Deep clean makeup brushes

We paint, contour, and flush our faces with makeup brushes every day, but how often are those brushes being cleaned after the fact? Turns out, not enough. (Shocker.) According to dermatologists and makeup artists, we should be sudsing up our tools on a weekly basis — at least — in order to prevent bacteria buildup, which can ultimately led to unwanted breakouts. Read on to find out how to clean up your makeup brushes the right way.

First of all, how often should you clean your makeup brushes?

Most dermatologists will tell you to soak your tools, especially foundation and concealer brushes, once a week — at minimum — to prevent product buildup. Because these brushes are used on your face, the cleaner, the better, says Bobbi Brown. “Brushes that are used around the eyes should be cleaned at least twice a month,” she says. “All others can be washed once a month.”

According to makeup artist Ashleigh Ciucci, soaping up your makeup brushes regularly can extend the life of the bristles and make for a better makeup application. “Brush hairs and sponges are porous, so they hold onto oils, debris, and bacteria,” she says. “If your brushes are dirty, your application will be spotty and blending will be difficult.”

What should you use to clean your makeup brushes?

The best (and most thorough) method for cleaning your tools requires only water and either a gentle soap (regular soap formulas can dry out the brush’s bristles, especially if they are made of natural hair) or brush cleanser. (Easy, peasy.)

Sign Up for Allure’s November Beauty Box

This November, discover your new favorite products with Allure’s Beauty Box, filled to the brim with brands beloved by our editors, including Peter Thomas Roth’s hyaluronic acid-infused moisturizer and the incredibly hydrating Color Splash Lipstick from Tarte.

ArrowHow do you actually clean the brushes?

Follow these seven steps for cleaner, good-as-new brushes and blenders.

  1. Wet the bristles with lukewarm water.
  2. Place a drop of makeup brush cleanser or soap into the palm of your hand.
  3. Gently massage the tips of the bristles in your palm.
  4. Rinse the bristles.
  5. Squeeze out the excess moisture with a clean towel.
  6. Reshape the brush head.
  7. Let the brush dry with its bristles hanging off the edge of a counter, thereby allowing it to dry in the correct shape. Never let your brushes dry on a towel — the bristles can become mildewed.

Mid-wash, keep the base of the brush head away from soap and water. The bristles are glued to the base, and water and detergent can cause the glue to disintegrate and the bristles to come loose and shed. Do not dry vertically — this will cause water to leak into the ferrule , which will also loosen the glue and lead to bristle loss.

Do you recommend any makeup brush cleaning products?

Two products stand out: the 2X Sigma Spa Brush Cleaning Glove and Vera Mona Color Switch.

Vera Mona Color Switch

Every few weeks, I get a text from a friend asking me how to clean makeup brushes. “Do I just use soap?” or, “I read somewhere that can be used to clean them?” or, “Do I even have to clean them?” (Ugh, YES.) And then I launch into a long conversation about how exactly you wash your makeup brushes and Beauty Blenders, and around and around we go.

MORE: 10 Makeup Brushes The Internet Is Obsessed With

Clearly, there’s a bunch of confusing information out there, and even more clearly, makeup brushes are not getting cleaned the way they should be (or at all, which is too horrible to think about…all of that harbored bacteria…). So instead of leaving you to your own devices with a possibly crappy DIY recipe, we broke down the five best ways to wash your makeup brushes, from the very basic soap and water, to an insanely expensive automated machine. Scroll down to find your favorite method, and then get those brushes clean.

1. Soap. Water. Hands. Done.

This is my personally preferred method for brushes and Beauty Blenders, because #easy, but you can’t just squeeze any ol’ soap on your precious brushes—you need to either use Dawn (the gentlest of antibacterial soaps) or none. Or, I guess you do have a third option, which is to use any generic soap and watch the bristles of your brushes gradually dry out and fall apart. Yay!

2. With a fancy, ribbed silicone mitt or mat.

If using your hands doesn’t feel thorough enough for your deep-cleaning desires, then no worries—we’ve got you covered. You can slip on the Sigma Spa Brush Cleaning Glove or set the Real Techniques Brush Cleansing Palette in your sink, both of which have an insane amount of rubby nubby patches to really wash away grime in the grooves of your brushes. The only caveat: You have to wash the matt and mitt after each use, too, to prevent bacteria from trying to set up shop.

