How to Properly Clean Your Makeup Brushes

Do you know what’s lurking in your makeup brushes? The hairs hold onto makeup and can act as a breeding ground for bacteria if they aren’t cleaned regularly and properly. This makeup buildup can consequently be the culprit in causing your skin to break out. Read on to learn how to properly clean your makeup brushes to not only kill bacteria, but keep your brushes looking and feeling like new.

In addition to harboring bacteria, dirty brushes also affect the way your products are applied to your skin. The buildup and oils that collect on the brush hairs will cause your makeup to go on unevenly, making it look patchy and streaky. You want a smooth application, and you can really only achieve that with a clean brush.

There are two different ways to clean them — deep cleaning and spot treating between uses.

Deep Cleaning


You should really deep clean your brushes often, depending on how often you use them. If you use them every day aim to deep clean them every week, although you should wash your Beauty Blender after every use. Deep cleaning involves washing them thoroughly with soap and water to remove all of the dirt and makeup buildup. 

You can use:

  • Makeup brush cleanser: Made for cleaning brushes, and more specifically, the Beauty Blender, the Beauty Blender Liquid Cleanser gets rid of makeup buildup on brushes and maintains the integrity of the Beauty Blender.

  • Antibacterial soap + olive oil: When using antibacterial soap, you will kill the germs and get rid of all the makeup buildup, but it can be too harsh to use on makeup brushes alone. Adding olive oil will not only assist in breaking down the makeup, it also coats and conditions the hairs so they don’t over-dry, keeping them nice and soft. When preparing your soapy mix, be sure that you add in more soap than oil — too much oil will result in oily brush hairs which makeup will cling to and is therefore counterintuitive to your cleaning efforts.

  • Baby shampoo: Baby shampoo is gentle enough for baby hair, so it’s gentle enough for makeup brush hair. It won’t over-dry your brushes and doesn’t leave behind any residue.

    1. Clean.


For antibacterial soap + olive oil — Into a dish, pour a tablespoon of antibacterial soap and a teaspoon of olive oil. If you have a lot of brushes you can double this mixture. For makeup brush cleanser or baby shampoo — pour some soap into a dish. Start by swirling your cleanest and smallest brush into the mixture.

Imagine brushes working like a pen… when you put them on a dry surface the liquid is expelled, so if you’re having trouble removing some makeup just add water and swirl the brush on a dry washcloth or towel to draw it out.

2. Rinse.


Then, under warm water, gently rub the brush over your hand in swirling and swiping motions to loosen dirt and remove the soap. Do this until your brush is fully cleaned with no soap remaining. You can use a Sigma Spa Express Cleaning Mitt or try a silicone hand mitt as a less expensive hack. The bumps and ridges help loosen the dirt, ensuring your brushes are squeaky clean.

3. Dry.


Gently squeeze out the excess water with your hand, then draw out residual water by stroking your brush back and forth along your dry towel — make sure it’s not a towel that sheds lint. Reshape the brush, then lay it on a towel to dry. Be sure the handle is elevated so the water doesn’t seep into it — this could loosen the glue which holds the hairs in place. You can elevate your brushes by rolling up a towel and laying the brush hairs side-down. Be sure the angle isn’t too steep, you don’t want to bend or misshape the hairs by putting too much pressure on them. You can also try a brush holder made specifically for drying brushes. It holds the brush upside down so gravity pulls the water down and the hairs aren’t touching any surface after being washed.

Spot Cleaning


It’s a good idea to spot clean your brushes in between deep cleanings. It keeps your brushes from building up too much product, it helps decrease bacteria growth and it also prevents color transfer between your products. Using a bright blue eye shadow? You don’t want that mixing with your neutral colors! Spot cleaning between products will also prevent cross contamination. Try the Mac brush cleanser or Sonia Kashuk brush cleaner.

How to spot clean brushes:

  1. Spray 4-8 sprays of cleaner onto your brush.
  2. Swipe your brush on a paper towel to remove the makeup. Repeat until the makeup is completely gone.
  3. Dry it on a clean paper towel or towel.
In a pinch? You can also wipe your brush on a makeup removing wipe!

Washing your brushes frequently and consistently is a very important practice. It will increase the life span of your brushes, keep them looking and applying like new, and will help prevent breakouts. Haven’t cleaned your makeup brushes in a while? Try one of these methods!

 Be sure to check out our post on How to Disinfect Your Makeup Using One Household Item!


Photo credits: Kristen Love

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Kristen Love

Kristen Love resides in the Chicago area with her husband & two kiddos-- an energetic toddler who will do anything to make his sweet, baby sister giggle (which doesn't take much). She is the author behind The Love Notes Blog, a YouTube beauty vlogger, an extreme DIY’er, obsessive chick flick watcher, lover of all things pretty & her spirit animal is Li’l Sebastian. Connect with her! Blog: www.thelovenotesblog.com | Instagram: @thelovenotes | Facebook: The Love Notes Blog | Twitter: @lovenotesblog | Snapchat: @thelovenotes | YouTube: www.youtube.com/kristenlove13

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