The Ultimate Guide to Cleaning Your Makeup Brushes
It’s a given that makeup brushes should be handled with care and cleaned religiously since they make a lot of contact with your face. Below, we tell you exactly how often you should do it, and which are the best products to use for fully-sanitized, ready-to-use brushes:
Your brush cleaning schedule
If you thought that cleaning your brushes once a month or every other month is enough – well, unfortunately, you’d be wrong. Expert dermatologists agree that you should give your brushes a good soak at least once a week, minimum, especially the ones you use for foundation and concealer. This helps prevent the buildup of product, which can lead to bacteria making a home between those bristles, which can then trigger breakouts. For anything you use on your face regularly, cleaner is definitely always better.
Meanwhile, eye makeup brushes should be regularly cleaned at least twice a month. Clean brushes actually help you apply makeup easier: when product buildup occurs in the bristles, you may find that makeup goes on streaky or patchy, making it harder to blend in. Sponges should also be cleaned frequently. Regular makeup sponges that come in bulk should be single use only, while branded, microbial-resistant sponges like Beauty Blenders are meant for reuse and should be cleaned once a week, just like foundation brushes.
The best products to clean your brushes with
For makeup brushes, you only need water and a mild soap, as regular soap has a tendency to dry out bristles made with natural hair. You can also purchase a dedicated brush cleanser, like Shu Uemura’s Brush Cleaner. It’s made with macadamia oil and vitamin E, which cleanses and nourishes brush bristles, natural or synthetic. A brush egg or a similar tool can also be useful in getting some deep-seated product buildup out of your brushes. Otherwise, the palm of your hand and some effort can go a long way, too.
A basic brush-cleaning method
Cleaning makeup brushes and sponges is actually really easy. With some time and a little elbow grease, you’ll have them back good as new.
First, wet the bristles with lukewarm water. You can start rinsing out whatever residual makeup you can in this step. Try to avoid getting the part where the head meets the handle wet, as this can loosen the adhesive holding the bristles together.
Next, add a drop or a squirt of brush cleanser or your mild soap in the palm of your hand or directly onto the brush egg. Run each brush over the ridges or against your palm repeatedly until you get most of the makeup out. Rinse the brush and repeat with the others.
Finally, squeeze out any excess water from the bristles with a clean towel, then reshape the brush head. You can lay them out flat to dry or use a dedicated brush holder that suspends your brushes mid-air so that they don’t become misshapen.
For sponges, the same method applies. Allow the sponge to soak up water, then use a dedicated cleanser or a mild soap to get the makeup off the surface of the sponge. Some sponges need to be handled with care, as they are fragile and can disintegrate if you apply too much pressure. Squeeze out as much water as you can when you’re done and leave the sponge to dry somewhere cool and dry. Don’t keep a damp sponge in an enclosed case if you want to keep mold or mildew from it. Always read the labels on your reusable makeup sponges, too; they will recommend when it’s best to toss a sponge, and it’s always a good idea to follow those directions.
Learning to let go
All brushes have a maximum life span, and you’ll know it’s time to buy a new one when the bristles have become frayed or loose. Misshapen brushes are going to be hard to use even if they still have all their bristles, so you’re best off tossing those, too. Never fear, though! If you take care of them, good brushes should last you long enough that you can call them a worthy investment.