3. Baby shampoo and a bowl.

Hey, if baby shampoo works for the world’s most-sensitive, delicate creatures, then it’s definitely going to work for your makeup brushes. The upside to using baby shampoo over regular dish soap is that it conditions your brush’s bristles while removing gunk, without any stiff, starchy residue. The downside is that you won’t get the same bacteria-killing benefits, which may be a deal-breaker for some.

4. With a cleansing balm.

Makeup-brush cleansing balms, like Japonesque Solid Brush Cleaner, are basically a cross between a bar of soap and baby shampoo. They’re generally formulated with a mix of oils (or, in Japonesque’s case, goat’s milk, olive oil, and palm butter) that are solidified in a little jar and lather lighting when you rub your brushes against them. The result: clean, soft, conditioned brushes.

5. With a hi-tech, brush-cleaning machine.

We’ll be the hundredth person to say that the Lilumia brush-washing machine is absolutely unnecessary for cleaning brushes, especially for $160, but it’s totally an option for people who just really, really hate cleaning their brushes. How it works: Insert six small brushes into the slots of the machine (pointed downward so the bristles rest in the reservoir of soap), close the egg-shaped lid, turn it on, and that’s it. The machine agitates the bristles back and forth in soap, then drains, and then does two rinse cycles—basically like a washing machine for your brushes. Does it work? Uh, kinda. Is it loud and bulky and expensive? Uh, yes. Check out this beauty blogger’s review, here:

Easy Steps for Cleaning Makeup Brushes

Many women don’t know how to clean makeup brushes and find the idea a bit daunting, but it’s so simple. It’s important to remember that getting your brushes wet won’t harm them, so don’t be afraid of using a good amount of water! Though, don’t soak the entire brush in water – you want to avoid getting the handle or the metal bit of the brush too wet, as this might harm the glue that holds the bristles together.

  • If you’re using a makeup brush cleaner from a shop, then follow the directions on the label.
  • If you’re using natural products, apply a small amount to the palm of your hand.
  • Swirl the brush around in the product, ensuring that it gets well into the fibres.
  • Holding the brush facing downwards, place the fibres of the brush under a stream of clean, cold water, gently pulling downwards on the fibres.
  • Continue applying the product, and rinsing, until the water runs clear.
  • Squeeze out any excess water using a towel or kitchen roll.
  • Reshape your brush whilst it is still wet so that it dries into its natural shape.
  • Place the brush flat, with the bristles hanging over the edge of a table so that they aren’t squashed down.
  • Never stand the brush up to dry. This allows excess water to drip into the handle area, which could loosen the glue and cause the bristles to fall out.
  • If you want, when the brush is almost dry, but still a little damp, apply a small amount of conditioner and reshape once more.
  • When your brush is completely dry, fluff the bristles, and you should be left with a clean and hygienic makeup brush that is as good as new.

5 totally genius ways you can add baby oil to your beauty routine

Image zoom S847/iStock/Getty Images

In terms of beauty products, I often subscribe to the same mindset Alton Brown has about kitchen utensils: they must serve more than one purpose. I have a soft spot for pragmatism and versatility. For example, my heart pitter-patters for a lip color that doubles as blush, and heaven help my wallet when I meet an alphabet cream that promises W, X, Y, and Z.

Cue baby oil. While many pass by this product without a second thought, mentally reserving it for miniature humans, it’s actually one of the best products an adult can keep in her home. Baby oil is typically 98% mineral oil and 2% fragrance. If fragrance bothers you, there’s always the option to head to the digestive health section at your local pharmacy and pick up 100% mineral oil. This is scent-free but thicker than baby oil due to tocopherol additives. I’ve used both and prefer the former, but you do you.

Now, before you recoil in fear at the thought of using mineral oil, about which people often make false assumptions, let me briefly fill you in on a few details.

First, mineral oil is non-comedogenic to humans, meaning it won’t clog pores. It’s also an inert substance, so it’s not going to react when it comes into contact with any other product you’re using. That is a major double win.

Additionally, because mineral oil molecules are so large, they do not penetrate they skin, but instead create a protective barrier. In return, your skin, hair, nails—or wherever you apply it—better retains moisture. As you can probably tell from your experience in handling mineral oil, it’s also quite emollient and softens the skin dramatically.

