Table of Contents
- How To Clean Your Makeup Brushes
- How often should you clean your make-up brushes?
- How should you clean your make-up brushes?
- The best make-up brush cleaners
- How Often to Clean Makeup Brushes
- How to Clean Your Brushes
- Why Do Makeup Brushes Get So Dirty?
- How Often Should You Clean Your Makeup Brushes?
- 4 Steps to Keeping Your Makeup Brushes Clean
- Look for Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Makeup Brushes
- Can dirty makeup brushes cause pimples?
- How often should I wash makeup brushes?
- What should you clean makeup brushes with?
- 4 Must-Try Makeup Brush Cleansers
- Tools That’ll Make Cleaning Brushes A Lot Easier
- How do makeup artists clean their brushes?
- What home remedy can I use to clean my makeup brushes?
- Replace Unsalvageable Brushes With One of These
- How Often Should You Wash Your Makeup Brushes To Avoid Breakouts?
- MORE: The Weird Upside of Acne: Turns Out You’ll Age Better
- How Often Should You Wash Your Makeup Brushes?
It appears as though many of us could use a little reminder about the importance of cleaning our makeup brushes regularly! This is according to a 2015 poll where 39% of women reported cleaning their makeup brushes less than once a month, and another 22% reported not cleaning them at all.
And while cleaning your makeup brushes might sound like a tricky or time-consuming process, it doesn’t have to be that way! And today I’ll be showing you a simple and effective method for how to clean your makeup brushes.
But first, I wanted to talk a little bit about why it’s so important to clean your makeup brushes on a regular basis.
Why Should I Clean My Makeup Brushes?
The main reason it’s so important to keep your makeup brushes clean is because it’s hygienic. Dirty makeup brushes are loaded with oily makeup residue, dead skin cells, and bacteria, which is not a good combination if you’re looking to avoid breakouts!
In addition to the hygiene factor, clean makeup brushes are also better for application. Applying and blending your makeup to perfection is much easier with a clean brush! Using a dirty brush can lead to spotty coverage and other issues.
What Should I Use To Wash My Makeup Brushes?
There are several different cleansers you can choose from to wash your makeup brushes, sponges, and other tools. Some makeup brush manufacturers offer a special cleanser for their brushes, which is supposed to help extend their lifespan. These cleansers can be a bit expensive, but there’s no reason not to use one if you already have it!
I personally use a few drops of Dawn dish soap to wash my brushes! The grease-cutting formula makes short work of all the oily makeup residue trapped in the bristles.
In addition to brush cleansers or dish soap, you could also use a gentle face cleanser (such as Cetaphil) or even baby shampoo. Any of these options can get the job done, so use what you have at home!
How To Clean Your Makeup Brushes
- Cleanser of choice (see above)
- Silicone trivet
- Clean towel
Run the bristles of your makeup brush under warm water, but try your best to keep the handle dry. (If the part that holds the bristles in place gets wet, the bristles may loosen or fall out.)
Squirt a small amount of your brush cleanser of choice onto a silicone trivet. (There are silicone brush cleaning mitts that are designed for this purpose, but a silicone trivet works just as well and it’s likely cheaper too!)
Place the wet bristles of your brush against the soapy trivet and gently swirl it around. Rinse the loosened makeup out of the brush as necessary, and add a bit more soap to the trivet if you need it.
When the brush is good and clean, rinse it thoroughly under running water. Use a clean towel to squeeze any remaining water out of the bristles, then set the brush across the top of a cup and allow it to air dry for several hours. (Don’t let them dry brush side up in the cup. The moisture can seep down into the brush handle and weaken the glue.)
How Often Should I Do This?
Follow the steps above to wash your makeup brushes every two weeks. For brushes or sponges that you use to apply liquid makeup like concealer or foundation, washing those weekly will help you avoid product buildup.
Keep in mind that makeup brushes don’t last forever. Keep an eye out for shedding, discoloration, or lingering smells, which should be taken as signs that it’s time to replace that brush!
How do you like to clean your makeup brushes?
