You’ve Been Washing Your Makeup Brushes The Wrong Way (Here’s How To Do It Right)

washing makeup brushes

When you think about cleaning, it’s a good bet that your makeup brushes aren’t the first things that pop into your mind, but maybe they should. Your makeup brushes harbor bacteria and other unpleasantries if you neglect them. Then you put them on your skin, opening the door to potential infections.

Taking proper care of your makeup brushes and accessories is essential to your health and skin, and it prolongs the lifespan of your brushes. But you can’t just dunk your brushes in soapy water and call it a day. Keep reading to learn how to clean your makeup brushes the right way.

1. Don’t Use Rubbing Alcohol To Clean Makeup Brushes

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It’s common to use rubbing alcohol to sanitize makeup brushes. Spritzing your brushes lightly with rubbing alcohol helps disinfect them, however, don’t use it excessively. Dipping your brushes into rubbing alcohol or using it too frequently can damage the bristles, making them brittle.

Overuse of rubbing alcohol also loosens brush handles over time. If you clean your makeup brushes routinely, you shouldn’t need to disinfect them daily, unless you’re a professional makeup artist using your tools on multiple people.

2. Use Mild Dishwashing Soap Or Face Cleanser To Clean Makeup Brushes

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There are specific makeup brush soaps and solutions, but you don’t need them. Mild dishwashing liquid, baby shampoo, or your facial cleanser also work well. Again, don’t use rubbing alcohol, and steer clear of harsh soaps that dry out your brushes. If your makeup brushes have natural hair bristles, these are even more susceptible to damage. Therefore, a gentle cleanser and warm water are the only things you need to clean your brushes.

3. Don’t Soak The Entire Brush

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It would be easy peasy if you could let your brushes soak in a soapy solution of water, but this is a big no-no. Soaking the entire brush, including the handle, destroys your brush, significantly shortening its lifetime. When water collects under the ferrule (the piece that holds the bristles to the handle), it becomes loose over time. Once it loosens, it breaks, and the bristles fall out rendering the brush useless.

4. Gently Clean Makeup Brush Bristles

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To properly clean your makeup brushes, wet the bristles with warm water. Put a small drop of the appropriate cleanser in your hand and work it into a lather. Gently swirl the brush in the soapy mixture or massage the bristles with your fingertips, being careful to not tug or pull on the bristles.

5. Rinse Your Makeup Brushes Thoroughly After Cleaning

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6. Reshape Makeup Brushes Before They Dry

After cleaning your brushes, rinse them thoroughly under running water. Don’t dunk them in a cup and swish them around to rinse them. Remember, you don’t want to get the ferrule and handle wet. As you’re rinsing, continue until the water runs clear and no soap remains. If soapy residue lingers on your brush and dries it forms a coating that ruins the brush quality and hinders makeup application.

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Once you rinse your brushes, gently squeeze out excess water using a soft cloth or paper towel. This is where many people stop, thinking their task is complete, but you don’t want your brushes to dry in a weird shape. It’s vital to reshape your brushes before you dry them completely so the bristles don’t end up sticking out at weird angles. Simply use your fingers to gently shape your brushes.

7. Don’t Use A Hair Dryer

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If you need to use your makeup brushes and they’re still wet, it’s tempting to use a hairdryer to speed things up. However, using the dryer could melt the glue holding the ferrule in place. You might think, well, what if I use cold air? It’s still not the best idea, because the rush of air from the dryer blows the bristles around and leads to your brushes drying in weird shapes.

8. Don’t Dry Makeup Brushes Upright

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When you’re limited on vanity space, your go-to move may be to stick your brushes in a cup or your brush holder to dry. But drying makeup brushes upright isn’t ideal. If you dry them bristle side down, they won’t dry in the right shape, with the bristles ending up flattened or crooked. If you dry them with the bristles facing up, water drips down into the ferrule, and by now, you know what that means.

9. Lay Makeup Brushes Flat To Dry

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The best way to dry your makeup brushes is to lay them flat. Place them on a towel or paper towel and let the brushes hang over the edge of the counter. If you’re worried about drips, put another towel on the floor to catch anything that falls from the brush tips. Let your brushes air dry before storing them.

10. Don’t Ignore Proper Makeup Brush Storage

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A brush roll is a great way to keep makeup brushes in place, protected, and clean. Another option is a makeup bag or pouch that you use just for brushes. If convenience is important, there’s nothing wrong with keeping your brushes in a brush holder or cup, bristle side up. However, consider storing them in a cabinet or drawer until you need them to add an extra layer of protection against dust, bacteria, and other debris.

11. Know When It’s Time To Toss Old Makeup Brushes

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We get it. You love your makeup brushes. They’ve been there for you during all your important moments and helped you feel your best. But you have to know when it’s time to bid your brushes farewell. If bristles are falling out or bent, ferrules are loose, or you notice other signs of damage, it’s time to replace your brushes. You simply won’t get the makeup application you desire using a brush that’s past its prime.

12. Don’t Forget To Wash Beauty Blenders And Makeup Sponges

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When you clean your makeup brushes, don’t forget to include your beauty blenders and sponges (silicone sponges, not the cheap wedges that come with 20 to a bag. Toss these after each use). Use warm water and the same cleanser you use for your brushes. Massage the sponges, work up a good lather, and rinse. Repeat until you’ve removed all traces of makeup, then set the sponges on a towel to air dry.

13. Clean Makeup Brushes And Tools Frequently

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How often you clean your makeup brushes and sponges depends on how often you use them. But if you wear makeup every day, aim to clean your makeup brushes weekly. If you only wear makeup a few days a week, you could push this to every ten days or two weeks. Clean your beauty blenders at the same time, but plan to replace them every three to four months.

The best time to clean brushes is typically after your last makeup application for the day. This way, your brushes have adequate time to dry before you need them again.

14. Try a Makeup Brush Cleaning Tool Or Solution

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If you need extra help with cleaning your makeup brushes, consider using a silicone brush cleaner to help remove impurities. These tools feature raised bumps and ridges that loosen makeup and other particles, making them easier to clean.

Foldable options like a makeup brush cleaning bowl clean brushes and blenders and collapse for easy storage when not in use. There are also color-removal pads that clean brushes without soap or water. However, these are more for removing pigment if you’re using the same brush for several colors.