For most of us we use our makeup brushes every day sometimes multiple times of day. That means makeup on top of makeup on top of makeup. Often times too, those same brushes are tossed in our makeup bag for mid-day or pre-happy hour touch ups. I mean a girls gotta look fresh, right?! Well whether you carry them around with you daily, keep them nicely in your makeup drawer or counter, those bristles end up being caked with oils from your skin, makeup, and my favorite: dead skin (note the sarcasm). All of that becomes a perfect place for bacteria to thrive which in turn you end up putting back on our face. Hashtag Gross.
Just like washing our faces are part of our beauty routine so should washing your makeup brushes. I'm completely guilty of not washing my brushes regularly like not even monthly. Most professionals say you should clean them after each use or at a minimum weekly. I don't know about you but I don't have time for that. Since I'm the only one using my makeup brushes I don't feel super grossed about when I don't wash them in a month but if I actually think about it, like now while writing this post, I'm feeling like I might need to hit a germaphobe meeting.
While it's not my favorite thing to do, I love the feeling of applying my makeup with freshly clean brushes. It's super easy and you don't really need any fancy tools as long as you have some soap, your hand, and a towel will do. However, I have found a couple of products that I love to use that have made these deep cleaning brush sessions thorough and quick.
Brush Cleaning Mat: Before I found this cleaning mat, I used the palm of the hand. By the end of cleaning all my brushes, my hands were prunes and my manicure ruined. This mat has been a game changer for me. The mat suctions to the bottom of your bathroom sink & has various textured sections for each of your different type of brushes. It's cut down my cleaning time in-half. I'm using the smaller mat (the express). Sigma makes a larger mat and also a glove you can use. Alternatively, you can just the palm of your hand as well.
Cleanser: Now I've tried a few different products to cleanse my brushes. First, my face wash. It worked well but such a waste of product & costly. Second, handsoap. This also worked well but I felt I like it was too harsh on the bristles. Third and what I'm currently using is a Sephora brand specific brush shampoo. I definitely like this the best so far. It really gets my brushes clean and leaves the bristles feeling softer than regular soap. I know that a lot of people love using Johnson's Baby Shampoo as inexpensive alternative. What I do like about the Sephora brand is that they also make a daily spray version. You spray your bristles and wipe them clean on a paper towel after use. It's a good option for daily maintenance after you've done a deep cleaning.
Towel/Paper Towels: After you've cleaned your brushes you'll want to wipe the excess water from the bristles. I like to use a paper towels so I can see if their is any makeup residue still coming off and to also reshape the brush heads. I then use a washcloth to lay my clean brushes down on.
Steps to Cleaning Your Makeup Brushes
- Start by running the bristles of your brush under lukewarm water to dampen the bristles.
- Apply your cleanser of choice directly to the bristles.
- If using a brush mat or glove, run & swirl the brush on the ridges on the mat or glove to work up a lather & start breaking down the build up residue. If you're using your palm, swirl the bristles around in your palm.
- Rinse the brush under lukewarm water. Gently squeeze out the excess water using your fingers being careful not to pull on the bristles. If the excess water is not clear, repeat steps two through four until all make residue is removed.
- Using a paper towel, gently squeeze the excess water from the bristles (again be careful not to pull on the bristles) and reshaped the brush head.
- Lay your brushes down on a towel to air dry overnight.
Tips & Tricks
- I don't recommend soaking your brushes in a lukewarm water & cleanser bath. It can cause your brush head shape to get distorted & loosen the glue that holds the bristles in place.
- Don't dry your brushes standing up. This will cause any excess water in the bristles to loosen the glue of the bristles as the water will travel down towards the handle.
- Keep in mind that brushes take time to dry, so don't give them a deep cleaning the day you need to use them.
- Don't forget to clean your other makeup beauty tools such as your eyelash curler. Have you looked at how dirty that thing is lately?
- If your brush bristles are synthetic, a hand soap will work just fine. For natural hair bristles, I suggest using a makeup brush cleanser.
- If you have any brushes that have a lot of build up or have caked in makeup, a small dab of olive oil will help to break down the residue. Alternatively, I will use a little dab of my face wash that breaks down makeup really well.
- Another option for daily brush maintenance is to use cleansing wipes or baby wipes. Sephora is even making brush cleaning wipes too. Those would be perfect for traveling.
Sigma Express Brush Mat, Sephora Brush Shampoo, Anthropologie Towel (in store only), Anthropologie Candle Holder (old; used as brush holder)
Brushes on towel: Sephora Contour Brush, Laura Mercier Cheek Color Brush, Chanel Cream Eyeshadow Brush (old), M.A.C. 217 Blending Brush, Bobbi Brown Concealer Brush
Brushes in holder: bareMinerals bareSkin Perfecting Face Brush, bareMinerals Flawless Application Face Brush, Sephora #61 Powder Shadow Brush