I don’t know about you, but I use my makeup brushes every. damn. day. (well, on weekdays anyway… sometimes I give my skin a break on the weekends). To keep them in tip-top shape and keep bacteria at bay (I know — gross, right?) I’ve worked their care and cleaning into my routine. I do my best to wash my makeup brushes every week, or at least every 2 weeks (sometimes we’re traveling or something and I can’t do it EVERY week) to help keep my face from breaking out from bacteria growth on my makeup brushes (plus, old makeup + skin oils? nasty 😷).
The actual process of cleaning the brushes is easy — you just need the right tools, some planning (read: patience 🤣), and to stick to a routine. Buying a makeup-brush specific soap and a scrubbing pad will make your life so much easier; there’s actually no excuse not to have these items because they’re both super affordable!
First: Completely wet your brush, and I mean saturate it. While under the stream of water from your faucet, gently press the bristles between your fingers to make sure that the water gets access to all parts of the brush where dirt/bacteria/old makeup may be hiding.
Second: Gently squeeze out any excess water from your brush and apply soap. I find that one pump usually does the trick, but you can use as much as you like! You can use any gentle dish or hand soap, but I prefer to use a soap made specifically for makeup brushes. You can see in the photos that my bottle’s label and design are different than the bottle that I linked, but it’s the same product. Mine is just an older label — a bottle lasts forever because a little soap goes a LONG way.
Third: Press the brush bristles gently on your scrubbing pad (I love this one because it’s a mitt!) and swirl in a circular motion, alternating directions and using all of the varying textures of the scrubbing pad.
Fourth: Rinse and gently squeeze out excess water; repeat steps 2-4 until the water coming from your brush runs clear.
Fifth: Once the excess water has been fully removed from your brushes (I have a bit of an obsession with Bobbi Brown brushes, if you can’t tell… 😂), use your fingertips to gently shape the brush head back to its usual form and lay on its side (DON’T stand them up in your makeup brush holder as the water will remain in the base of the bristles and take longer to fully dry… and potentially mildew! 🤢).
*Side note: I had been searching HIGH AND LOW for months for a makeup brush holder that would fit the bizarre layout of our primary bathroom counter, and I finally found this one that is absolutely perfect — brushed brass AND the perfect weirdo angle to fit the corner I needed it for (full disclosure: it’s a toothbrush holder 🤣).
I like to set my brushes on the edge of my sink to dry, but you could also lay them out on a clean paper towel or washcloth. The worst part about this process is the time spent waiting for the brushes to air-dry… I basically have to “schedule” their cleaning because I don’t want to be without my brushes for too long! I personally try to wash them after putting my Saturday night makeup on and then let them dry overnight; if the brushes need more drying time beyond that I just allow my skin to go sans-makeup on Sunday while I run errands or clean the house. Additionally, I don’t recommend using your hair dryer to accelerate the drying process, but if you absolutely must, be sure that you are using your dryer’s “Cool” setting as not to damage the brush bristles.
I’m sure that you noticed that I used the word “gentle” a lot in these directions and that’s because while brushes are generally sturdy you don’t want to be too rough with them and compromise their construction (and will lose a lot of bristles!).
You will also want to fully rinse the makeup brush scrubbing pad and leave it out to dry. I happen to have a hook on my shower caddy that fits the loop perfectly, but you can easily leave this out to dry with your brushes on the countertop.
This is a fairly recent addition to my beauty routine, if I’m honest. I definitely NEVER washed my makeup brushes as a 20-something (and totally should have! 😩)… but now that I’m 32(!!!), I’m definitely more conscious of taking care of my beauty products, tools, and my skin. It’s the only one that I’ve got so I might as well take care of it!
Leave me a comment and let me know how often you wash your makeup brushes! Do you have a favorite scrubbing pad or soap? I’d love to hear about it — let me know!