I may include affiliate links to products sold by others, but only when they are relevant and helpful. I always offer my own genuine recommendation. Learn more.
Hi, I’m Jillee!
I believe we should all love the place we call home and the life we live there. Since 2011, I’ve been dedicated to making One Good Thing by Jillee a reliable and trustworthy resource for modern homemakers navigating the everyday challenges of running a household. Join me as I share homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make life easier so you can enjoy it more!
Every day I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!
Beauty Cleaning Hair & Makeup
You cleanse your face every day. But how often do you wash the makeup brushes you use on your skin? Once a month? Once a year? Never?
From dead skin cells and bacteria to dirt, dust and product build-up, all manners of things can accumulate on the end of a make-up brush. How you store them can contribute, too.
Do they rattle around your makeup bag? Are they standing in a corner of the room? Have you ever dropped one on the carpet, and carried on using it?
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It’s probably safe to say, we could all do with makeup brush clean up! But how? And with what? To get the expert answers we all need, we went straight to the experts – make-up artists, beauty bloggers and creators of the Real Techniques brush range, Sam and Nic Chapman.
1. Generally speaking ladies, how often should we be cleaning our makeup brushes?
If you are only using your brushes on yourself then give them a good clean twice a week. If you suffer from skin breakouts, have any cuts or grazes or have an eye infection then you must clean your brushes every day.
2. Do some brushes need to be cleaned more regularly than others?
Yes, eyeliner brushes will need to be cleaned after every use to ensure you can achieve a clean, crisp line. Also a blush brush would need to be cleaned each day if you are changing colours. With your lip brush you need to clean with an oily eye make-up remover. This will ensure your lipstick is removed thoroughly from the brush hairs.
MORE: HOW TO REDUCE PUFFY EYES
3. What’s the best way to clean makeup brushes? How do you tackle your own?
Use a good quality brush cleanser and pour a small amount onto a thick tissue or kitchen roll. Swish the brush back and forth gently and then reshape the brush hairs while they are still wet. Leave the brushes hanging over the edge of a table to dry.
TRY: MAC Brush Cleanser, £11, maccosmetics.co.uk
4. Are there any different products/techniques for synthetic hair brushes vs natural?
You can pretty much treat them the same way. You can usually tell a synthetic brush because it feels different, however, synthetic brushes are such good quality these days, it can be hard to tell.
5. Any tricks for getting stubborn eye liner or caked-on lipstick out of brushes?
Use an oily eye makeup remover and then a brush cleanser afterwards to get the oily film off of the brush.
MORE: OUR FAVOURITE MASCARAS
6. Have you found a way to help them dry faster, by any chance?
Either hanging them upside down or hanging over the edge of a table so the air can circulate.
7. How do you clean your foundation sponges?
In warm water with a mild shampoo. You will often not get the staining out but it will be clean and sanitised.
8. Where do you stand on women sharing make-up brushes? Okay or bad idea?
Don’t do it! It spreads bacteria and can cause eye infections. It’s fine to share if the brushes have been cleaned inbetween using them.
MORE: BEST FOUNDATION FOR DRY SKIN
Sam and Nic’s Real Techniques Bold Metals brush collection is available from Boots now, from £10, with each brush specially engineered to help your make-up go on flawlessly. How’s that for a helping hand?
MORE: OUR FAVOURITE MAKEUP BRUSHES
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We use them daily; dipping them into different creams and powders, buffing products into our skin, and carting them around in various beauty bags, but a new study has indicated that many of us are slacking when it comes to taking care of our brushes.
According to research by Cosmetify, 26 per cent of women claim to have never cleaned their make-up brushes, and 68 per cent of us have shared our tools with others.
Keeping your brushes clean is vital, not just for ensuring your make-up looks flawlessly applied, but for the health of your skin too. Dirty brushes can harbour bacteria within their bristles, leading to breakouts, congestion and irritation.
Here, we reveal the experts’ top tips for keeping brushes as hygienic as possible, from how often you should be cleaning them, to the best brush cleansers for the job.
