How to clean makeup brushes? The complete guide

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Brushes are the ideal accessory for applying makeup, as they allow you to blend powders, foundations and other products in the best possible way.

Thanks to them it is possible to obtain a discreet or more marked finish and also to work with great precision on the face, since there is a suitable brush for each type of cosmetic.

This is the main reason why most people own a set of makeup brushes, even an actual collection in some cases.

However, it doesn’t matter how many you have: the key is to keep them in good condition.

In this guide on how to clean makeup brushes you will find all the basic instructions to follow, so happy reading!

Why regularly wash your makeup brushes

When we use a makeup brush, the bristles not only collect cosmetics, but also grease and dirt from the skin. If we don’t wash them quickly, colonies of bacteria and mites can form. And if we share our brushes with someone, we risk spreading the bacteria!

And what is the effect of using dirty brushes? First, it increases the risk of acne and skin infections. In addition, creamy products can stick to the hairs and solidify, causing them to lose their elasticity.

It is therefore essential to wash your makeup brushes, as we show you below.

How to clean makeup brushes step by step

Once you understand the importance of brush cleaning, it’s time to learn how to do it right. In this section, we will explain the basic procedure, which works well in most cases.

Step 1: Use hot water

The first thing to do is to wet the brushes with warm water, preferably under running water. This will help dissolve the deposited makeup.

Make sure the bristles are completely wet, but the water does not reach the ferrule (the piece of metal that connects the bristles to the handle). Moistening this area could melt the glue and cause the hairs to fall out.

Step 2: wash the brushes

In a small bowl, mix warm water and baby shampoo or antibacterial soap. Dip the brush in water and rub gently with your fingers to remove all makeup. We recommend doing this for a few minutes to get good results.

On the other hand, in the case of smaller brushes, it is better to put the cleaner in the palm of your hand. This will prevent the ferrule from getting wet when submerged.

REMARK: some people use dish soap to clean makeup brushes. However, even though it removes grease, it can damage the bristles. Therefore, only use it as a last resort and choose an eco-friendly alternative.

Step 3: Rinse thoroughly

Rinse thoroughly under running water until all traces of detergent are removed. If you notice that the makeup has not been completely removed, you can repeat the previous step. Once done, try to return the bristles to their normal shape with your fingers.

Step 4: Let dry

Use a paper towel or dry cloth to remove excess water. Leave to dry, preferably upright with the bristles down. If this is not possible, you can place them horizontally, making sure that the bristles do not touch the surface so that they do not lose their shape.

Makeup brushes should never be dried with the bristles facing up, as water may drip into the glue that attaches them to the handle.

let dry

How to wash heavily soiled makeup brushes

If you’ve never washed your brushes before, it’s time for a heavy-duty cleaning. Especially if you often use creamy products, which adhere better than powders. For this reason, we suggest a second method for cleaning heavily soiled brushes.

Step 1: Prepare the brushes

The first thing to do is to try to remove excess cosmetics with a tissue. However, this gesture may not be very effective if the makeup is dry and very tight.

In this case, you can dissolve it with olive or almond oil. To do this, add a few drops to a piece of paper and use it to scrub the hairs. Both alternatives have antibacterial properties and their oil base works as a makeup remover.

Another option is to dip the brushes in isopropyl alcohol, which acts as a solvent. It should be noted that you should not use this product frequently, as it can be abrasive to the hairs.

For both options, rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water before proceeding to the next step.

Step 2: Wash your brushes thoroughly

To clean heavily soiled brushes, you will need to use a slightly more aggressive method. Here are two alternatives.

The first is to rub the bristles in Castile soap for a few minutes. Then, set the soap aside and continue scrubbing the brush until all the makeup comes off.

Another option is to use an exfoliating mitt. Put on a small amount of baby shampoo (or your trusted cleanser) and gently scrub the brush in small circles.

Step 3: Wait for them to dry

It only remains to rinse with plenty of water and remove the excess with a towel. Then let the brushes air dry, with the bristles down or horizontal.

You’re in a rush ? How to quickly clean makeup brushes

In the previous sections, we have explained how to effectively wash makeup brushes. However, as you may have noticed, it takes a few minutes to clean and then several hours to dry completely.

If you have an important event and can’t wait that long, here’s a trick to fix it in less than two minutes. All you will need is a makeup remover wipe or a tissue soaked in makeup remover.

Glide the bristles several times to remove as much makeup as possible. You can rub the bristles gently, but try not to wet the ferrule.

REMARK: this method is also a good option if you need to remove the color from the brushes to apply another product. However, it is not very effective in eliminating bacteria and therefore does not replace regular washing.

What other options are there for washing makeup brushes?

The above methods are the cheapest alternatives for cleaning makeup brushes. The best thing is that they are very effective. However, there are some products on the market specifically dedicated to washing makeup brushes that can save you a lot of time. So here are some very useful ones.

beauty accessories

If you want to know how to wash makeup brushes in minutes without soap or water, you should try a cleaning sponge. You will find several models on sale, for example those from Fenty Beauty or Sephora which have a porous surface.

To clean makeup brushes with these tools, simply rub the surface in a circular motion. It is not necessary to add detergent, but be sure to wash the sponge from time to time.

On the other hand, if you have a lot of brushes and need deep cleaning, a cleaning mat is a good investment. They are available in different materials and are placed in the sink to rub the brushes on.

Specific products

Although baby shampoo works well, buying makeup brush cleaner can help keep the bristles in good condition. There are liquid or gel options, but it doesn’t change how you clean the brushes.

If you don’t have much time to wash your makeup brushes, you can opt for a spray cleanser. To use, simply spray on hair and use a paper towel to remove makeup. It’s a quick-drying option, so your brushes will be ready to use in minutes.


How often should makeup brushes be washed?

Although regular washing is essential, there is no exact figure on how often to do it. However, after some extensive research, we suggest cleaning your brushes once a week or at the latest every two weeks.

Also, looking at the hairs can be a good indicator. If you find that they are dirty, either because of the color or because you used a liquid product, it may be time to clean them.

Tips to extend the life of your brushes

We have come to the end of our guide. Now you know how to wash makeup brushes easily and effectively. We hope this step-by-step guide has helped you take care of your accessories and your skin and look great without putting your health at risk. But before we say goodbye, we want to leave you with five final tips that will help you extend the life of your makeup brushes:

  1. Consider the material of the brushes: synthetic brushes can withstand frequent and thorough cleaning. Instead, those with natural hair need a gentler alternative.
  2. Be careful when drying: always remember to put them with the hair down or horizontally, never vertically with the head up. Don’t even use a hair dryer, as the heat damages the bristles.
  3. Store them properly: once dry, you can put the brushes in a special case, which does not deform the bristles. Alternatively, you can place them vertically, with the bristles facing up. Either way, make sure they don’t get wet and can get air.
  4. Try not to distort them: do not put unnecessary pressure on the bristles while cleaning them. Also, try not to wet the ferrule so that the glue lasts longer.
  5. Hydrate them: it sounds weird, but you’ll have to take care of your makeup brushes almost as if they were your hair. To keep a moisturizing mask from hurting once in a while, just make sure you rinse it off well.
See also  Review of Gyada Cosmetics face and eye contour masks.

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