Baby oil’s utility is only limited by your imagination. Here, however are the five most common ways I use it.

Oil Cleansing Method (OCM)

I’ve been using the oil cleansing method for a little while now, and I can’t imagine going back to my former routine.

I essentially do a double cleanse that consists of OCM and then a foaming cleanser follow-up. If you haven’t tried it before, you will be shocked at how much dirt and makeup comes off with OCM.

Because it’s non-comedogenic, baby oil/mineral oil is commonly used as base for most OCM cleansers. You can add other oils depending on your skin’s need to create a personalized concoction. I often just mix mine with a little tea tree oil, which is antibacterial and assists in acne prevention and reduction.

The OCM is really easy. Just apply a little bit of oil to your cheeks, forehead, nose and chin, and then massage gently in small circles. In additional to removing dirt and the day’s makeup, you’ll also dislodge little gritty plugs in the skin. Massage for two to five minutes and then wipe off completely with a warm, clean washcloth.

Removing eye makeup

Not into the thought of cleaning your entire face with oil? That’s cool. You should at least try using baby oil as an eye-makeup remover, though.

Just apply a little to a cotton ball or a reusable makeup pad and gently wipe until all that mascara, eyeliner and shadow is gone.


Forget expensive shaving creams—all you need is baby oil.

This will seriously change your life. Just slather some baby oil onto your entire leg and shave per normal. You won’t have to apply a moisturizer afterward, either, because the baby oil is so emollient. Multi-functionality at its finest.

Conditioning and cleaning makeup brushes

About once every other week, I clean and condition my makeup brushes with baby oil. I’ve been told by makeup artists that over-conditioning brushes can make them too soft and not as easy to use, so I alternate every other week with a standard brush wash (I typically use Beauty Blender Solid Cleanser).

Your brushes do need to be conditioned, though, especially if they’re made of natural hair. Baby oil is the perfect product for this.

To cleanse and condition, just apply a few drops of baby oil into the palm of your hand and swish your brush around. Rinse with warm water, gently press and then lay flat until the bristles are completely dry.

Tip: never dry with the bristles up or down. Letting them dry bristles-up allows water to trickle into the ferrules, which shortens your brush’s life. Letting them dry bristles-down disrupts their natural shape.

Smooth parched ends

When I’m in a pinch—or when my hair really, really needs some TLC—I use baby oil on dry ends to give them a boost. They become instantly softer, glossier and healthier looking. Just make sure you don’t apply baby oil directly to your hair, which can weigh it down and make it verge on greasy.

Apply a tiny bit to a reusable makeup pad or some tissue and allow it to absorb some. Then pull your hair through the lightly soaked pad/tissue. Finally, let the baby oil soak into your hair a little bit and then style per normal.

Like I said, these are only five of the most common ways I use baby oil. I’ve also used it as a moisturizer for my cuticles, on calluses and feet to soften the skin, as a post-shower moisturizer and more. I always have baby oil on hand and you better believe I carry my travel size with me whenever I leave home.

Do you use baby oil for anything?

This article originally appeared on xoJane.

  • By xoJane
  • Try not to use a brush cleaner that is alcohol-based, as this can dry out the brushes. Instead, try mixing a teaspoon of melted coconut oil into your cleansing solution. This will help to remove any dirt from the brushes and keep them soft.
  • Rinse

    • Using warm water, wash the cleansing product out of your brushes until the water runs clearly.
    • Once finished, gently squeeze out excess wash and use your fingers to restructure the bristles into their original shape.


    • Lay your brushes out to dry, ensuring that the bristles are hanging over the edge of your surface. Doing this will allow the fibres to dry quickly and evenly, as air can reach the brush from all sides.
    • Top tip from Florrie: ‘Lay your brushes flat to dry as opposed to standing up in a jar, as the moisture can run down the handles. This will loosen the glue around the joint where the hair is bound to the handle (the ferrule) and come apart.’

    For a deep rinse

    Sometimes, your brushes might be in need of some extra love.