We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article
How often should you clean your make-up brushes?
“For work, I wash my brushes every time I use them because I’m using them on different people, but if you’re using the same brush with the same product, once a fortnight will be sufficient,” says Nars’ creative global artistry director Jane Richardson.
As Bobbi Brown PRO artist Aimee Morrison adds, there is a difference between quickly cleaning and thoroughly washing your brushes. “For best hygiene, make-up brushes should be cleaned once a week with a brush-cleansing spray, and washed once a month.” For brushes that are being swept over multiple shades, she recommends cleaning them after each use to keep your palettes pristine.
How should you clean your make-up brushes?
- For a quick fix, MAC senior artist Debbie Finnegan advises drizzling a liquid brush cleaner onto some dry tissue and gently ‘painting’ the brush back and forth over the top.
- The purpose of a deep clean is to remove clogged liquids and powders from deep within the bristles. Massage your chosen liquid cleanser through your brush, before running under lukewarm water and rinsing well. Be careful not to harshly scrub the bristles, as this may lead to excess shedding.
- Once clean, gently reshape the brush using your hands or a towel.
- To dry your brushes, leave them flat on the edge of a surface, with the tip extending over the edge to ensure they dry into the correct shape. “This will allow the air to circulate and gradually dry the brushes,” says Finnegan. “I like to do this in the evening and by morning they are dry and ready to go!”
- A backstage tip: steer clear of washing-up liquid when cleaning make-up brushes. “The harsh cleaning agents inside will destroy the bonds in your bristles,” warns Finnegan. “What’s more, don’t be tempted to use any kind of heat (this includes placing them by a radiator) to help your brushes dry quicker.”
The best make-up brush cleaners
Brush Cleanser MAC selfridges.com £12.50 Organic Tea Tree Castile Liquid Soap Dr Bronner’s feelunique.com £8.19 Clinique Makeup Brush Cleanser Clinique feelunique.com £14.00 Conditioning Brush Cleanser Bobbi Brown lookfantastic.com £12.00 Pure Solid Cleanser Beautyblender cultbeauty.co.uk £15.00 BARE MINERALS Quick Change brush spray BARE MINERALS selfridges.com £10.00 Make Up Brush Cleaner and Dryer StylPro lookfantastic.com £39.99 Brush Cleaner Laura Mercier selfridges.com £14.50
Ready to come clean? It’s time to wash your beauty tools. Here’s how often you really need to clean your makeup brushes.
Fess up, ladies! How often do you really wash your makeup brushes? Did you know that dirty brushes could lead to everything from acne to fungal infections? All that babying that you do to your skin can be totally undone with a quick swipe of a brush.
If you want to keep your skin looking flawless, you have to keep your makeup brushes clean and bacteria-free. Not only will you be doing your skin a favour, but you’ll also make your brushes last longer.
How Often to Clean Makeup Brushes
Generally speaking, you’ll want to clean your brushes at least once a month. Stretching out the time any further puts you at risk of nasty side effects. Fortunately, it only takes you a few minutes to wash your brushes, and then you’ll be good to go for another month.
When it comes to foundation and blush brushes, once a month is an easy standard. In the case of brushes used around your eyes for shadow and liner, you’ll probably want to clean them more often.
The more often you change makeup colours, the more often you’ll need to clean your brushes. Putting off cleaning leaves all of your favourite shades looking muddied. Ideally, to keep cosmetics colours looking fresh, you’ll want to clean your brushes after every use.
PRO TIP: Never, ever share your makeup brushes. Spreading your own oil and germs is bad enough. Wiping someone else’s gunk all over your face is downright dangerous.
How to Clean Your Brushes
Ready to do your monthly clean-up? It’s time to run your brushes a bath. All you need is a bowl of warm water, a clean white towel, and some brush cleaner. It’s important to use a cleanser designed for your brush. Natural brushes in particular are sensitive, so treat them with care to avoid ruining them.
