How-To: Effectively Clean Your Makeup Brushes Using Mild Detergent and/or Conditioning Brush Cleansers

I’ve always said that a good quality makeup brush is a great investment. Makeup brushes and other applicators (i.e. sponges) are essential tools that allow you to get the most out of your makeup application. Unfortunately they also breed bacteria and easily spread germs onto your face and onto your makeup. Every time you use a brush to apply your makeup, oil, dirt, product and even bacteria can get trapped inside the bristles. These oils and traces of product are essentially a breeding ground for bacteria and if you don’t keep your brushes clean, the bacteria transfers onto the skin the next time you apply your makeup. Gross right? I’ll say….so, it is very important that you care for your brushes properly. Here’s how I do it.

How To Effectively Clean Your Makeup Brushes
Photo Credit: Beauty & Makeup Matters
I deep clean my brushes every two weeks using lukewarm water and a mild detergent like Johnson’s Baby Shampoo. I also spot clean them as needed using a brush cleanser. Cleaning your brushes doesn’t have to be a chore. Here is everything you need to know about deep and/or spot cleaning your makeup brushes.

HOW-TO Effectively Deep Clean Your Brushes:

1) One at a time, run your brush bristles under lukewarm water making sure that you do not get the ferrule wet. (Soaking the ferrule in water eventually loosens the glue that binds the ferrule to the handle)

2) Fill a small bowl with lukewarm water and add a few squirts of shampoo. 

3) Swirl your brush tip in the bowl to work up a small lather. 

4) Rinse thoroughly under running water once again and squeeze out any excess moisture.  

5) Repeat steps 3 & 4 until your water runs clear. 

6) Use a clean cloth to wipe your brushes clean or lay them flat to dry. 

TIP: Deep cleaning your brushes requires 1-2 hours of drying time depending on the size of the brush so make sure to wash them after you’ve applied your makeup for the day. 

TIP:  Do not lay your brushes to dry on a towel as this can cause mildew. Letting them dry with the bristles hanging off the edge of a counter also allows them to retain their natural shape.
HOW-TO Effectively Spot Clean Your Brushes: 
* this method requires very little drying time & is recommended for quick cleaning as required 

1) For daily spot cleaning, spritz your brushes with a brush cleaner

2) Swirl your brush over a clean paper towel 
Not taking good care of your brushes can lead to clogged pores and unwanted breakouts. Even though I am not prone to getting breakouts, I am still paranoid about using dirty brushes and/or product on my skin. I even spray my powder cosmetics with a sanitizing spray specifically made for cosmetics. 

For years, I’ve used MAC’s Brush Cleanser to spot clean my brushes. I also tried a similar version made by Crown Brushes and was also satisfied with that one. Since both cleansers come in a regular squirt bottle, I transfer some product out to a 4 or 8oz plastic spray bottle (you can find these at the Dollar store) since spraying the cleanser directly onto the brush works best for me. While at IMATS this year, I also picked up a few Scented Conditioning Brush Cleansers by Beauty so Clean. These cleansers are formulated with only natural ingredients and gently clean brushes while also conditioning them in the process. And they smell pretty awesome too! 
MAC Brush Cleanser ($18 CDN/$15 USD), Crown Brushes Brush Cleanser ($10 USD),
Johnson’s Baby Shampoo & 4oz Spray Bottle
Beauty So Clean Scented Conditioning Brush Cleanser
in Candy Cane & Gingerbread – $10 for 2
More Tips:

1) Try to clean your foundation and concealer brushes more often

2) Avoid using plain soap and water to clean your brushes as this will dry out your bristles. (this is especially true for natural-hair brushes)  

3) Toss out old brushes that have lost their shape or have begun to fray/shed. 


Are your brushes in need of a good cleaning? 

How do you normally clean your brushes?