    For a deep clean, we like Dr. Bonner’s Pure Castille Liquid Soap. Organic and free from preservatives, it is the ideal product for a spot of brush cleaning. Its gentle formula lathers up easily, allowing you to deep clean and get all the dirt and grime off your fibres.

    For soft bristles

    Virgin or unrefined coconut oil is ideal for conditioning your brush and keeping the fibres extra soft without using any harmful ingredients. Try Vita Coconut Oil to keep your beauty applicators feeling super soft.

    Coconut oil has some other advantages too. It has anti-bacterial properties so will help to rid your brushes of any unfriendly bacteria. Also, it can be used on hair, so any excess can be used for a hair mask!

    Related Story

    For a quick clean

    Brush cleaning isn’t something most of us look forward to. It can often be a laborious and mundane task.

    But this Real Techniques Brush Cleansing Palette is here to save time for beauty lovers everywhere. It can cut washing time in half and save you from circled foundation stains on your palms. It’s an effective and inexpensive alternative to Sigma’s Spa Brush Cleaning Glove.

    For sponges

    With makeup sponges rising in popularity, it’s vital to keep them as clean as your brushes to keep bacteria at bay.

    Liquid cleansers can be tricky as too much product can get into the sponge and leave it hard after drying. To keep sponges soft, we like the BeautyBlender Pure Solid Cleanser. It comes with a silicone pad to allow deep cleansing and the packaging makes it ideal for travel.

    Best makeup organisers to store your beauty products in

    BlissHome Glam Cosmetics Organiser

    BUY NOW John Lewis & Partners, £18

    Make-up Organiser

    BUY NOW H&M, £12.99

    CFone Makeup Organiser

    BUY NOW Amazon, £18.99

    Argos Home 3 Drawer Cosmetics Caddy

    BUY NOW Argos, £20

    360° Rotating Cosmetic Makeup Organiser

    BUY NOW Wayfair, £29.99

    Pretty Things Clear Cosmetic Tower

    BUY NOW Cult Beauty, £75

    Zoeva Classic Brush Holder

    BUY NOW Feelunique, £10.50

    Makeup Organiser Jewellery Box

    BUY NOW Wayfair, £39.99

    Jodie Byrne Acrylic Makeup Organiser With Drawers

    BUY NOW Not On The High Street, £24.99

    H&S Acrylic Clear Make up Makeup Organiser Cosmetic Box

    BUY NOW Amazon, £13.99

    Pretty Clear Things 24 Lipstick Holder

    BUY NOW Cult Beauty, £20

    Stackers Glass Cosmetic Box

    BUY NOW John Lewis & Partners, £55

    Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.


    We all know that it’s bad for us to use dirty makeup brushes on our skin — come on, you wash your face twice a day, but how often do you actually give your tools the same kind of love? If you’ve been skipping because you’re worried about hurting your brushes, we’ve got an easy DIY way to clean them all up safely. And don’t forget to find the makeup brush that’s right for you too!


    Olive oil
    Antibacterial soap


    Step 1: Mix two parts antibacterial dish soap to one part of the extra-virgin olive oil on a clean plate (don’t use paper plate, as the oil will seep through).

    Step 2: Grab your first brush and wet it slightly with lukewarm water. Make sure the brush stays bristle-side down throughout the entire process. If water gets into the ferrule (the middle tube part that holds everything together) of the brush, it can loosen the glue, causing the bristles to fall out.


    Step 3: Dip the damp brush into the soap mixture and coat it thoroughly. Next, work the mixture into the bristles using the palm of your hand and fingers. Continue until the soapy residue is makeup free.

    Step 4: Rinse the brushes under lukewarm water until no soap runs from the bristles.

    Step 5: Roll a dish towel like you would a yoga mat, and drape a paper towel over it so that most of the paper towel hangs off. (The paper towel should look like a slide coming down from the dish towel). Next, arrange the brush so the top of the handle sits on top of the towel, pitching the rest of the brush down onto the paper towel. This will allow your brushes to dry on a slant, while keeping moisture away from the ferrule.

    Repeat with remaining brushes. Some make take two washings to get completely clean, depending on the amount of residue left behind. Allow them to dry overnight, and repeat about once a month.

    Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Mark Popovich

    How to Clean Makeup Brushes the Easy Way

    You probably have a small arsenal of essential makeup brushes that get used regularly. Over time, all of that foundation, eyeshadow, blush, and concealer can start to make brushes look less than pristine. Dirty makeup brushes can cause skin irritation, blemishes, and uneven makeup application, so it’s important to keep up with regular cleaning. Luckily, keeping your makeup brushes clean doesn’t have to be a chore. (Because applying makeup and trying new beauty styles is the fun part.) We asked the pros for their advice on how to clean makeup brushes, and their tips are remarkably simple.

    Image zoom

    Pro Tips for Cleaning Makeup Brushes

    You’ll find plenty of wipes, liquid cleaners, and even solid, soap-like makeup brush cleaners in the cosmetics aisle, at your favorite beauty store, and at department-store beauty counters. But the pros say to skip these (often expensive) makeup brush cleansers. Unless you use a variety of eyeshadows and only one or two brushes, you probably don’t need a brush cleaner, says makeup artist Jamie Greenberg. Most people need only a basic bar soap, such as Ivory, to get the job done. A dedicated brush cleanser (such as Parian Spirit, $18), which Angella Valentine, key makeup artist for Late Night with Seth Meyers, uses when working with guests on the show, is more of a “clean-as-you-go product.” Rather than a routine, deep-clean product, it quickly removes color from brushes before you dip them in another compact.

    How to Clean Makeup Brushes

    So if specialty products aren’t the go-to for cleaning makeup brushes, but you still need to clean your makeup brushes, what’s the solution? One of the best ways to clean makeup brushes is with a basic bar of soap. The method is quite simple:

    1. Swirl the makeup brush on a bar of soap under a running faucet. Work out the oils or colors onto the bar until the water runs clear. Be gentle so as not to damage the brush bristles or sponge applicator.
    2. Rinse the makeup brush lightly until all the soap is gone and the water runs clear.
    3. Dry your brushes carefully. After rinsing your brushes of soap residue, reshape the brush hairs and lay them on a towel to dry. Standing them up in a cup or storage container can cause the water to drip down the brush, which Greenberg says will rust the ferrule or rot the wooden handle. It could take several hours for them to dry completely, so plan to wash your makeup brushes in the evening and let them dry flat overnight.

    How to Clean Makeup Brushes Naturally

    If you already have a favorite natural mild soap, shampoo, or face wash, you have a go-to natural makeup brush cleaner. Just be sure it is fragrance-free and doesn’t contain anything that will irritate your skin, and get to cleaning!

    Image zoom Soft and shapely new style make up aplicator spnges

    Cleaning Beauty Sponges

    Makeup sponges and Beauty Blenders are tiny miracle workers, but they also need a good cleaning from time to time. Again, gentle and mild cleaners are key. Rinse the sponge under warm water with a tiny bit of cleanser, gently squeeze to remove excess moisture, and let dry. Avoid wringing or twisting as this can cause the makeup sponge to break down.

    More Makeup Brush Cleaners

    Baby shampoos, known for their mildness, are also a favorite for cleaning makeup brushes. Many baby shampoos use natural ingredients, so if using natural products is a priority for you, look in the baby aisle. You’ll often find small bottles of baby shampoo in the travel-size section, so you don’t have to find storage space in your bathroom for yet another bulky bottle.

    Some people like to condition their brushes, which is especially important for natural bristle brushes. To do so, turn to baby oil or liquified coconut oil, a current beauty favorite, to get the job done. Swirl the makeup brush head gently and lightly in a few drops oil. Rinse with water and gently dab to remove excess moisture and lay flat to dry.

    And of course, there is a wide variety of cleaners made specifically for cleaning makeup brushes. If you go this route, read the label, match the cleaner to your type of brush, check out the ingredients list, and always follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.

    In a world of beauty hacks (some proven, some not), proceed with caution when using makeup brush cleaning hacks, such as using vinegar or your microwave to clean a beauty sponge. While these may seem ingenious, intense cleaning methods such as acidic vinegar and powerful microwave heat can do more harm than good to your makeup brushes.

    Image zoom

    How Often Should You Wash Your Makeup Brushes?

