How To Wash Your Makeup Brushes

How To Wash Your Makeup Brushes

makeup brushesI’ve been a bad, bad girl … I have not cleaned my makeup brushes in a very long time. Well ever really. So it’s no wonder why my skin has been a little temperamental lately now that I’m starting to wear more makeup again!

A dirty makeup brush can mean more acne because every time you use it you’re potentially picking up toxins, dead skin cells, oils and bacteria that are sitting on your skin, so next time you use it you’re putting all of that yucky stuff right back on again. Especially if you’ve been using your brush when you’ve got active acne. Anything you touch your face with or apply to your face should be clean, clean clean, so keeping your makeup brush toxin-free is essential.

Washing your brushes will also extend the life of the brush. Which makes sense if you think about it. Anything you look after, take care of and regularly wash is naturally just going to last longer. So if you’re like me and made a big investment when you purchased your top quality brush, then you want to make sure you get as much use out of it as you can.

And this goes for all sponges and tools that you use to apply your makeup. Everything needs to be regularly cleaned!

How to wash your makeup brush

I like everything the natural way so natural methods for cleaning my brush are the best for me. But there are a couple of options, so choose the one that fits best with you.

1. The vinegar and water method

This is natural, cheap and easy because you’ve probably already got some vinegar lying around at home. Vinegar is also a natural disinfectant so while you are cleaning, you’re disinfecting too!

Use twice as much cold or luke-water as vinegar. Simply mix in a bucket or bowl and dip your brushes in, give a bit of a scrub, then rinse off with running water.

You can also use Tea Tree Oil instead of vinegar.

2. The shampoo method

Run your brushes under cold or luke-warm water, then apply a tiny amount of shampoo. Give the bristles a scrub then rinse thoroughly with running water until there are no traces of soap left and the water runs clear. Repeat until no makeup at all comes out of the brush or into the water when you lather it up.

I use a natural shampoo so this is my preferred method (and yes, I did go and clean my brushes half way though writing this article!!). I also feel as though the shampoo is getting off a lot more of the makeup gunk than the vinegar method would. Although I might start dipping my brushes into a little vinegar or Tea Tree Oil and water after they’ve had the shampoo scrub because I like the idea of the disinfecting action of the vinegar.

How to dry your brushes

makeup brushesYou’ll need to first get the excess water out of the brush by gently squeezing the bristles from base to tip. Then leave the brushes to air dry on a towel.

Make sure you always leave your brushes to lie flat while drying, or even better – hang them up with the bristles facing the ground. If you stand them up to dry with the bristles facing the ceiling, then water will run down to the base which can mess with the glue that fastens the bristles into place. So it’s best if you lie your brushes flat on a towel or air dry.

Washing your brushes at night just before you go to bed is a great idea because while they’re drying you won’t be able to use them!

In case of emergencies you may want to keep a spare brush around (hey, a cheap brush is okay as a spare). And whatever you do, never ever use a hair dryer to dry your brushes because the excessive heat can damage the glue and bristles.

Also don’t boil your brushes, microwave them, use conditioner to clean them or pull and scrub at the bristles too much. I guess just be gentle and use your common sense :)

How often should you wash your brushes?

Apparently weekly is the best but fortnightly is okay too if you forget. After seeing what came out of my brush when I washed it I’m definitely going to get into the habit of washing mine once a week. Regular brush washing will also be great for my skin’s health, and it will make my beautiful brush last a lot longer.

12 comments… add one

  • I wash my brushes with bleach and fabric sofener… I KNOW it sounds crazy! IT ACTUALLY WORKS THOUGH. TRUST.

  • Thanks so much for the tip. I’m actually kind of new with brushes. Thank god I searched up tips and such. Thank you, Fran.

  • Alex

    Thank you SO much Fran!
    I DO NOT wash my brushes often enough and ive been getting these little bumps on my cheeks (Those bumps you get after getting a small mosquito bite kinda thing) and now i know why! This is so helpful, thank you again!


  • Ida

    This may be a silly question, but is it bad to clean make-up brushes too much? I clean my concealer brush every night before bed, as if I don’t, the brush does not apply the make-up very well. The brush seems clogged. Any opinions?

  • K

    haha i blow dried mine :S Ruined the bristles – made them really rough on my skin. Luckily my brush doesn’t cost too much (i get it in my everyday minerals kit – now i think about it its probably also beneficial for me to get a new brush every 6 months or so, seeing a they are inexpensive)

  • elena

    Thanks for the tip!
    I usually wash mine with water and soap-not the best idea-. I always use sponges-one sponge for two days.
    I use one side and next day the other to not get my skin dirty. I usually wash them all after one week, but lately I’ve been slacking off, thanks for this info you gave to us on how it can irritate our skin is making me wash them tonight!

  • Hi Fran,

    Great post on how to wash your makeup brushes. I live in Florida so washing my makeup brushes is very important because of the humidity and the heat on the skin.

    I had no idea about using vinegar and will try that as well. Thanks for sharing these important makeup brush washing tips. I do appreciate it ;-)

  • Kitty

    I wash my taklon foundation and concealer brushes every day with a tea tree wash – I use Vani-t liquid mineral foundation or Musq compact creme minerals. The brushes are fine to use straight away due to the nature of the brushes and foundations…

    But I was my blush brushes once a week because if I don’t I start getting little pimples on my cheeks. I use a mineral powder blush…

    My other brushes: eyeshadow, liner brushes, etc, get washed about every 2-3 weeks – eyeshadows are much easier to apply with clean brushes!

  • Ana- My brushes are natural ..I lay them out in the sun to dry yesterday and it only took a couple of hours.

  • Thanks for the info. I like the vinegar idea. I haven’t washed my brushes in a long time. Also thanks for the tip of adding baking soda to any facial cleanser. I think it made a big difference in my skin.
    Love your blog.

  • Ana

    I wash my brushes regularly w/ natural shampoo too! Mine are all synthetic – I find they are much softer than natural hair brushes.

    One problem I had was getting the brushes to dry – mine are very dense and sometimes it would take over 2 days to dry! But I’ve found that squeezing the water out of them with a MICROFIBER cloth really absorbs most of the water, to the point where I can use it right then if I want to! :)

  • Mia

    Hey thanks for the tips Fran.

    I use an actual brush shampoo on my brushes, which seems to work nicely.

    Also I have seen people use this product from MAC where they spray it on there brushes before each use I think, or clean them every night with the spray. Not sure how that works though.

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