For a great, versatile cleaner, we love Jane Iredale Botanical Brush Cleaner. It’ll clean your brush in a flash, and the natural formula is perfect for both real-hair and synthetic brushes.
- Run your brush under water to remove loose particles of dust and makeup.
- Next, squeeze about a pea-size amount of brush cleanser into your bowl of warm water. Follow the instructions on your cleanser bottle, since they vary a bit with each formula.
- Now that your bowl is ready, gently swirl the brush around in circles over the bottom of the bowl. Don’t press too hard. Keep swirling until your brush looks clean.
- Next, grab your towel and swirl your brush over it to be sure there’s no makeup residue left. If your brush is still dirty, you’ll see streaks of colour on the towel.
- When your brush leaves no residue, give it a quick rinse under the tap.
- After your brush is clean and rinsed, gently squeeze it with the towel to remove excess water.
- Lay the brush flat overnight to dry.
Don’t have all night? Estée Lauder Makeup Brush Cleanser is perfect for an instant clean. Just spray and wipe, and you’re ready to go.
Hate cleaning your brushes? Get a case! Tossing your makeup brushes into a jumble in a bag or drawer gets them dirty again in no time. For a versatile storage pick, we love Sigma Brush Case.
Makeup brushes are part of the daily makeup routine for most women. Without them, applying makeup is challenging and causes makeup to be spread unevenly. A great makeup brush gives you a soft, even finish that helps your skin glow.
Of course, your makeup brushes touch your face day after day, so when they’re full of gunk it’s downright gross. But good news: With a good makeup brush cleaning routine, you can keep them squeaky clean.
Here are some tips for cleaning your makeup brushes and ensuring you’re following a cleaning schedule that keeps them free of bacteria and other unwanted makeup residues.
Shop DYT makeup brushes
Why Do Makeup Brushes Get So Dirty?
Makeup brushes get dirty because makeup comes into contact with your skin, and no matter how rigorous you are about keeping your skin clean, it contains bacteria. The deep spaces within the brush’s bristles become clogged with these bacteria and other residues.
In fact, this is true for any makeup tool you use, including brushes, sponges, and other applicators. They’re porous, which allows makeup to cling to them for application. But over time, makeup, oil, and dirt build-up on their surfaces and must be removed.
How Often Should You Clean Your Makeup Brushes?
If you’re like most women, you put off cleaning your brushes for as long as possible. It’s simply not everyone’s favorite task, like doing laundry, washing the dishes, or cleaning the windows.
But brush cleaning is absolutely essential because brushes touch your skin and can transmit unwanted substances to your face: old makeup, oily buildup, dust, and dirt. Who wants that on their skin?
Plus, the grimy residue can cause breakouts. With continued exposure to dirty brushes, your skin can become irritated, develop a rash, create pimples and blisters, and even trigger an allergic reaction.
Dirty brushes also deteriorate faster than clean ones due to the oils and substances on their bristles. If you keep your brushes clean, you’ll get much more life out of them and need to replace them less frequently.
So what’s the ideal timeframe for cleaning brushes? A rule of thumb is to clean them every 3 months at the absolute minimum. If you don’t wear makeup every day and don’t use your brushes very much, you can go for 6 weeks between cleanings.
Beware that too much cleaning can actually cause damage to your brushes. This is why it’s a bad idea to store them in sanitizer or clean them every day. The bristles and glue will break down quickly when brushes are cleaned too frequently or too harshly.
4 Steps to Keeping Your Makeup Brushes Clean
The best way to keep your brushes in tip-top shape is to clean them on a regular schedule using habits recommended by makeup artists. Here’s how to do it, in step-by-step.
Step 1: Cleansing
There are a million types of brush cleaners, but we’ll let you in on a little secret: a gentle soap or mild baby shampoo will work just fine instead of a brush cleaner. Many people swear by dish soap because it’s designed to wipe out grease that’s pretty similar to the oils on your face.
To cleanse the brushes, add lukewarm water to your soap or shampoo and swish it around a little to blend. Run the brushes through the liquid gently, releasing any buildup with the soft motion of the brush moving through water. If you see stuck-on debris, remove it carefully with your fingers.