    Greenberg recommends cleaning makeup brushes once a week, or, at the very least, once a month. So how do you know when it’s time to clean your makeup brushes? Grab a mirror. Brushes overdue for a sudsing might have caused that bothersome blemish on your cheek. Dirty makeup brushes could also be the reason your blush has been looking blotchy and your eyeshadow refuses to blend. According to Valentine, clean brush hair adheres to product better, resulting in more even distribution of color.

    You can come by makeup brushes pretty cheaply, so you might be tempted to just buy a new one. But the more you care for your makeup brushes, the longer they’ll last, especially if they’re high-quality. And we’ll say it again: caring for and cleaning makeup brushes is straightforward. And if you’re diligent about keeping your makeup brushes and applicators clean, you can feel good about spending a few extra dollars on high-quality versions that might do a better job of applying makeup than their inexpensive counterparts. Plus, longer lasting brushes means fewer disposable ones in the landfill.

    Although the buildup on makeup brushes is off-putting, getting them back to pristine condition is easy and you likely already have what you need to get the job done. So grab some soap, baby shampoo, or makeup brush cleaner, and you’ll be on your way to a cleaner makeup routine in no time.

    • By PJ Feinstein and Alicia Chilton

    6 Big Mistakes You’re Making While Washing Makeup Brushes

    If you wear makeup with any regularity, you probably own a few makeup brushes and you’re also probably aware of the importance of washing said makeup brushes. Even if you think you’re pretty good about keeping your tools clean, however, there’s probably a few things that you could improve on. Most of us spend a good amount of money on makeup brushes so it’s important to take good care of them so that they last. It’s also imperative that your brushes are cleaned regularly and properly to ensure that you’re not damaging your skin.

    Julie Russak, M.D., FAAD, Board Certified Dermatologist and founder of Russak Dermatology Clinic and Russak+ Aesthetic Center in NYC, explains why it’s so important to wash makeup brushes regularly: “Dirty makeup brushes are one of the main causes of acne concerns for women. When applying makeup, you are using the same brush every day that has left over foundation, powder etc. on top of what you are applying. This can clog up pores! If you don’t wash your makeup brushes enough, you spread dirt and bacteria from your face, to your makeup, then back to your face. Bacteria and dirt builds up, leaving you with stiffer bristles that can really aggravate your skin. This can cause infections on the face.” Yikes!

    So we’re agreed: It’s important to wash your brushes, and to do it right. Here are six common mistakes that people make when washing their makeup brushes (and how to fix them).

    1. Not Washing Brushes Often Enough

    Without a doubt, the biggest mistake we all make when it comes to washing our makeup brushes is simply not doing it often enough. But how often should you be washing your brushes? It depends on a few factors, such as what the brushes are used for and how often you use them.

    According to Dr. Russak, “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 also be cleaned at least once a week.” You can probably go a little longer between cleanings for brushes that are used to apply powder and blush, but the more often you use your brushes the more often you should wash off all the product build-up to eliminate bacteria and achieve a better application of product.

    As for makeup brushes that you haven’t touched in weeks, you should still give them a quick wash before using them because dust and dirt (and some cases, pet hair) can build up on brushes that are stored out in the open. You may want to consider storing brushes inside a drawer to keep them clean longer.

    2. Not Washing Thoroughly

    “Alright, alright,” you say. “I wash my brushes weekly. Happy now?” Nope! It’s not just how often you wash them — equally important is how you wash them. A quick rinse under the faucet with some suds is not enough to completely eliminate product buildup and bacteria. You should massage your soap or cleaning product into brushes thoroughly and give extremely dirty brushes a second pass. Using something like the Practka Palmat or Sigma Spa Brush Cleaning Mat helps to massage soap all the way into the bristles.

    Practka Palmat, $10, Amazon; Sigma Spa Brush Cleaning Mat, $25, Amazon

    If you own a lot of makeup brushes then your weekly cleaning session might be somewhat time-intensive, so just prepare to put aside a half hour every weekend to zone out while massaging soapy makeup brushes. If you look at it as an extension of self-care (since clean makeup brushes are a pretty important factor when it comes to personal hygiene) I find it becomes less of a chore and more of a relaxing routine that allows you to disconnect and immerse yourself in a fairly mindless task. It’s practically therapeutic, so take your time and don’t rush it. If you do happen to be too busy to wash your brushes by hand every week, you could use a brush-cleaning machine such as the Lilumia 2, which washes your brushes for you in 15 minutes.

