Your brushes are the backbone of your beauty kit. Every time your blush shimmers in the sun, a brush gets its angel wings. Flawless foundation application that has you looking more and more like Beyoncé everyday? Pay your respects to a brush (or beauty blender!). So, let’s talk keeping these sacred tools clean. Brush cleaning is an essential part of your beauty routine: It involves the removal of residual makeup, dirt, and oils. “Buildup of dirt and oils on your makeup brushes can cause acne breakouts and possibly rashes called dermatitis,” warns Cristina Monaco Certified Physician Assistant of Schweiger Dermatology Group in Smithtown, New York.
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We talked to Monaco and makeup artist Ashleigh B. Ciucci, to find out all the best tips and tricks for cleaning your makeup brushes.
You should be cleaning your brushes weekly
Remember the gross residual makeup, dirt, and oil we just talked about? That disappears after a good brush cleaning. If you’re a makeup artist or just someone who wears a significant amount of makeup, Monaco suggest a brush cleaning after each use.
For the average makeup user, Ciucci sets a clear standard. “Shampoo your brushes once a month and use a brush cleanser for weekly cleaning.”
A step-by-step brush cleaning method
Ciucci details a step-by-step routine for cleaning your brushes:
- Squeeze a dollop of gentle shampoo into a glass/mug and fill with warm water
- Swirl your brushes in the water and gently massage the bristles to further remove the gunk
- Rinse with clean water and carefully squeeze the water out
- Lay flat to dry
- For day-to-day cleaning, use a brush cleaner
- Pour a small amount of the blue liquid into a small cup and dip your brush to saturate
- Gingerly swirl the brush on a paper towel which will absorb the cleanser, taking the dirt with it
Cuicci’s favorite brush cleaner is Cinema Secrets. “This cleanser dries quickly, disinfects, and smells yummy,” according to Ciucci.
Cinema Secrets Makeup Brush, $39, sephora.com
Dawn soap is your friend
The most potent cleanser for your brushes is one that you might have around anyway—Monaco swears by Dawn dishwashing soap. “It literally removes everything and anything!” says Monaco. “In a makeup cleaner emergency I will fill a small cup with warm water and add a few drops of Dawn. Swish it around and voila!” It’s not that crazy considering dish soaps, like those made by Dawn, are engineered to remove tough oils—the exact byproduct you’re hoping to take out when you clean your brushes.
Dawn also works for makeup sponges. “Let it sit in the glass submerged for a few minutes,” explains Dawn. “Then rinse with warm water, dab on a paper towel, and repeat. Lastly, place it in the microwave for a few seconds (while watching OF COURSE!) to get rid of bacteria.”
Look for the signs it’s time to replace your brushes
As soon as you notice your brushes aren’t getting as squeaky clean as they once were, it might be time to replace them. “As a general rule, every three months you should be buying a few new brushes to replace the old ones,” says Monaco.
It’s also important to check for shedding. “As long as your brushes aren’t shedding, smell, or are severely discolored they can last a lifetime,” explains Ciucci. “ I have a MAC brush from 1994!”
Bonus: Here’s how to clean your beauty blenders and makeup sponges
Monaco recommends BeautyBlender’s Beautycleanser soap bar for properly cleaning your beauty blenders and makeup sponges. “BeautyBlenders tend to get dirty VERY fast,” Monaco cautions. Another great option is electronic brush cleaners. The electric brush cleaner does the work for you. Here’s two electric brush cleaning favorites.
1. BeautyBlender Beautycleanser, $16, sephora.com
2. Sigma Beauty Go Clean Duo, $24.50, sephora.com
3. Inkerscoop Makeup Brush Cleaner, $29.99, amazon.com