A step-by-step guide to cleaning your makeup brushes

How to Clean Makeup Brushes: A Step by Step Guide - Gigi Hadid

It’s seriously simple and will save your skin from breakouts

Beauty Crew Contributing Editor / September 25 2018

We get it – you don’t really want to add another step to your beauty routine. But when that extra step could potentially save your skin from breakouts and ensure your makeup goes on flawless, surely cleanliness wins out over laziness? 

Yep, we’re talking about the mundane task of washing makeup brushes. Nobody really wants to do it, but like taxes, it’s just something that needs to be done (and pays off in the end). And honestly, it’s such a simple process that it’s about time you stopped skipping this essential step.

Not sure why (oh, you’re in for a real eye-opener), how often to clean makeup brushes or what to use to clean makeup brushes? We got you.

First, the why. It should come as no surprise that your brush bristles are a breeding ground for bacteria. Sorry, we’re not going to sugar coat it. Every time your brush touches your face, your skin’s natural oils, along with dirt and dead skin cells, will transfer onto the bristles. And stay there…if you’re not washing them off. Not good for the health of your skin. Then there’s the health of your makeup brushes. Since bristles are porous, they hold onto all that grime, which can deteriorate the brush if not removed, plus it doesn’t leave much room for your actual makeup to hold onto, hence why you’re getting such a patchy finish.

Ok, now how often to clean makeup brushes: Interestingly, certain brushes need to be washed more often than others. Take your foundation brush – if you’re a liquid foundation fan, you should be cleaning your brushes every couple of weeks. Liquid and cream formulas build up more quickly than powder formulas. Speaking of, your brushes that are used with powders (including eyeshadows and brow products) need to be treated to monthly cleans.

What do you need? The best way to clean makeup brushes is with baby shampoo and water. That’s it. Now, here’s how to wash makeup brushes the cheap and easy way.


Wet the brush

Wet your brush under lukewarm water. Take care to only wet the bristles – you don’t want water getting into the base as it can dissolve the glue that holds the bristles in place. And just wet, not soaking wet.


Lather the shampoo

Pop a dollop of baby shampoo into the palm of your hand and swirl around the brush to form a lather.


Rinse the bristles

Once you feel like you’ve dislodged the makeup build-up, rinse the bristles under lukewarm water. If the water still looks a bit dirty after you’ve rinsed out the shampoo, repeat step #2 again.


Leave to dry

Gently squeeze the bristles to remove excess water. Reshape the bristles with your hands, then use paper towel to dab the bristles dry. Lay the brush flat (not standing upright as water will pool into the base and degrade the glue) and leave to air dry. If the brush sits completely flat against the surface you’re drying it on, consider hanging it over the edge – you want good air circulations for a thorough dry.

EXPERT TIP: Celebrity makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic uses this same homemade DIY recipe of baby shampoo and water, only he also adds a few drops of tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is an antibacterial, so we think he’s on to something!

If all this sounds too laborious for you, then grab yourself a cleaning device like the StylPro Makeup Brush Cleaner and Dryer. This makeup brush cleaner really knows how to clean makeup brushes, all at the press of a button. It cleans and dries within mere minutes - here's everything you need to know about it.

If you're still trying to figure out which makeup brush to use in your kit, follow our advice on how to choose the right makeup brushes.

How often do you clean your makeup brushes? What cleaning technique and products do you use?

Main image credit: Getty

Chelsea is BEAUTYcrew’s Contributing Editor. She has a sweet spot for anything that claims to make skin glow and won’t leave the house without a slick of mascara. Chelsea has 10 years of experience as a beauty editor and her words can be found on BEAUTYcrew, Women’s Health, Daily Addict, The Joye and Primped.