    Lilumia 2, $158, Amazon

    3. Using The Wrong Product

    Dr. Bronner 18-IN-1 Hemp Pure-Castile Soap, $8, Amazon; Drunk Elephant’s Pekee Bar, $28, Amazon; e.l.f Brush Shampoo, $8, Amazon

    Technically, you can use almost anything you happen to have on hand to wash makeup brushes. I like e.l.f.’s very affordable Brush Shampoo and sometimes I use Dr. Bronner’s 18-IN-1 Hemp Pure-Castile Soap because it’s organic. In a pinch, I even use whatever facial cleanser I’m currently using, such as Drunk Elephant’s Pekee Bar; that’s usually a good option because if you already know your face tolerates a product, it should be safe to use on your brushes.

    However, Dr. Russak recommends being choosy when possible: “It is always best to use either an all-organic soap or a non-scented soap to clean your brushes. To clean my brushes, I first wet them thoroughly with water and rinse them with warm water and a gentle baby shampoo. It is best not to use anything with fragrance because these brushes will be applied directly to your face. Any leftover scent that may not have been rinsed off can irritate the skin and cause even more damage and breakouts.” So don’t worry too much about breaking the bank for expensive makeup brush cleansers, but do be careful to check the ingredient list of any soap to make sure it doesn’t have irritants like artificial fragrance — especially if you have sensitive skin.

    4. Treating All Brushes Equally

    Makeup brushes can be made out of synthetic or natural hair bristles, and it’s important to know which kind you own when it comes to cleaning them. If you’re not sure, a quick Google search of your makeup brush brand should tell you the answer.

    For example, you may have heard that you can use dish soap to get stubborn oils and glitter out of makeup brushes. That is true, but it’s only safe to use dish soap on synthetic bristle makeup brushes; if you use it on brushes with real hair it may damage them. You can also use a conditioning product to soften natural hair brushes but there’s not much point in doing that with synthetic brushes.

    When in doubt, just remember you can be tough on synthetic brushes but natural brushes require a little more TLC.

    5. Not Setting Brushes Out To Dry Correctly

    Possibly the most annoying aspect of washing makeup brushes is having to wait for them to dry afterwards. Obviously you should set aside a day to wash them when you know you’re not going to be using them. Less obvious, however, is how you should set your brushes up to dry properly. You never want to stand your brushes upright when they’re wet; the water will potentially damage the handle and dissolve the glue, leading to brush shedding. Instead, either lay them flat or — better yet — hanging upside down to help the bristles keep their shape and to keep the water from dripping down the handle. You can place them on a paper towel or clean washcloth to dry, or better yet, hang them from a drying rack for brushes such as this one or this one.

    6. Forgetting To Wash Sponges And Other Tools As Well

    A relevant but oft-neglected aspect of makeup hygiene is the cleansing of sponges and other tools. Dr. Russak says that it’s important to wash your makeup sponges too: “Damp makeup brushes are the most prone to bacteria due to exposure. Always be sure to wash your damp sponges daily, and keep them in a specific area to air out.” While you’re at it, make sure to clean your eyelash curler and tweezers regularly as well. And if you get sick, be sure to disinfect any tools or products that may have been contaminated.

    Images: Kelly Dougher

    I don’t clean my makeup brushes nearly as often I should simply because I hate doing it. All that time could be put to good use doing things like watching TV, stocking up on the latest products, or attempting a blogger-approved cut crease for the 50th time. Even though I wear makeup most days, I try to put cleansing my brushes off for as long as possible—which is usually a little too long.

    When I finally get around to cleaning my brushes, I feel so much better. There’s nothing like bouncing a squeaky clean Beautyblender on your face, knowing you’re not just spreading around caked on makeup from past uses. Not only is cleaning your tools important to keeping them around longer, but it also rids them of bacteria build-up that can cause breakouts.

    “If not properly cleaned, makeup brushes can carry hordes of bacteria that can cause serious damage to the skin,” board-certified dermatologist and RealSelf advisor Joel Schlessinger, M.D., tells SELF. “Not to mention, buildup that gathers on dirty makeup brushes causes them to deteriorate quicker, affecting your makeup application.” According to makeup artist Bobbi Brown, brushes that are used around the eyes should be cleaned at least twice a month while all others can be washed once a month.

