You can just lay the brushes down on a clean towel.


How to Clean Makeup Brushes At Home Step by Step Guide


Once you have gathered all the necessary materials, you can start cleaning your make up brushes by following these steps:


  • Wet the bristles of your brush with lukewarm water. Avoid soaking your brushes in water, as this can dissolve the glue holding the brush handle and the bristles together.
  • Add a small amount of gentle soap or shampoo to your palms, brush egg or silicone mat, and swirl your brush around in the mixture.
  • Rinse your brush with clean water and repeat the swirling and rinsing process until the water runs clear.
  • Gently squeeze out any excess water and reshape your brush.
  • Lay your brushes flat on a clean paper towel or cloth to dry with the brush tips hanging slightly off the edge and not upright, so that water does not flow down to the metal part. If it does, it can dissolve the glue holding your bristles together and ruin your brush.


Pro tip:Tired of cleaning your brushes the manual way, there's the option of a mini washing machine for makeup brushes.

These products make brush cleaning a lot faster and easier. They're usually automatic and work with batteries or light.

All you need to do is pour some water into the compartment, put in your shampoo or liquid, place your brush facing downwards, and hit the 'start' button. Wait for a few seconds while it swirls, turn it off, rinse, and dry. How cool is that!



automatic makeup brush cleaner



How Often Should You Clean My Makeup Brushes?


It is recommended that you clean your makeup brushes at least once a week to prevent the buildup of bacteria, dirt, and oil.

However, the frequency of cleaning may vary depending on how often you use your brushes, the type of products you use, and the conditions in which you store them.


If you use your brushes every day, or if you use them to apply liquid or cream products, you may need to clean them more frequently. This is because bacteria and fungi thrive in wet conditions.

On the other hand, if you use your brushes infrequently or only use them for dry products like powder makeup, you may be able to clean them less often.


For example, your skin prep brush, foundation brush, face brushes and any other brush you use to blend out liquid to cream product needs to be cleaned at least once a week, depending on how often you apply makeup.

Your beauty sponges should be cleaned after each use and other brushes used to apply powder, eyeshadow, or other powdery products are less likely to store up bacteria, so you can wash those once in two weeks.

For professional makeup artists, you'll need to clean your brushes every time you use them on a client, to prevent passing on germs and skin infections. 


Pro-tip for makeup artists: Buy your makeup sponges in bulk, it's usually less expensive and you don't have to worry about washing after each use, as you can easily discard them afterward.

Or if you'd prefer to use high-grade reusable beauty blenders, I advise you to have at least two of them in your box and don't forget to clean them between clients and change them every 3-4 four months.


Ultimately, it's important to pay attention to the condition of your brushes and clean them whenever they start to look or feel dirty. In addition, make sure to store your brushes in a clean, dry place to help prevent bacteria growth between cleanings.



What’s The Best Way To Store My Makeup Brushes?


Storing your makeup brushes properly can help maintain their shape, prevent damage, and ensure they stay clean. Here are some best ways to store your makeup brushes:


A: Brush Holder: Using a brush holder is a great way to keep your brushes organized and easily accessible. You can purchase a brush holder or make one using a cup or vase filled with beads, sand, or rice.


B: Drawer Dividers: Drawer dividers are a great way to store your brushes neatly and protect them from damage. You can use acrylic dividers or even old CD cases to organize your brushes in a drawer.


C: Roll-Up Brush Case: A roll-up brush case is perfect for those who travel frequently or need to store their brushes in a compact space. You can easily roll it up and store it in a drawer or suitcase.


D: Flat Storage: If you have limited space, storing your brushes flat can help save space and keep them organized. You can use a flat makeup bag or lay them in a drawer with a towel or tissue paper underneath to keep them clean.


E: Brush Guards: Brush guards are great for protecting the shape of your brushes and keeping the bristles from getting bent or damaged. You can purchase brush guards or make them using straws or cut-up drinking cups.


Overall, the best way to store your makeup brushes is in a clean, dry, and organized space to protect them from damage and maintain their shape.



Is It Safe To Use A Makeup Brush That Hasn’t Been Cleaned In A While?


If you have not used your makeup brush for an extended period, it is not recommended to use it.

This is because an unclean brush can harbor bacteria, dirt, and other harmful substances that can cause skin irritation, breakouts, and infections.


When makeup brushes are used repeatedly without being cleaned, they accumulate oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria from your skin, which can lead to the growth of harmful microorganisms.

These microorganisms can cause skin problems such as acne, folliculitis, and other infections.


If you're one of those who wait till they see an actual build-up of makeup and dirt on your brush before cleaning them, you might have a rethink.

Experts have revealed what they saw when they viewed used makeup brushes under the microscope and you'll be shocked.

Microorganisms such as mites, fungi, and bacteria such as staphylococcus, streptococcus, and e.coli.

Although these things are normally found on the skin and are generally harmless unless they increase in number and upset your skin's natural barrier leading to acne breakouts, rashes, and other forms of skin infections.

You could also get cold sores and conjunctivitis from sharing dirty or used makeup brushes.

Gross right?


Furthermore, using a dirty makeup brush can also affect the application of your makeup. If your brush is caked with products, it can make your makeup look uneven and patchy.


We recommend you clean your makeup brushes at least once a week to maintain their cleanliness and avoid any potential health risks.

You should also replace your makeup brushes every few years and 3-4 months for your beauty sponges to ensure they are in good condition and not harboring harmful bacteria.



How Can You Extend The Life Of Your Makeup Brushes?



Makeup brushes can be expensive and are an important item in a makeup artist kit. They are also an investment in your beauty routine. To extend the life of your makeup brushes and get the most out of your investment, here are some tips:


1: Clean them regularly: Regular cleaning of your brushes helps to remove dirt, bacteria, and excess makeup from the bristles, which can cause damage over time. You should clean your brushes at least once a week using a gentle brush cleanser or mild soap.


2: Dry them properly: After washing your brushes, make sure to dry them properly by laying them flat or standing them upright with the bristles facing down to prevent water from seeping into the ferrule (the metal part) of the brush.


3: Use them gently: Avoid pressing down too hard on your brushes or using them to apply makeup aggressively. This can cause the bristles to bend or even break, shortening the lifespan of your brushes.


4: Store them properly: Storing your brushes properly can help to protect them from damage and keep them in good condition. Store your brushes in a clean, dry place, preferably in a brush holder or roll-up case.


5: Invest in quality brushes: High-quality makeup brushes may be more expensive, but they are often made with better materials and construction, which can make them more durable and last longer. Investing in good quality brushes can save you money in the long run, as you will not have to replace them as often.


By following these tips, you can extend the life of your makeup brushes and keep them in good condition for years to come.




Final Thoughts:


Deep cleaning your makeup brushes is an essential step in your beauty routine that should not be overlooked. Dirty brushes not only affect the performance of your makeup but can also harbor bacteria and cause breakouts.


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