Clean Makeup Brushes: 5 Tips

Read on for tips on how to clean makeup brushes. Pictured is a black makeup brush against a bright pink and purple background.
Story by Anne Erickson

What’s the best way to clean makeup brushes? Read on for some tips that Anne loves to follow.

I admit that I always put off cleaning my makeup brushes and utensils way too long. But, with these simple tips on how to clean makeup brushes, it’s gotten a lot easier for me. After all, being of Norwegianon descent, I have very sensitive skin, so having clean makeup applicators is super important to avoid breakouts or any other skin irritations.

One piece of advice that I have is to actually mark in your planner or phone calendar when you’re going to clean your makeup brushes. That way, you’re on a schedule, and you won’t go for months and months without cleaning your brushes not realizing it. Also, make sure to allow plenty of time for the brushes to dry after cleaning, or else your next makeup job will be a mess.

Read on for five tips on how to clean makeup brushes, and get ready to blush!

Clean Makeup Brushes: 5 Tips and Best Practices

Use the right temperature of water

You don’t want to use super hot water, because it might harm the bristles, but you also don’t want to use ice-cold water, because it might not be able to get off all the dirt and grime. So, the solution is to use lukewarm water when washing your makeup brushes. Not too hot and not too cold makes for the perfect temperature!

Use your hands

When I first started washing my makeup brushes, I didn’t even think to use my hands. I just kind of plopped the brushes in some soapy water and called it good. Boy, was that a mistake! Now, I use my hands every time. First, I thoroughly wash my hands using the 20-second rule. Then, I put a small dollop of whatever cleanser I’m going to use into the palm of my hand. Next, I softly massage the tips of the bristles in my hand and with my fingers. The longer you do this, the more gunk will come off the bristles. Also, it’s better to gently massage the bristles for a long time instead of trying to speed up the process with a rougher delivery.

Rinse the bristles over and over again

One big mistake people often make when washing their makeup brushes is not rinsing off all the cleanser. That’s a big no-no, especially if you’re like me and have sensitive skin, because that left over cleanser can irritate your skin. Make sure to rinse the bristles thoroughly, every time. I actually do this for up to 15 minutes, which might be excessive, but it works.

Get rid of excess moisture

After you rinse off the brushes, don’t just let them dry right away. Not only would that cause them to take forever to dry, but it could cause mold or mildew to form. Yuck. When you’re finished rinsing off the brushes, squeeze out the excess moisture with a clean towel.

Let the brush dry the right way

Back in the day, I used to just leave my wet brushes on paper towels to dry and call it a day, but then I noticed that they always dried in a weird shape. Now, I set the brush to dry with its bristles hanging off the edge of a table or counter, which enables it to dry in the right shape. Don’t lay your brushes down on a cloth towel to dry, as that could create mold or mildew.

So, what about tools to clean those brushes? Personally, I just use cleanser that I know works well with my skin and basic paper towels and cloth towels. But, if you want to go wild, there are some very cool brush-cleaning products out there to make your cleaning routine snazzy. BEAKEY has a Makeup Brush Drying Rack, which offers nice place for your brushes to hang and dry. The Ranphykx Silicon Makeup Brush Cleaning Mat Makeup Brush Cleaner Pad offers a beautiful spot for you to do your cleaning. No, these are not affiliate links; just items I enjoy.

Don’t forget that when the time comes, you do have to part ways with your beloved brushes and admit they’re too old. I always toss my brushes when the bristles start to get rough, fray or crunch up. While following these tips on how to clean makeup brushes properly should help make them last long, they won’t last forever.