The same technique can be applied to makeup sponges and other tools you use for makeup, including both natural and synthetic brushes. The key is to remove unwanted buildup gently without ruining the surface of the tool.
DO: Pour a bit of soap into your hand, a plate, or a cleansing mat, then lightly swirl the wet brush around and around, rinsing and dipping the bristles until they are free of debris.
DON’T: Soak the handles and allow the brushes to sit in the cleansing liquid. If water runs into the base and stays there, it will warp the wood and loosen the glue that keeps your brush secure.
Step 2: Conditioning
Did you know you should condition your brushes after cleaning them? That’s right – the conditioning step brings them back to their original luster and gets them ready for a fresh use next time.
Just like your hair, a makeup brush needs a conditioner step. It preserves the bristles and prevents them from breaking down over time. You’ll experience less bristle breakage and enjoy a softer, gentler feeling from the brushes if you take time to condition them.
Soak them in a mixture of olive oil and the same soap you used to wash them. It should only be a brief soaking of a few minutes. Then rinse them thoroughly and inspect them for any leftover oil or other residues.
Step 3: Reshaping
Okay, your brushes are now clean and conditioned. Now it’s time to reshape them back into their original form.This step is important because it brings your brushes back to like-new condition. If you don’t reshape them after washing, they’ll eventually begin to fan out and lose their compact quality. When this occurs, makeup flings off the sides of the brush and goes to waste – not to mention, it interferes with your ability to get a perfect makeup finish.
To shape your brushes, use a clean paper towel to gently form them back into their original shape. This step brings the added benefit of removing moisture from the bristles, which makes the brush dry faster as it retains the right shape.
Step 4: Drying
A wet brush is a breeding ground for bacteria. Water that sits on your brush base and wet bristles can seep into the glue and cause it to fail. So make sure you take time for the drying step because it’s quite important.
The simplest method of drying brushes is to place a towel on top of a table and place the bristles of the brushes over the edge to air dry. Follow these tips to ensure you’re giving your brushes the best dry time possible:
DO: Use a drying rack or try the folded towel method of drying.
DON’T: Stick all of your brushes into a cup and call it a day. This isn’t adequate to prevent germs and preserve their shape.
DO: Allow 6 hours to overnight for the brushes to dry completely.
DON’T: Rush it and put your brushes into a makeup bag or carrying case. Wet brushes can develop mold and bacterial growth.
You’ll know your brushes are completely dry and ready for their next use when they feel totally moisture free and smooth. They may even look slightly fluffy from their cleaning, conditioning and drying routine.
Look for Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Makeup Brushes
Wondering whether it’s time to invest in some new brushes? Hint: If you’re wondering about them, it’s probably time. Worn brushes don’t look good, and they don’t feel good either.
Here are my favorite brushes if you are ready to invest in a new set!
A brush should be replaced anytime it begins to show signs of discoloration or odor. If the bristles are shedding or kinked, this is a big red flag that your brushes are breaking down.
Another warning sign is that the bristles are hard to reshape after cleaning. If they fan out, fall to the side, or end up looking bushier and overly fluffy, the bristles are too far gone to provide the best makeup application.
Now that you have clean and ready makeup brushes, it is time to apply product! Put those brushes to good use with Quick Makeup Tips That Give Your Whole Look A “Wow” Factor.
The only task more daunting than washing your face at the end of the day to take off your makeup is cleaning your makeup brushes. It’s easy to go weeks/months/actual decades without washing them because, honestly, who has the time or patience? But here’s the thing: Not only can unwashed brushes harbor bacteria, but the constant buildup can also wear on the bristles and ruin them over time. Breakouts and destroyed brushes? Hi, no thanks. But shoving all your brushes into a cup full of water and calling it a day, unfortunately, is not gonna cut it. So grab your makeup bag and follow the below advice on how to clean makeup brushes properly. I promise it won’t be that bad—or at least not as bad as taking off your makeup.
Can dirty makeup brushes cause pimples?
