Cleaning your makeup brushes is one of the most important self-care tips I have. It keeps germs away from your sensitive skin (especially your eyes), and can solve some issues with dry and itchy eyes and breakouts almost overnight. That little hidden secret that might be so obvious that you never thought about it. However, most makeup brushes don’t come with instructions on how to properly clean them, and you may have questions about doing it correctly. Quality makeup brushes are expensive, and of course you don’t want to waste that investment.
Let’s talk about: why you should clean your brushes, the difference between synthetic and natural brushes, and finally HOW to clean them!
Here’s Why You Should Clean Your Makeup Brushes
Because makeup brushes don’t look too dirty, it’s easy to put off cleaning them until next week, or next month, or never. But if you forget to clean your makeup brushes, you could be putting your skin in danger.
Your makeup brushes can harbor dust, dirt, oil, allergens, and germs. If you don’t wash them regularly, you’ll transfer those nasty particles to your skin. That can lead to a host of problems, including breakouts and irritation.
A clean brush makes for an even application of makeup. It makes sense: If the bristles of your brush are bogged down with old makeup (and all of that other yucky stuff mentioned earlier), it won’t be able to hold on to the new makeup very well. The brush won’t glide smoothly against your skin, which will create an uneven look.
A clean makeup brush will guard against muddling your new makeup with yesterday’s colors. Keep your colors distinct.
Finally, a regularly scheduled cleaning will extend the life of your makeup brushes. Protect your investment with a little soap and water.
What’s the Difference Between Natural vs. Synthetic Makeup Brushes?
A long time ago, I didn’t realize there were different types of bristles. However, it’s important to know because the type of bristle will determine how you clean the brush.
Natural hair brushes are made from animal hairs. Some brands claim that their animal hair brushes are cruelty-free. Unfortunately, not every brand harvests animal hair in methods that are harmless and pain-free.
Synthetic makeup brushes, like the ones we sell at Red Apple Lipstick, are vegan and guaranteed cruelty-free (no animals were touched in the making of these brushes). They have no cuticles which makes for a smoother and more precise application. Yay for no streaks!
Other benefits of synthetic brushes include:
- Not porous so they don’t soak up too much product (you’ll save more of your makeup)
- Easier to clean
- Perfect for those with animal allergies
- The bristles don’t absorb water and then contract when they dry (which means they won’t fall out of the brush)
Here’s How Often You Should Clean Your Makeup Brushes
Most of us only clean them every 6 months or so…but experts say we should be cleaning them at least once a month. Brushes that we use with creamy/liquid products (like foundation or concealer) should be cleaned weekly.
Obviously tailor this to how OFTEN you use your makeup brushes. If you’re using all your brushes daily for both creams and powders, cleaning your brushes should be a weekly or at least bi-weekly task.
If you only use your brushes on the weekend, cleaning them once a month would be good.
And, of course, if you have any sort of irritation, breakout, stye or the like, cleaning them immediately and not using them until the inflammation has subsided is key!
Methods for Cleaning Your Makeup Brushes
There are two ways to clean your makeup brushes:
Method #1: Do a Gentle Hand Wash
To clean your makeup brushes, you can keep it really simple. All you need are three things: Soap, water, and your hands.
- Fill a glass or bowl with warm water.
- Add a drop of gentle soap* to the water. (*We’ll discuss soap options in the next section.)
- Add a dime size dollop of soap to the palm of your hand.
- Take one makeup brush and swirl it into the water bowl. Be careful not to submerge the bristles completely in the water as this can loosen the glue.
- Take wet brush and swirl it into the soap in the palm of your hand.
- Use your fingers to massage the soap into the bristles.
- Dip the brush back into the water bowl.
- Repeat with the remaining brushes.
- Quickly rinse the brushes under running water.
- Use a paper towel to remove the excess water.
- Hang brushes over the edge of a vanity or bathroom counter to avoid flattening the bristles as your brushes dry.
- Fluff after dry.
Alternatively, you can use a cleaning brush or a cleaning mat. Both options come with multiple cleaning patterns that you can use to help gently scrub your tools.
Opt for the Right Cleansing Soap
What type of soap should you choose? You have options.
Option #1: Dish soap – Use a non-toxic dish soap that has anti-bacterial properties. A tiny drop will do.
Option #2: Baby shampoo – It’s formulated for sensitive skin so it’s perfect for makeup brushes. It also conditions your bristles without leaving extra products that can eventually make them stiff, however baby shampoo won’t kill any bacteria that may be present on the bristles.
Option #3: Makeup cleansing balm, bar soap – Check the ingredients list before buying to make sure that they won’t do harm to your skin.
Method #2: Let a Machine Clean for You
Makeup brush cleaners are expensive, but if you absolutely hate cleaning your own brushes, this may be a option to consider. These machines work in the background so you don’t have to deal with the monotony.
Use a Hair Blow Dryer
In a rush and don’t have the time to wait for your makeup brushes to dry? Use a blow dryer. If it’s good enough for your hair, it’s good enough for your makeup brush bristles every now and then. Keep in mind that blow dryers shouldn’t be used all the time because they have a tendency to dry out your bristles and make them weaker over time. However, in a pinch when you need your brushes available right away, this is a great option.
Be sure to use the blow dryer on the lowest setting to avoid damaging the bristles.
Use Hair Conditioner
At first blush, you may think, hair conditioner on a makeup brush? Yes, it’s a thing. But it’s only a thing for animal hair makeup brushes. If your makeup brushes are synthetic, they don’t have cuticles and don’t need the extra step of conditioning. However, makeup brushes made from animal hair can get hard and will benefit from the softening ingredients in your hair conditioner.
On the hunt for new makeup brushes?
If you’re looking for new makeup brushes, be sure to check out our selection of vegan, cruelty-free makeup brushes here.