How To Clean Your Makeup Brushes The Right Way

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How to clean makeup brushes the right wayPutting on makeup in the morning is one of those self-care things that I force myself to do. Some days It makes me feel put together, and ultimately that leads to me being more productive. Over the span of a 20-year cosmetology career, I managed to amass quite a makeup collection. Over the past couple of years I have decluttered it down to a sane amount for one person, since I no longer do makeup in the salon. As I was going through it I was struck by how old some of my makeup brushes are. 

Makeup brushes are one of those items where it is worth it to invest in quality because they will last you a lifetime. I have a Bobbi Brown eyeliner brush that is at LEAST 15 years old, that still looks basically brand new. Remember when Bobbi Brown was the thing? My brushes collection has brushes ranging from $1 on up closer to $100, but almost all of them are at least a few years old because I take good care of them.

If you are looking to invest in some new brushes, I would encourage you to do some research into what kind of brushes you want, and what brands get good reviews. I recently bought my teenager a set of Morphe brushes that were fairly inexpensive, and I can’t believe how high-quality they are. I even steal them from time to time!

How To Clean Your Makeup Brushes

The first step in keeping your brushes clean and nice, is don’t stick your fingers in your cosmetics. They can be a breeding ground for bacteria, so the less you perpetuate that cycle, the cleaner your brushes will be and the healthier your skin will stay. Always wash your hands before handling your makeup.

After each use wipe your brushes on a makeup brush wipe, or even use a regular baby wipe. Gently swipe the brush back and forth across the wipe until it no longer leaves a trace of makeup. Be gentle as you can break bristles off just like you can hair when brushing too abrasively. Store your brushes tips up or flat, but never with the bristles down. Pencil holders or mugs make great receptacles for makeup brushes!

Your brushes should be getting a deep clean at least once a week. Thats right, every week! I am just as guilty as anyone else in letting this task slip my mind, but again, it’s a bacteria issue. Not only do you have a week’s worth of makeup stored in the bristles of your brushes, there is also a week’s worth of bacteria. Wiping your brushes daily helps cut down on the residual makeup and bacteria, but it’s not going to get rid of all of it.

Set a weekly routine for washing them. I do mine on Sunday nights like clockwork. Its nice to start the week of with fresh, clean brushes. May as well have one thing going for me on Monday mornings, right?

What you’ll need:

Clean water

a towel

makeup brush cleaner


a pH balanced soap or shampoo. I use Dr. Bronner’s because it is gentle and non toxic (I order it from Grove Collaborative because it is the cheapest I have found!). You can also use shampoo. 

makeup brushes

I complete this task at my kitchen sink. I start by laying out a clean towel beside the sink, then grab a brush and put the bristles only under some lukewarm running water. The key here is to keep the handle and ferrule (usually metal) portion of the brush as dry as possible.

Then I add a bit of soap to the palm of my hand and gently swirl the bristles. Depending on how dirty the brushes are, sometimes I rinse and repeat a few times before they are clean. For small brushes, like shadow brushes, you can do several at a time. 

Make sure your brushes are throughly rinsed and then lay them on the towel to dry. For bigger, fluffier brushes gently squeeze the water out of them with a corner of the towel.

makeup brushes

Some people like to use these small silicone pads to swirl their brushes against to get them clean. Its just personal preference, as I only use my hands.

Its really quite simple to properly clean your makeup brushes, but taking a little extra care with them will add years to their life!


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Hi! I'm Melissa!

Melissa is a former hairstylist of 20 years who has a passion for living a simply creative life. She loves inspiring others to pick up a planner and get their lives organized, to clean out a closet and minimize their clutter, and to clean up their physical and mental space to lead their most fulfilled life. She is newly single, a mom, soon to be grandma and crazy dog lady who constantly rewatches The Office.



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