Beauty Rx: How to Clean Makeup Brushes 101

Hello there!

I have been trying to do some light research on makeup brush cleaners, especially ones that would be somewhat moisturizing so my brushes don’t get nasty and old. I want them to last a long time and not lose their softness. I haven’t seen any reviews on your blog, maybe I missed something, but if you have tried any or have any suggestions, it would be much appreciated!

Thank you for any and all of your help!


Clean makeup brushes are one of those things that are too easy to forget about. Creating your look with clean brushes can make a big difference, so it’s important to remember this step!

Whether you’re using natural bristle or synthetic bristles, cheap or expensive brushes, with the right care, your brushes should last you for years. A good cleaning will remove bacteria, oil, and old makeup that cause your look to come out muddy and undefined. Most experts suggest cleaning your makeup brushes once a week, though having something to use daily to remove excess makeup is also pretty handy.

Products To Use:

There are a ton of specific makeup brush shampoos out there on the market, and you can also find directions online for many at-home shampoo concoctions to make on your own.

The main things to remember when choosing a brush cleaner are:
• You want to remove all oil, makeup and bacteria, but you want to do it gently. Many brushes are made out of hair, so they’ll last longer with a gentle cleanser than a harsh cleanser that dries them out.
• While it is appealing to use oil or conditioner on your makeup brushes, remember that you’ll need to get every last bit off of the bristles. Any residue left behind will make makeup application uneven, as the residue can “grab” powders. Leaving behind residue is also a bit like asking for more bacteria growth.

Johnson’s Baby No More Tears Shampoo, Original Formula $5.49
Sephora Purifying Brush Shampoo $7
e.l.f. Studio Brush Shampoo $3

How to Wash:

There really isn’t an absolutely correct way to wash your brushes. The important thing is to keep the ferrule (the metal band holding the bristles in place) from soaking in liquid. If water gets into the ferrule, it can start breaking down the glue holding your brush together. So, never submerge the brush completely, and certainly don’t follow directions that tell you to submerge and soak your brushes. It is fine for it to get a bit wet, but don’t soak your brushes in a cup for 20 minutes before shampooing. My favorite cleanser for my brushes is good old fashioned baby shampoo.

1. I hold my brush under running water, brush end down, just to get the bristles wet.

2. I put a bit of shampoo in my palm, dab the brush into the shampoo and work with through the bristles. I usually do a bit of compressing the bristles to rub them together a bit, and I’ll also swirl the bristles in my palm to make sure I’ve gotten every bristle.

3. To rinse my brush, I once again run it under the water, bristles pointing down, more squeezing and swirling. Do this until the water runs clear.

4. I blot my brushes with a hand towel and lay them on the side of the sink to dry.

There are also easy-to-use spray cleansers; you simply spray them on your makeup brush, move the bristles around a bit, and then rinse the product off. These cleansers do work well, but I’m just a baby shampoo girl.¬†Finally, solid brush cleaners are a newer addition to the makeup brush cleaner world. I haven’t tried them, but I do know quite a few people who use them and love them. Simply wet your brush, swirl it around on the cleaner, then rinse.

Daily Cleansers 101:

The main reason I like to keep my makeup brushes clean is for better application. Applying with a lot of old makeup on your brush makes the colors look muddy and application becomes uneven…it just isn’t pretty. There are some great makeup brush cleaning sprays out there meant to be used everyday for a quick refresh post-application.

The daily sprays are mostly alcohol, so they’ll evaporate quickly (the Make Up For Ever above is an exception, it has no alcohol). Because alcohol can be drying, I try to use these sprays only on days that I’ve used a very dark color or something that needs to be removed quickly from the brush, such as a cream product.

e.l.f. Studio Daily Brush Cleaner $3
Make Up For Ever Instant Brush Cleanser $22


Article Posted 4 years Ago

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