How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes: The Ultimate Guide

makeup brushes


Let’s face it: washing your makeup brushes is never going to be an enjoyable job. However, it is one of those necessary things that just has to be done. Looking after your brushes properly will not only keep things hygienic but will also drastically extend their lifespan. The following cheat sheet outlines the basics, such as when and how to wash your brushes the proper way.


Cleaning Schedule


The most important makeup brushes to clean are those used for your base (e.g. foundation, powder, concealer), especially if acne is a concern of yours. These brushes harbour an overwhelming amount of bacteria which can really upset your skin. While makeup experts recommend deep cleaning your brushes at least once a week, realistically most of us are never going to find the time do so. Aim for once a month (at least).


Brushes for more concentrated areas, such as eyes and lips, can get away with being washed less regularly unless you often switch the colours you’re using. Drastically changing makeup shade, without cleaning the brush, runs the risk of accidentally swiping a weird, muddy colour across your face. ‘Spot cleaning’ comes in handy for this.


Makeup sponges are a whole different story. Their porous nature means that they absorb and retain much more bacteria, especially if they are used when damp. Ensure you’re cleaning them at least once a week, but try for twice.


Deep cleaning


There are so many makeup brush cleaning products out there: foams, sprays, balms, gels… you name it, it probably exists. Keeping things simple, most people find that Johnson’s Baby Shampoo (£2.99) does a great job as it’s cheap and gentle. Use a small blob in the palm of your hand, swirl a damp brush around into it, then rinse thoroughly under the tap. Repeat until the brush is clean and the water runs clear.


Alternatively, if you’re looking to splash the cash a little more, then a cleanser like Japonesque’s Solid Brush Cleanser (£16) smells amazing and leaves brushes luxuriously soft. Dampen the brush and run it over the solid cleanser to create a lather, rinse and repeat.


To make things even easier, cosmetic brands have started developing products to help with the process. The Real Techniques Brush Cleansing Palette (£12.99) is designed to use with your normal brush cleanser and is created with different a variety lumps and bumps to help coax out the grime in your makeup brushes. A cheaper (and much smaller) alternative is the Brushegg Brush Cleaner (£5.99), which fits over two fingers and employs the same method of rubber grooves and bumps giving brushes a deeper clean.


Spot cleaning


Spot cleaning is useful for switching up your colour palette, or even just keeping things hygienic between washes. Use a spray like the B. Makeup Brush Cleanser (£4.99) directly on the brush and swirl it on some tissue until clean. This is great for instant results as it’s quick, easy, and the brushes are dry almost immediately.


For an even quicker way to refresh your brushes, simply run them over a makeup wipe and leave a few moments to dry. You can use your standard face wipes, however, some brands also sell special wipes specifically for brushes, such as Eco Tools Makeup Brush Cleansing Cloths (£6.99).




Having gone to all that effort to clean your makeup brushes, it makes sense to dry them properly. Drying your brushes upside down helps prevent the water dissolving the glue that holds the bristles to the handle. This will make brushes last longer and stops them from moulting excessively.


One way to do this is to lie the brushes down and elevate the base of the brush on a folded towel to tilt it downwards. Alternatively, you can place the brushes on the edge of a table with the brush end hanging over the edge (NB: use masking tape to prevent them falling off).


Final Word


As you are now well versed in the art of makeup brush cleaning, you have no excuses to be using dirty brushes to put on your makeup. Because, at the end of the day, what’s the point in investing in good skincare and nice makeup if your tools let the side down.


Leave a Reply