Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Five Easy Steps to Clean and Revive your Makeup Brushes

If you love makeup, or at least want to apply it so you look polished, then hopefully you own some good makeup brushes. And hopefully you’re washing those makeup brushes.

Why is it so important? Your brushes hold a lot of dead skin, old makeup, bacteria, hair, and the gross-factor goes on and on. And if you’re breaking out, dirty brushes play a major factor in that cause.

So let’s be honest. When was the last time you cleaned your makeup brushes? I mean really cleaned them. Like water and soap clean, not wipe on a tissue and call it a day.
Besides your brushes being germ-hoarders, they also don’t work that well over time, with all that junk weighing them down. Just think of your own hair. If you keep putting product in it day after day, but never wash it, your hair would not only be disgusting, but it wouldn’t hold a style, feel soft or look good. Same thing with your brushes. Most brushes are made of natural hair (various animals get haircuts and “donate” their locks to makeup brush companies) and that’s why it’s ideal to wash them. Even if you have a brush with synthetic hair they still need to be cleaned.
It’s easier than you think and not a lot of time. I like to wash them at the end of the night, right after I washed my face. I’m already at the sink and cleaning my face, so I might as well clean my brushes, right? Besides, if I wash them right after I’m done with my makeup in the morning, I may want to do a touch-up later that day and they could still be drying. That’s why I do it at night so they have a long time to dry. Then I wake up to practically-new brushes for my morning makeup application! It’s a real thrill.

There are two ways to clean your brushes, and I recommend both. The first option is a quick, mini cleanse. Basically you take a brush cleaner that you commonly spray on a tissue, and swirl the brush on the tissue to wipe off your makeup. This is great if you’ve just used a dark eyeshadow color and need to use the same brush for a lighter color and don’t want the two colors interfering. This is also what professional makeup artist’s use in between clients.  It’s a great way to get the color off and sanitize them. There’s typically a lot of alcohol in these so that it dissipates quickly leaving you with the ability to continuously use your brushes. I use the Laura Mercier Brush Cleanser for this quick-fix cleanse.
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The second option is a deeper cleanse. This is when you literally shampoo your makeup brushes. It’s ideal to do this every few weeks, or once a month. The best way to do this is:

1. Gather all your makeup brushes by the sink and get the water temperature to a medium-warm heat.
2. Working with one brush at a time, saturate the brush with water (don’t soak- NEVER soak them!! This can cause your bristles to eventually fall out) and put a small amount of shampoo in the palm of your hand and swirl the brush in it.
3. Work up a nice lather and then rinse until the water runs clear.
4. Squeeze out the water and shake the brush back into its normal shape.
5. Lay a towel, or paper towel, at the edge of a countertop and lay the brushes so the bristles hang off the edge- that way they maintain their shape. Repeat with remaining brushes. Let dry completely before using.

For the deeper wash I use a shampoo that you’d use on your hair. It’s not volumizing or color treated- it’s just a regular ol’ shampoo for Normal Hair. I don’t typically use this type of shampoo so I buy a travel-size bottle to use exclusively for my brushes. As a side note, a lot of people recommend baby shampoo and my experience with it hasn’t been great. Baby shampoo is so mild that I don’t think it really cleans the brushes as well.

Once your brushes are clean they are reborn. There’s a softness and fullness that you didn’t ever realize you were missing because you got so used to the grimy brushes of old. Bring your brushes back to life with a quick bath and you’ll be so happy you did!


  1. The moment I begin to breakout, is when I realize it's time to wash my makeup brushes, and hair brushes. Yep, about a year ago I got a pimple on my scalp and it was then for the first time I had washed my hair brush. After reading your article, I think, I'll be washing all of my brushes more often. Thanks Trish.

    1. So TRUE Amy! It's great that you're so aware of it already.

  2. Yes, clean brushes. Something I'm so glad that I learned and need to do more often.

    1. We could all be better at cleaning our brushes more often- especially me!