The Right Way To Clean Your Makeup Brushes

Janell M. Hickman


We all know the key to great makeup is proper application. We love the ease of applying certain products with our fingers, but nothing compares to the precision of using makeup brushes. However, washing your brushes should be a regular part of your beauty routine. However, maintaining your brushes properly is just as important as selecting the right ones to use. We caught up with a few experts to give us the low down on taking care of your favorite tools. These are a few key tips you won’t want to brush off.

Wash Your Brushes Weekly: “Your brushes should be deep cleaned once a week,” explains Sephora PRO Karoline Karakeosian. “You can determine that it’s time to wash your brushes when your makeup isn’t blending well or [if your] makeup application becomes blotchy. Stiffness of the brush is also a great sign that it’s time for a wash!”

Create The Right Brush Collection: “Great brushes can make a world of difference in the application and wear of your makeup,” shares CEO and Co-Founder, IT Cosmetics, Jamie Kern Lima. “If you’re starting a brush collection, consider investing in synthetic brushes. All IT Cosmetics brushes are 100% synthetic, cruelty free and anti-microbial to help keep your brushes beautiful so they can treat your skin while applying your makeup. As for the type of brushes, having a great foundation brush, powder brush, concealer brush and shadow brush are the true core tools you need to make the most of your makeup.”

Know When To Toss Your Brush: “There are two main indicators of a conventional brush that signal they should be retired,” explains Artis Founder and former M.A.C. Cosmetics senior executive, Matthew Waitesmith. “One [obvious] indicator is the fiber bundle or handle are visibly worn, damaged and frayed and just doesn’t look nice any more. And the other indicator is the hair bundle is just not performing like it did when it was new and feels wrong. Product doesn’t go on evenly or efficiently. When either of those indicators happen, you should just go ahead and buy a replacement.”

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Avoid Simply Using Soap + Water: “Soap and water are not enough to remove residue from your brushes,” says Karakeosian. “Soap can also change the texture of the bristles, making them feel rough and dry. I love using the Sephora Collection Dry Clean: Solid Brush Cleaner – it’s easy to use, smells fantastic, and can be used daily without harming your brushes.”

Give Your Brushes Time to Dry: “After cleansing, allow brushes to dry in a place where the hairs are not being shifted from their natural shape,” says Maria Jones, Pro Artist of tarte cosmetics. “Drying them with the handles on a hard surface but the bristles hanging off the edge is always a good trick for this. A general rule is to maintain the condition you bought them in at all times.  This is the same rule for every type of brush, including eye and lip.”

Don’t Soak Your Brushes: “Soaking your brushes may loosen the adhesive and cause shedding, shortening the lifespan of your brushes and affecting makeup application,” says Lima. “Each makeup brush is an investment in your makeup and your skin. Cleaning your brushes regularly helps keep them at their best.”

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Opt for Synthetic Fibers: “I personally think man-made fibers offer more benefits than animal hair brushes. If you find the right man-made fiber brush, it can pick up and distribute makeup product better than almost any animal hair brush,” explains Waitesmith. “You do have to do your homework on the brand and actual fiber they use, and whether the fiber works better with some makeup formulas [powder, liquid, or cream], or works across formula types. In general, synthetic brushes don’t suffer the same weaknesses as animal hair. For example, an estimated 10% of the population are allergic to animals and their hair.”

Treat Your Sponges With Care: “Certain sponges are designed to last and have cleansers sold to maintain the integrity of the sponge,” shares Jones who works with “It” girl Gigi Hadid. “If the sponge has a rounded dome that attracts water, this material can last around 6 months with daily use.” Jones also recommends must-have brushes like the tarte powder player bamboo pressed powder brush, undercover lover bamboo concealer brush and the blushing beauty bamboo domed blush brush.”