How to: Clean & Care for Makeup Brushes

Hey lovelies!

So it’s time for an updated how to clean your brushes post! A brush cleaning post was one of the first ones I did on my blog, over a year ago, and my technique has changed quite a bit so I thought I’d share it with you!

It is important to clean your makeup brushes as they can harbor bacteria, which grows at an alarming rate. Dirty makeup brushes can cause potential skin problems/irritations including acne break-outs, and can also shorten the life of your makeup products by contaminating them.

Washing your brushes kills bacteria & ensures your brushes are clean, soft and kind to your skin. I recommend deep cleaning your brushes once a week (or once every 2 weeks depending on how frequently you wear makeup), and spot cleaning after each use for eye brushes (as if you use different shades on the same brush on different days you won’t be getting a true colour) and whenever your face brushes look like they need it.

So how do you clean them?

There are 2 methods.

The first method is spot cleaning, which is typically done straight after you use the brush if you are going to use it on someone else, or if you want to use a different colour on the same brush. This method is frequently used by makeup artists after working on one client, and before working on the next to ensure their brushes are sanitized and clean for each client.

Many different brands offer brush cleaners for spot cleaning including MAC, e.l.f & more. I personally use the Cinema Secrets brush cleaner which is amazing at cleaning out all the built up makeup & it also leaves your brushes smelling like vanilla (which I love). This brush cleaner is available form selected beauty supply stores and also online at the Cinema Secrets website, on Camera Ready Cosmetics and others.

To spot clean you simply use either a clean hand towel or paper towel, wet your brush with the cleaning solution and work it into the bristles. You will need to use different sections of the towel/paper towel as parts become dirty.

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Continue wetting & working the solution into the brush until the brush is clean, then lay to one side to dry. Spot cleaners are generally made up of a high percent of alcohol, so they are dry and ready to use in about 30 seconds, although big brushes take a little longer to dry. Also as spot cleaners are made with a high percentage of alcohol, it is important to still deep clean your brushes so they don’t dry out from all the alcohol.

Regardless of whether or not you spot clean your brushes throughout the week, it is still important to deep clean your brushes at least once a week to ensure they are clean and sanitary. Below are the steps required to deep clean your brushes.

Step 1: Get your dirty brushes ready to wash

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Step 2: I generally wash big brushes individually using a 20c amount of shampoo (you may need to use more after you rinse it off), whilst washing smaller eye brushes 3 at a time using a smaller amount of shampoo. I use the Tresemme 2 in 1 shampoo & conditioner because it cleans and conditions the brushes at the same time, leaving them soft and clean, however you can also use baby shampoo or a mixture of olive oil & detergent, whatever takes your fancy.

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Step 3: Thoroughly wet the bristles of your brush with lukewarm water, ensuring not to pour water directly into the metal part of the brush (the ferrule), as this is where the brush hairs are attached to the handle with glue, and wetting this causes the glue to loosen over time (YOU DO NOT WANT THIS!).

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Step 4: Squirt the shampoo into your palm and work it into the bristles, creating a foamy lather. I personally use a brush cleaning glove with raised grooves as it really gets into the bristles & lifts out all the makeup & is a lot quicker than washing with just your hands. Obviously you don’t need to use a brush cleaning glove to clean your brushes (although you can find silicone oven mits with grooves at $2 stores), however as a makeup artist it is a lifesaver for me as I can wash more than 20 brushes in 20 minutes :).

Rinse and repeat the process until the foam is white and the water runs clear when rinsing.

Step 5: Gently squeeze excess water out of your brush using a clean towel, reshape your brush and set aside to dry.

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When drying makeup brushes it is important to either lay them flat, or pointing down so that water doesn’t seep into the brush ferrule (as mentioned earlier). The best place to dry your brushes is somewhere they can get air flow to dry quicker. I dry mine in a Benjabelle brush tree as it allows the brushes to get a lot of airflow & the shape of the brush hairs is maintained. However if you don’t have a brush tree I also recommend laying your brushes on the end of a bench/table with the bristles over the edge.

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You’re done! Now your brushes are clean & ready to get dirty all over again 😉 Brushes typically need approximately 6hrs to dry, but I leave mine overnight to ensure they are completely dry.

If you have any questions, comments or requests leave them below!

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18 thoughts on “How to: Clean & Care for Makeup Brushes

  1. Sammi Penni says:

    This is really great advice for makeup newbies! I don’t own a Benjabelle tree (though I’ve been eyeing one for awhile) so I just use some Brush Guards and stick them upside-down in a cup, though they do take a little longer to dry that way. It keeps them in great shape, though!

    • kflowermaquillage says:

      Thanks 🙂 yeah I own some brush guards, but for some reason most of them are absolutely tiny, so I don’t know if they sent me the wrong size or something

  2. Tashia_in_the_natural says:

    I feel crazy cuz usually when mine get dirty I just go buy more and throw the dirty one away smh at money I’ve wasted! Oh well at least I stocked up when Walmart had $25 brush sets for like $2.50 each after Christmas! Only have 2 of those left now! Thanks doll glad I read this

  3. Maria B says:

    I have had my right foot injured and I just left the house today, and I had my face brush with me to reapply powder and it fell on the ground! 😦 in the grass. I cleaned it when I got back home, in the second manner you mentioned but now I am still paranoid about using it ever again.

  4. Catherine Dream says:

    Yay, was looking forward to this post, glad to see it in my reader. : )

    I just got my first Real Techniques order yesterday (before I was using the Bare Minerals brushes for my foundation and Clinique brushes) – I order a few for me and few for much mom. They’re kind of awesome so far ; ))) So this post is right on time : P

    But this is pretty much my method, only I tend to use washing up liquid – I prefer my brushes not to be as well taken care of and their moisture sealed, but REALLY clean of all the makeup residue and oils, you know? And as I said, have the same tree, which seemed like a silly purchase when I got it (I had it sent from the States and felt like I was fussing over my brushes way too much : P), but is actually a great thing! And I don’t like my bristles touching anything, shelves and stuff, so this tree is cool.

    You have so many brushes btw, brushporn! : D

    Lovely post!

    • kflowermaquillage says:

      I’m glad you like this post! 🙂 real techniques make some awesome brushes, the expert face brush & under eye setting brush are both awesome. Oh I have way more brushes than this… 🙊 yeah that’s why brush cleaning gloves are great, because they really get into the bristles & lift all the makeup out.

  5. Ashly Eyler says:

    I wouldn’t have thought to use shampoo! Thanks for the time and money saving tip! I need to clean my brushes so bad, it never occurred to me to do it before. What would you suggest, about once a week to do a thorough cleaning? Or more often? Thanks for the post!

    • kflowermaquillage says:

      Yeah a lot if people use baby shampoo, but I prefer the moisturising shampoo formula. I suggest once a week, but if your brushes get really dirty before then you can wash them more than that. I spot clean my brushes during the week & then deep clean with shampoo once a week which is what I prefer to do 🙂

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