How to clean makeup brushes

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For some people, makeup brushes are a daily staple.

If this is the case for you, your brushes can do a lot of work. They can help you create the perfect crease, highlight your cheekbones, and even cover blemishes and dark circles.

But without a regular cleansing routine, these handy tools can wreak havoc on your skin.

“Over time, your makeup brushes will not only pick up old makeup, but they’ll also pick up dust, dirt, and many other substances from your desk, makeup bag, or even your floor,” says Ashleigh Scriven, makeup artist and dermatologist. expert.

This means that when you use your makeup brushes, you transfer all that dirt and grime into your pores, which can cause breakouts and irritate sensitive skin.

Think of it like this: if you don’t clean your brushes, you’re not just adding a touch of highlight or pink blush to your face, but a whole host of bacteria as well.

If you see your favorite beauty tools in a whole new light, read on.

Whether you choose to clean your brushes every 2 weeks or commit to a more regular routine, the following steps should ensure they are perfectly clean:

  1. Gather all your brushes.
  2. Fill your sink with lukewarm water.
  3. Massage the bristles of the brush with baby shampoo or a mild facial cleanser.
  4. Use a brush cleaning pad to dislodge debris.
  5. Rinse your brushes thoroughly.
  6. Massage the brushes into real hair with the conditioner for one minute. Rinse again.
  7. Let your brushes air dry.

Gather your brushes

“When collecting your brushes, be sure to include any that haven’t been used,” says Scriven. “They can still collect dirt from your makeup bag and other surfaces.”

Fill your sink with lukewarm water

You can use a sink, basin or even a brush cleaning machine with warm but not too hot water.

If you opt for a machine, try the STYLPRO Electric Makeup Brush Cleaner Gift Set.

Wash with baby shampoo or mild cleanser

It can be tempting to reach for hand soap or even dish soap, but Patel says you should avoid them.

“Using soap can dry out your skin and damage the natural hair bristles,” he explains.

Instead, he recommends opting for a mild facial cleanser.

“I researched what cleans brushes most effectively, and baby shampoo works wonders for me,” says Scriven.

To use, squeeze a pea-sized amount and gently massage shampoo/cleanser into hair with fingertips until lathered.

Use a brush cleaning pad

Brush cleaning pads usually have raised ridges that help loosen trapped dirt.

“Rubbing your brushes over the textured areas will help remove the dirt inside the brushes,” says Scriven.

Scriven suggests DIY.

“You can make one out of a sheet of hard plastic and a glue gun. Use the glue gun to create different shapes and patterns to rub your brushes against,” she says.

You can also buy brush cleaning pads online.


Once you have scrubbed your brushes well, run them under lukewarm water.

“Be sure to rinse the hairs thoroughly before wiping them off on a clean, dry towel,” advises Amish Patel, aesthetic practitioner and skin care expert at Intrigue Cosmetic Clinic.

If the water is not clear at first, rinse the brushes and repeat the previous steps until all dirt, grime and makeup residue are gone.

Air dry your brushes

Scriven advises letting your brushes air dry overnight and cautions against using a hair dryer.

“If I use a hair dryer, I find it affects the shape of the hairs,” she explains.

Patel says you can “gently reshape the brush head into the shape it had before washing and let it dry naturally with the makeup brush bristles aired out on the edge of a counter.”

What products should you use?

Scriven suggests reading the ingredients and avoiding harsh additives such as:

  • perfumes
  • alcohol
  • conservatives

This is especially true for people with sensitivities or skin conditions, such as psoriasis or eczema.

It can be tempting to reach for hand soap or even dish soap, but Patel says you should avoid them.

Instead, try a gentle cleanser like The ordinary squalane cleanser.

Scriven’s top pick is baby shampoo, like Johnson’s Baby Shampoo.

“It’s safe for sensitive skin, and no harsh chemicals will affect your brushes,” she explains.

As for washing real hair brushes, Scriven says you can follow the same steps you did with your synthetic brushes, but you should add conditioner afterward.

“Condition your real hair brushes with a conditioner of your choice for 1 minute. This ensures that the bristles are soft and delicate,” she adds.

Whatever products you use, Scriven recommends doing a little patch test beforehand to check for irritation.

Washing your makeup brushes can seem like a chore. Yet, according to Patel, it’s non-negotiable when it comes to good skin health.

“Brushes and foundation sponges are a breeding ground for bacteria, so washing them regularly is key,” he explains. “In fact, anything that comes into contact with your face should be cleaned regularly.”


  • masks
  • hands
  • towels
  • scarves or headbands
  • makeup brushes and sponges

There is no hard and fast rule on how often you should clean your brushes.

Patel’s advice is to wash your makeup brushes and applicators at least twice a month. More often is best if you have sensitive skin or are prone to occasional outbreaks.

If you regularly wear makeup like Scriven, you might like to bathe your brushes on a specific day each week.

“I always try to clean my makeup brushes at the end of each week (every Sunday). This is to make sure I start each week with fresh brushes,” she says.

Like all your cosmetic products, brushes and sponges need to be replaced regularly.

Scriven recommends changing them every 3 months.

Of course, this may not be realistic for your budget.

“If that’s not financially possible, my advice would be to have a solid cleaning routine and try to change your brushes regularly so you don’t always use the same ones every day,” she says.

You can use makeup brushes regularly to help you look your best, but unwashed tools can do more harm than good.

To keep your pores free of grime and dirt that collects on your brushes, clean them regularly.

Using baby shampoo or a mild cleanser, lukewarm water, and a ridged cleaning pad at least twice a month should do the trick.

Victoria Stokes is a writer from the UK. When she’s not writing about her favorite subjects, her personal development and her well-being, she usually has her nose in a good book. Victoria lists coffee, cocktails and the color pink among some of her favorite things. Find her on Instagram.

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