How To Clean Makeup Brushes Correctly

Date Published: August 1, 2021
Author: Kylee Smith

Makeup brushes are used daily on your face; therefore, they should be cleaned often. When makeup brushes are not cleaned, bacteria begin to buildup on these brushes and can cause breakouts according to dermatologists. Regular cleaning of these beauty supplies is key to healthy, clear skin. How you clean your makeup brushes is just as important as how often you clean your makeup brushes. Follow our step-by-step instructions to clean your makeup brushes correctly.

Makeup Brush Cleaning Supplies

Dirty brushes make for spotty applications, an increased risk of acne, and a shorter lifespan of your makeup brushes. Luckily, you can clean your makeup brushes in three easy steps and a few supplies.

Automatic Brush Cleaning Machine

That’s right, there is a machine that does all the work for you. These automatic brush cleaning machines are a fast, easy way to keep your brushes looking great. They can even dry the brushes for you.

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Gentle Soap

Some people recommend using regular dish soap for this cleaning task; however, a bar of gentle soap is a better choice, especially if your makeup brush is made of natural hairs. In general, using a gentle soap helps your makeup brush bristles to last longer.

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Makeup Brush Cleanser

A commercial makeup brush cleanser can be used in place of gentle soap for this cleaning task. This cleanser is specifically designed to cleanse hard-to-remove makeup from the bristles of your makeup brushes.

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Makeup Brush Cleaning Mat

A makeup brush cleaning mat is specially designed to help pull makeup from deep within the makeup brush. Available in mats or glove forms, they will help you efficiently clean your makeup brushes.

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  • ◕‿◕Easy to Use: Just pour some cleaning solution on the cleaning pad, gently move your brush on the cleaning pad, then rinse the brush off.

Hand Towel

A hand towel is used to dry the makeup brush bristles after they have been cleaned.

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Cleaning Makeup Brushes

If you choose to purchase an automatic brush cleaning machine, all you have to do is operate the device according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The machine does the work for you. Some people, especially pros, use these devices, but most consumers like to keep it simple. The following step-by-step guide for cleaning makeup brushes keeps everything simple. When you follow our directions, your makeup brushes will be clean in minutes.

Step One: Wet Brush Bristles and Apply Cleanser to Pad

Use warm water to wet the brush bristles. Apply the cleanser to the makeup brush cleaning mat. If you chose to use the gentle soap, apply it to the cleaning mat.  

  • Pro Tip: If you decide to use gentle soap instead of a commercial cleanser, you can also add olive oil to the soap for extra cleaning power. This formula will also moisturize brush bristles. Use two parts soap and one part olive oil.
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Step Two: Clean Brushes Using Makeup Brush Cleaning Mat

Rub the makeup brush against the cleaning mat, gently massaging the brush bristles. Once the cleaning mat has worked its magic, rinse the bristles thoroughly.

  • Pro Tip: Be sure not to wet the base (ferrule) of the makeup brush head. The ferrule is attached to the handle with glue. Excess moisture can cause the glue to disintegrate.

Step Three: Allow the Makeup Brushes to Air Dry

The hand towel is not for drying the makeup brushes completely. Use the hand towel to gently squeeze the excess moisture out of the brush’s bristles.  Once most of the moisture has been removed, you want to reshape the makeup brush bristles. Use your fingers to gently shape the bristles back to their original form.

Then, lay the brush on the counter with the head of the brush hanging slightly over the edge of the counter. This will help ensure your makeup brush retains its shape and dries properly. Pro Tip: Never lay your makeup brushes on a towel to dry. This can cause the bristles to grow mold and mildew.

Final Thoughts

While this cleaning task is easy, it’s important to pay attention to the subtle details described in our instructions. You may want to consider purchasing an automatic brush cleaning machine. Whether you clean your makeup brushes by hand or use an automatic cleaner, you can complete this cleaning task in a matter of minutes.

FAQ: Cleaning Makeup Brushes

Makeup brushes must be cleaned often to prevent bacteria from building up on the bristles. Facial skin is delicate, which means you must pay close attention when cleaning your brushes. Thankfully, we have provided you with the information on how to clean your makeup brushes correctly. Now it is time to answer a few more questions you may have.

How often should you clean makeup brushes?

Makeup brushes should be cleaned once per week according to professional makeup artists. They must be cleaned more often than other makeup applicators.

How long do makeup brushes typically last?

Makeup brush lifespans vary greatly depending on the type of brush and the quality of your brush. For example, high-end brushes typically last longer than budget brushes.  

What signs tell you it is time to throw a makeup brush away?

A makeup brush should be tossed if the bristles start to shed, become discolored, or develop a bad odor.

Do natural brushes last longer than synthetic brushes?

Yes, makeup brushes made with natural hairs, if cared for properly, can last up to 6 years.

How long does it take for the makeup brushes to dry after they have been cleaned?

It typically takes about 3 hours for the brushes to dry completely. Ensure your makeup brushes are totally dry before using to help reduce the risk of bacterial growth.

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