Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

How to Clean Your Make-up Brushes September 17, 2012

Filed under: make-up — askanesthetician @ 7:15 am
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I own both expensive and inexpensive make-up brushes.  I would be lost without my Urban Decay Good Karma Powder Brush, but I equally love my Eco Tools brushes which cost me much less.  With proper care your make-up brushes should last you a long, long time. Luckily, caring for your make-up brushes doesn’t have to be a burden.

Why Should You Clean Your Make-up Brushes?

Simply put your make-up brushes are a breeding ground for bacteria that will spread all over your face if you don’t keep your brushes clean.  Furthermore, as Makeup Geek explains in the post How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes Like a Pro:

Makeup brushes can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Think of how much bacteria is on your face daily.  Bacteria and natural oils transmit onto your brushes every time they come in contact with your skin. And if you are using them on clients, you may be picking up germs and transferring them onto other people including you.

Regular Cleaning Will Help Remove:

  • Old Makeup
  • Dirt and Debris
  • Dead Skin Cells
  • Bacteria
  • Oils

Another benefit of keeping your makeup brushes clean is softness. Makeup buildup on your brushes can make them feel scratchy. Cleaning your brushes on a regular basis will help keep them soft and supple. This is especially great for people with sensitive skin.

How Often Should You Clean Your Brushes?

Opinions vary on how often you should clean your brushes.  According to Bobbi Brown, make-up artist and mogul, the frequency you clean your brushes varies according to their function.  Brown explained to Allure:

How often should you clean makeup brushes? 
For concealer and foundation brushes, at least once a week to prevent a buildup of product. And because these brushes are used on your face, the cleaner, the better. Brushes that are used around the eyes should be cleaned at least twice a month, while all others can be washed once a month.

(From Bobbi Brown Explains How To Clean Your Makeup Brushes)

Though I love Bobbi Brown I have to say that I disagree with her here.  I think that ALL your make-up brushes should be cleaned once a week.  Cleaning your brushes will prolong their life, not reduce it.  Plus anything that comes in contact with your eye area should be very clean so why only clean those brushes twice a month?  Make cleaning your brushes part of your weekend ritual or whenever it would be most convenient for you to remember to do it.

Just How Do You Clean Your Make-up Brushes?

Now here comes the tricky part – there are a lot of different methods out there for cleaning make-up brushes.  I’ll give you a few different ideas to choose from (look for the list below).  No matter which method you choose keep a few things in mind:

  • Makeup Geek suggests washing your brushes at night so that they are dry and ready for use in the morning
  • Bobbi Brown cautions letting your brushes dry on a towel; this could lead to mildew.  Instead, after reshaping the bristles, let them hang over the edge of your counter

Personally I think that when it comes to cleaning your brushes simplicity is best.  I like the method I found in Good Housekeeping (it pretty much was what I was already doing):

I have several makeup brushes that I would like to clean. What method do you recommend?
— Rebecca Stewart, Brandon, MS


Makeup brushes can hold bacteria, so it’s a good idea to clean them regularly with shampoo or a commercial brush cleanser. First, run water over the bristles, then apply just a drop of shampoo and lather up. Rinse extremely well to get rid of the soap residue, then squeeze out all the water with a towel. Allow brushes to air-dry.

Read more: Cleaning Makeup Brushes — Heloise Hints – Good Housekeeping

One word of caution –  though both Good Housekeeping and Real Simple advocate using a commercial make-up brush cleaner I don’t recommend it.  Those products are mostly alcohol which is drying.  Having said that – these cleaners are good when you need to clean brushes quickly such as in-between use on a few different people in a short period of time.  When you have time and are washing your own brushes simply use shampoo or soap.  I use whatever hand soap I have in my bathroom at that moment.

More ideas on how to clean your make-up brushes:

If you have a favorite way to clean your make-up brushes please share below!

Image from


One Response to “How to Clean Your Make-up Brushes”

  1. Tammy Lanier Says:

    I also put a drop of conditioner to keep the bristles soft.

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