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Cleaning Makeup Brushes 101

If you’re like me, cleaning your makeup brushes is probably at the bottom of your to-do list… 

Image Source: Instagram @spectrumcollections

Right underneath ironing your curtains and paying bills. It’s one of those things we all just keep putting off. Because let’s face it…It’s not the most fun task. And does it really matter if it’s still got last week’s makeup on it? Or last month’s makeup?  

Actually, yes it does! 

Keeping your makeup brushes clean is not only the best way to take care of them, but it’s also better for your skin AND your makeup application too. And what’s better than clean, fluffy makeup brushes sitting pretty on your dressing table? (Did somebody say “easy Instagram picture”?) 

Here’s why you should clean your makeup brushes regularly: 

Better makeup application

A brush covered in makeup, whether it’s dried foundation, or 10 different shades of eyeshadow doesn’t apply makeup to the skin the way it should. Brushes that have been used to apply liquid products end up dragging the makeup across the skin rather than blending it flawlessly. Clean brushes make sure makeup goes onto the skin well, blends effortlessly and leaves a perfect finish.  

Prevent build-up of bacteria

Remember that time a spot or blemish seemed to come out of nowhere? The bacteria on your makeup brushes might be to blame. Once a brush has been used on the skin, the bacteria from our skin then sits on the bristles, multiplying. So next time you use the brush to apply makeup, that bacteria is smeared across your face blocking your pores. Not only can the bacteria cause spots but they can also cause skin infections such as rashes, conjunctivitis and pink eye. And until that comes into fashion (please, no), probably best to assume that it’s not a good look! 

Brushes last longer

Like anything in life, the better care you take of it, the longer it lasts. Which means less repurchasing of brushes, less waste in landfill and more money in your pocket. 

Cleaning brushes doesn’t have to be a complicated task.  

All you need are a couple of things you probably already have in your bathroom… some shampoo, a towel and (to make things easier) a brush cleansing mat. If you don’t have one of these silicone mats, they’re super affordable on Amazon. 

Whilst there are brush cleaning tools on the market now, the quickest and easiest method is as follows: 

  1. Prepare your space – Make sure to lay out a dry clean towel near the sink. This is to lay your brushes on to dry after you’ve cleaned them.

  2. Place your cleansing mat into the sink (suction cups on the base of the mat will hold it in place) and drizzle shampoo over the mat.
  3. Dampen the bristles of your brush – The key to protecting your makeup brushes whilst also making them super clean is to make sure the only part of the brush that gets wet is the bristles. If the barrel (the metal bit just above the bristles) gets wet, water can collect in this part and damage the brush.

    Taking one brush at a time, gently run the tap and hold the brush so the bristles sit under warm running water.  

  4. Clean the bristles – Once the bristles are wet, gently work the brush into the mat, making sure the shampoo lathers in the bristles. Don’t rub too hard so bristles don’t become damaged and fall out.  

  5. Rinse the bristles – Holding the brush with only the bristles under the running water, rinse out the lather. You may need to work the brush into the mat and rinse twice to make sure it’s all removed.  

  6. Lay flat to dry – It’s important to lay the brushes to dry, or alternatively you can pick up a tool which holds the brushes bristles down whilst they dry naturally. Avoid standing the brushes up to prevent water travelling down into the barrel and damaging the brush.
  7. Re-shape the bristles – If the brush head has become misshapen during the cleaning process, reshape the bristles whilst damp. 

It’s not the most fun task but once you get into the habit of cleaning them regularly it becomes quicker and easier. If your brush collection is excessive or you just don’t fancy standing at your sink hand cleaning brushes, you could invest in an electric brush cleaner. These make brush cleaning much quicker, however, they can also misshape the bristles and make it easier for water to become trapped in the barrel, so be careful.  

Oh, and no matter how tempted you are to put brushes in the washing machine, DON’T!  

A great way to keep on top of your brush cleaning is to aim to wash them properly once a week. If between washes if your brushes need a little refresh, or if you want to use an eyeshadow brush for different shades, you can use a brush cleanser spray. Apply a couple of spritzes onto the bristles and work it gently into a makeup pad to remove excess makeup. 


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