Not only can dirty makeup brushes caked with product buildup make the application process challenging (blending is hard when your fluffy brush is more like a clumpy brush), they’re also notorious for collecting bacteria that can cause acne breakouts or worse. In other words, makeup and skin experts aren’t nagging you to wash your brushes for their own health—they’re doing it for yours.
How often should I wash makeup brushes?
How frequently you need to give your brush bristles a good scrub-down depends on how often you use your brushes and what you use them for. Some experts suggest cleaning them a couple times a month, while the American Academy of Dermatology recommends washing them every seven to 10 days—either way, it’s likely way more often than you’re used to doing it. But don’t freak out—with a combination of easy tricks and genius products, even the laziest of lazies can wash their tools with ease.
What should you clean makeup brushes with?
The first step in washing your brushes is choosing a cleanser that won’t destroy them (aka no harsh detergents). Many brands sell products specifically designed for makeup brushes, but you can also use a mild soap, baby shampoo, or a gentle face cleanser (Mario Dedivanovic loves using a face wash, specifically the Purity Made Simple Cleanser by Philosophy).
4 Must-Try Makeup Brush Cleansers
Heavy Duty Cleanser Professional Makeup Brush Cleaner Cinema Secrets amazon.com $39.00 Baby Shampoo Baby Tear-Free Shampoo Johnson’s amazon.com $17.43 Gentle Soap Baby Unscented Pure-Castile Liquid Soap Dr. Bronner’s ulta.com $11.29 Face Cleanser Purity Made Simple Cleanser Philosophy sephora.com $36.00
But wait! Soap isn’t the only thing you need. You’ll also need to round up a few supplies to help with the scrubbing and drying steps of the cleaning process. While your hand would work just fine, you’ll also find a cleansing mat or another textured surface helpful in removing stubborn makeup faster. The goal when drying your brushes is to prevent water from seeping into the glue at the base and loosening the bristles. When setting them out to dry, keep your brushes tilted with the bristles pointed downward (a drying rack can help with this) instead of throwing them bristles up in a cup to dry.
Tools That’ll Make Cleaning Brushes A Lot Easier
Sponge Cleaner Blendercleanser Solid Beautyblender amazon.com $16.00 Drying Rack Dry’n Shape Tower Face & Eyes Sigma Beauty dermstore.com $59.00 Cleansing Mat Silicone Brush Cleaner J.Cat Beauty ulta.com $4.99 Color Switcher Makeup Brush Cleaner 2-in-1 Color Removal Sponge TecUnite amazon.com $11.99
How do makeup artists clean their brushes?
Here’s what you don’t want to do: Fill up the sink and let the brushes soak, handles and all. Not only will the water warp the wood over time, but it’ll also seep into the base of the bristles and loosen the glue. You know how annoying it is when you’ve just perfected your foundation application, only to find a loose bristle embedded in your base makeup? If you soak your brushes, you’ll end up with a dozen loose bristles on your cheek (my personal nightmare).
Makeup artists are able to maintain the integrity of their makeup brushes for years and years by cleaning their tools regularly but also very carefully. As demonstrated by a makeup artist in this YouTube video, pour a little bit of the soap onto either hand, a cleansing mat, or another surface, then lightly swirl the wet brush into the cleanser, rinsing and re-dipping until the bristles are totally clear.
What home remedy can I use to clean my makeup brushes?
Cleaning your makeup brushes, while time-consuming and tedious, is pretty easy to DIY, even for us non-professional makeup artists. If you don’t have a specially formulated brush cleanser, try beauty YouTuber Nicole Guerrero’s at-home recipe. Mix a little bit of olive oil with soap to condition your brushes and keep them from drying out or feeling straw-like. Just make sure to thoroughly rinse out the oil and soap before moving on to the next step.
If you find that your makeup is really caked on or stuck in the hard-to-reach center of the brush, don’t scrub at it; you’ll ruin the shape of the brush. Instead, try this YouTuber’s trick of using a comb to brush through the hairs for a deeper clean.