    On most occasions (since usually I’d rather schedule a trip to the dentist’s office than clean my beauty tools), I opt for a quick method that just removes excess pigment from my brushes. I really like using Sephora Collection’s Daily Brush Cleaner ($9) spray with a paper towel, or I rub my brush in the Color Switch By Vera Mona Brush Cleaner ($15). Sometimes I do a combination of the two to get the job done. When you’re working on a time crunch and need to transition from lid color to crease color fast, these two products are definitely a saving grace.

    Of course this temporary cleaning fix doesn’t solve the problem completely—there’s no substitute for deep cleaning your makeup tools. You wouldn’t settle for just using dry shampoo in place of actually washing your hair, right? Neither would I, which is why I decided to try out two different methods to clean my tools. The goal: Discover the method that is easy enough to actually maintain a regular brush cleaning habit. Fingers crossed.

    The DIY Method

    If you don’t want to spend a ton of money buying products on pre-made brush cleaners, you can go the cheaper route by using items that may already be in your pantry (all of this I learned through Pinterest, of course). Since I tend to break into Masterchef mode from time to time, I always keep a bottle of olive oil handy, and a bottle of antibacterial dish soap, like Dawn Ultra Platinum Dishwashing Liquid Dish Soap ($3) around.

    I mixed two parts dish soap with one part olive oil in a small bowl. Nardina HowertonNext, I wet my brushes and sponges one by one under the bathroom faucet, dipped them into my mixture, and swirled a few times. Then, I rubbed the bristles between my fingertips to remove debris, and rinsed them under the faucet until no soap or makeup ran from the brush. Tiffany DodsonI repeated all the steps with my makeup sponges. Tiffany DodsonAfter squeezing excess water from the tools, I reshaped my brush bristles and tried out another culinary-inspired beauty hack—using a cutting board to dry my brushes. Tiffany Dodson

    By Nikki Brown · June 22, 2017

    We’re just one day into summer, which means you’re probably in reset mode. There are plenty of ways to usher in a “new season, new me” attitude, but there’s something especially gratifying about spring cleaning your personal space.

    And regardless of how extensive or minimal your beauty routine is, replacing your makeup tools should be a part of that ritual. Ever wake up to a surprise pimple or breakout and wonder how it got there, in spite of your careful and calculated routine? Dirty brushes and sponges could be the culprit. Even if they still look presentable, the amount of germs festering on top of them only spreads in the summer heat. Forget about an ill-placed lash or mismatched foundation.

    One of the biggest mistakes makeup wearers are guilty of is using tools way beyond their expiration date. According to Jean Baik, founder of MISS A (a website that sells beauty essentials for $5 or less!), weekly washes or spot cleaning will elongate their life and save you money in the long run.

    “Dust and dirt will collect on your makeup brushes and you don’t want to put that back on your face!,” she says. When cleansing your makeup brushes, “Wet the brush hair and put a little dab of brush cleaning soap or baby shampoo. Rinse under water and squeeze out access water. Lay flat to dry on a towel.”

    available at Miss A $1 Buy Here

    For those who like to layer on their faves everyday, there’s also new wave of tools that this process to the next level, like the AOA Brush Cleaning Egg. Consider it the heavy duty makeup equivalent of a car wash, where you brush your tool back and forth to remove all signs of pigment. At the same time, if you notice that the bristles on your tools are beginning to fall out, Baik says that’s a telltale sign that you need to trash them. But at the end of the day, “if you take good care of your brushes by washing them properly, you really don’t have to replace them very often; especially good quality brushes.”

    available at Miss A $1 Buy Here

    On the other hand, sponges require a bit more attention. For starters, if you’ve been using the same one since spring, it’s time to say goodbye. “I replace my Wonder Blender sponge every 2-3 weeks…I always use a new one when some of the darker stains don’t come out after washing or little pieces of the sponge start to break off.”

    available at Miss A $1 Buy Here

    The cleansing routine is similar to brushes, since you simply need to use a brush cleaning soap or facial cleanser to wash and squeeze to rinse until water run clears. However, remember to keep your sponge elevated in something like the Wonder Blender Holder so it can completely dry. Happy cleaning!