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How to Clean Make Up Brushes

Make up brushes are used on the skin on your face, so keeping them clean is essential for clear skin. Remove build up easily with the tips below!


Reading Time: 5 minutes


If you leave them to clog up, makeup brushes can become unresponsive and distribute makeup unevenly. But, more importantly, brushes trap oils and moisture on which bacteria can thrive – which is certainly not the sort of the thing you want near your face. Luckily, cleaning them is much simpler than you might think.

Hair conditioner can restore the flexibility of premium natural brushes, so much like your hair, don’t forget to condition your brushes after you’ve washed them!

How to Wash Makeup Brushes: The Basics

People disagree on the absolute best way to clean makeup brushes, but most methods are essentially the same; they just disagree on what’s the exact best soap to use. Here’s an easy guide!

  1. Rinse the brushes in lukewarm water. Take care not to oversaturate the bristles near the ferrule (where the bristles are connected to the handle). If the bristles are wetter here, they can swell and even fall out: a process that is hard to halt once it gets started.

  2. Apply a small amount baby shampoo and lather into a foam. (The technique is similar to lathering with a shaving brush, if you’ve seen it, only a little gentler.) Ordinary hand soap will work too if you don’t have baby shampoo.

  3. Rinse under lukewarm water again, until the water runs clear. Again, take care not to wet the bristles near the ferrule.

  4. Squeeze gently with a tissue and leave sideways in a ventilated area to dry. This may take a couple of hours, but be patient. Trying to speed up the drying process with a hairdryer, say, can distort the bristles and damage the brush.

How to Clean Makeup Brushes: Natural Bristles

Stiff brushes are not much fun to use; it’s hard to do a light dusting of anything with bristles like pine needles. This is especially true for premium natural brushes, which tend to command higher prices than their synthetic cousins. Luckily, you already know an excellent tip to make natural bristles nice and supple and most likely have the perfect substance close to hand, you just don’t realise it: conditioner. It can make restore the condition of your hair, and make-up brushes aren’t so very different, most just being made from (albeit non-human) hair. You can use any you have lying around.

how to clean makeup brushes

How to Clean Makeup Brushes: Synthetic Bristles

On the other hand, while natural brushes may need a little extra care and attention, synthetic ones can take a bit more punishment. This is useful if powders are really caked on and cleaning your makeup brushes needs to turn a little more serious. If that’s the case, follow the instructions above, but feel free to use a little washing-up liquid instead. If it can shift the heavy grease of foodstuffs, it should have no problem tackling your makeup.

How to Wash Make Up Brushes: An Alternative

If you want, you can try to forgo water washing all together. Alcohol-based cleaners can shift almost all of the same substances, and have the distinct advantage of drying much, much faster. Cleaning makeup brushes with these therefore reduces the risk of damaging the bristles or any wooden handles. It frees them up for use very quickly too – skirting any hairdryer temptation – and is antibacterial to boot.

Now you’re armed with the knowledge of how to clean your makeup brushes, there’s no excuse for leaving it any longer – and it’s bound to make you feel much better about doing your makeup!

Originally published