Two Different Ways To Clean Your Makeup Brushes

Sable Yong
Getty Images / Rdvasilev

Getty Images / Rdvasilev

You may not think too much about it if you don’t share makeup (or maybe you do) but just because you apply makeup with clean hands, doesn’t mean that the tools you use necessarily stay clean. How many germs can accumulate in a powder shadow or blush? You really don’t want to think about it (it’s a lot, trust us). Keeping your makeup tools clean will not only ensure that you get the best and truest color delivery to your face, but also that you won’t be contributing to any breakouts or blemishes from painting germs all over your face. It seems like a big task, but washing your makeup brushes is actually really easy and really not that labor intensive. All you need is a gentle clarifying shampoo, or a baby shampoo. You can also pick up a professional brush-cleaning solution for faster and more frequent brush cleaning. Let’s explore both manual and express methods to learn how to wash your makeup brushes.

MORE: 10 Need-to-know Facts About Makeup Brushes

The Manual Method:

  • Fill a small bowl with about a tablespoon of baby shampoo. Now add a bit of warm water from your faucet to get it frothing—doesn’t have to be a bunch of water, enough that your biggest brush can submerge its head fully.
  • One by one, dip your brush into the water and swirl it along the bottom to loosen up the makeup gunk from the bristles. Repeat with as many brushes as you’re washing.
  • Once the lathering session is done, let them soak in the warm soapy water for no longer than 10 seconds.
  • Rinse each of them individually under cold running water until the water runs clear.
  • Dry them with a towel by gently squeezing the heads to sop up extra water and then re-mold the brush heads back into shape.
  • For drying—and this is important— don’t just stand those brushes upright to dry. You either want to lay them flat, or if you can, brush-head down and suspended (meaning without resting the brushes on anything). By standing them upright to dry, the water in the bristles drips down and settles into the glue that holds the bristles in, loosening it over time. Who wants little brush hairs falling out as you apply makeup? So annoying.

The Express Method:

  • All you need is a professional makeup brush cleaning solution and a paper towel.
  • Just spray the cleaning solution directly onto the bristles until saturated.
  • Then swipe your brush back and forth on a paper towel until you don’t see product/color rubbing off anymore.
  • This is a great method for times when you’re doing your makeup over multiple times in a day or using the same brush for different colors and products. Makeup artists generally always keep one of these cleaners handy since they use their brushes a lot in a day and on different people.

MORE: The Best Makeup Brush Cleaners To Keep in Your Cabinet