If you’ve noticed that all the wetting, scrubbing, and squeezing has altered the shape of your bristles, you’ll need to reshape them before setting them out to dry. Use the palm of your hand and your fingers to shape the wet brush hairs back to their original form, or try this clever little trick: Slide the ends through an inexpensive mesh protector, which allows for airflow while still preventing the bristles from drying all frayed, flared, and out of whack.
If you don’t have a drying rack, fold one edge of your towel a few times to create a slight slant, then lay the brushes flat on the towel with the handles up on top of the folded edge so that the water runs out and down, instead of in and up toward the glue. Give your brushes a few hours to dry, or let them sit overnight.
Once they’re completely dry, run the bristles over your hand to gently loosen the shape until your brushes look brand-spankin’ new. See? I told you it wouldn’t be so bad.
Replace Unsalvageable Brushes With One of These
The Eye Set The Eye Master Collection Morphe X Jaclyn Hill ulta.com $39.00 The Face Set Luxe Face Brush Set Sephora Collection sephora.com $54.00 The Travel Set Essentials Travel Size Brush Set Bobbi Brown nordstrom.com $115.00 The Pro Set Studio Pro Brush Set BH Cosmetics bhcosmetics.com $29.00 Related Story Brooke Shunatona Brooke Shunatona is a contributing writer for Cosmopolitan.com.
How Often Should You Wash Your Makeup Brushes To Avoid Breakouts?
For the most part, you wash everything after you use it — socks, dishes, and yourself after a long day — because using it once is enough, which is why everyone’s answer to the question, “How often should you wash your makeup brushes?” is likely wrong. Not only are you (probably) using dirty makeup brushes all of the time, but you’re putting all of that dirtiness onto your face.
So when asked about the best way to clean makeup brushes, Elle’s Senior Beauty & Fitness editor, Julie Schott actually made it clear that everyone needs to do better. And in order for that to happen, she provided three options for avoiding the gunk. I’m going to be honest with you, the first two are not realistic. Schott recommends that you either disinfect/wash your brushes daily, get new brushes and blenders daily, or give up on using them all together. As of now, I’m leaning toward the last option. What you should really be getting out of her list is how bad it is for your skin to use dirty brushes.
And according to her favorite dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, Schott is right. “Brushes that you use to apply powders touch your skin and can build up oil and bacteria between the bristles,” Zeichner said. “As a general rule, if you use them daily, they should be cleaned more often. Also, brushes should be cleaned before they are used on someone else.” And getting creative about how you clean them is always a plus.
But what if you’re a regular person with too many things to do, and never enough time to do them all, especially not washing your brushes every single day? Well, there are someshortcuts. Makeup artist Allie Clark told BuzzFeed that while she quickly spritzes a brush cleaner on her personal tools every day, you only really need to give them a full-on baby shampoo bath every two weeks. OK, that seems more reasonable, right?
Steffen Kugler/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Bobbi Brown, another makeup artist, is even more flexible with her cleaning guidelines: She told ELLE that only concealer and foundation brushes need to be washed weekly, while brushes used around the eyes can be cleaned bi-monthly. Any other brush, Brown said, only needs a washing once a month. Phew.
So no need to freak out if you’re running too late to clean your brush some random Thursday, but if you’re starting to notice more breakouts, it’s probably time to give them a good scrub.
Last week, my friend admitted to me that she had never once cleaned her makeup brushes. I blacked out and when I woke up, I asked her to clarify. She shrugged and said, “I don’t know—it just doesn’t seem like it matters.” Uh, holy hell, of course it matters, I told her. Think of all the skin oils (yes, even if your skin is clean!) that you’re transferring from your face to your brush, then from your brush to your powders, then back to your face again. Think of the clogged pores, the irritation, the breakouts, the horror!
She’s been shamed by a billion articles telling her to wash her brushes on the daily, she has been shamed by her friends (cough, me), and she has been shamed by the general knowledge that germs are bad. But still, she hasn’t change. And, apparently, she’s not alone in her lax brush washings.
MORE: The Weird Upside of Acne: Turns Out You’ll Age Better
On a Reddit thread posted to r/MakeupAddiction this week, a user asked the beauty-obsessed community, “how often do you wash your makeup brushes?” I expected frenzied responses of “every minute of every day!” These are, after all, the most beauty-obsessed people on the internet. But instead, the most-popular answer: “Whenever I look at them and think, ‘huh,’ should probably clean them,” says user hardy_and_free, to my shock and horror. “I probably wash them once a week. Sometimes if life is too crazy, it’s every other week. I have a disinfectant spray that I use between each use just in case,” says another user.
Out of all of the responses, the general consensus was that people tend to wash their brushes once a week, or, at the very least, once every other week. Which is a better practice than my friend’s lifelong refusal, though it’s still not totally stellar, seeing as you’re still sweeping bacteria and dead skin over your face every morning. Still, not all of the responses hurt my little beauty-editor heart. “I wash my brushes after using them 1-2 times,” says one user, making me cry with happiness. “I have duplicates of all my favorite brushes, so while one set is drying, I use the other. … I’d rather replace a brush than have to deal with a skin infection/acne.” YES. This, a million times yes.
Obviously, don’t use this thread as a justification for not cleaning your tools, but at least you now know you’re not alone in your habits. Which I guess is what every rebel wants, right?
How Often Should You Wash Your Makeup Brushes?
Once or twice each day, you carefully cleanse your face. You frequently launder the clothes you use to wash your body. But when was the last time you gave any thought to your makeup brush, a crucial part of your beauty regimen that you use daily? Think about it: your brushes are gradually accumulating a grim collection of dead skin cells, bacteria, dried cosmetic particles, dust and dirt from the air. With that in mind, isn’t it time you learned exactly how, and how often, you should clean your make-up brushes?
First, let’s talk about frequency. If you are a professional makeup artist, you will need to thoroughly cleanse all of your brushes after each use. Failing to do so can spread bacteria between clients and can lead to nasty infections. If it’s just for your personal use, you can do a spot cleaning every day, with a more in-depth washing once per week. The exception to this rule is eyeliner brushes, which really do need to be cleaned after each use to maintain that crisp line you’re looking for. Also, every time you change blush colors, you will need to thoroughly cleanse the brush.
Just how do you go about cleaning your brushes? Choose a good brush cleanser which will thoroughly clean all of your natural and synthetic brushes, leaving them soft and smelling great. There are two different types of cleanings that you will want to perform: spot cleaning should happen after each use, while deep cleaning only needs to occur once or twice per week. To spot clean, simply dilute a small amount of brush-cleaning shampoo in water and put it in a spray bottle. Spritz it onto a paper towel and use it to gently clean the bristles of any brush you might use. Performing this quick procedure after each use helps to prolong the life of your brushes and minimizes the risk of break-outs.
As its name implies, deep cleaning is more involved and comprehensive. To accomplish it, you must first decide how you want to go about performing the cleaning process. Fortunately Sigma Beautyhas some amazing options you can use to make this easier, including a brush cleaning glove and brush cleaning mat.
The brush-cleaning glovegives you the ultimate hands-on approach to maintaining your brushes. With its various textures customized to clean each type of brush, you will get the effective and thorough results you want. For another take on brush cleaning, try Sigma’s brush-cleaning mat. This enables you to do your brush cleansing right in your sink, while still being able to use the mat’s various surfaces to get the dirt, build-up and particles out of all types of brushes.
After your brushes are nice and clean, you might think you’re done, but you’re not. You still need to make sure they have a way to dry thoroughly. To accomplish this, hang them upside down or over the edge of a table to make it possible for air to thoroughly circulate through all the bristles.
By taking these steps, you can guarantee that your make-up brushes will give you the optimal color every time in the most sanitary way possible. Whether you are a professional makeup artist or just a regular person who wants to make the most of your makeup brush investment, taking these steps will give your brushes the thorough cleaning they need while helping your face to be as beautiful and healthy as possible.