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How to Clean Makeup Brushes – My Top Tips + Tricks

Makeup Brushes

How often do you clean your makeup brushes? 


I feel like there are two kinds of girls — the ones that clean their makeup brushes regularly and… the rest of us. (We mean well, but it just never gets crossed off the never-ending to-do list). If it makes you feel better, I have been both. ?

Turns out, cleaning makeup brushes is critical for so many reasons! We spend sooo much time finding the right products and creating a personalized skincare routine for ourselves, only to follow it up by pressing dirty brushes on our skin? We clean everything else that touches our skin (sheets, pillowcases, phones), and makeup brushes need to be cleaned regularly too — whether you apply a lot of makeup daily or only occasionally! 

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, makeup brushes are breeding grounds for bacteria and can cause acne breakouts and rashes. ? They can even cause an infection, such as E. coli or a staph infection! ?Dirty brushes also clog pores and irritate the skin. In short, we’re simply sabotaging our beauty routine (and even our health) by not washing our makeup brushes regularly! Washing makeup brushes also helps keep them in good condition and allows your makeup to go on smoother! 

*Steps off soapbox*

You get it. Cleaning your makeup brushes is a priority. So now, let’s get into my favorite brushes and blenders, and how to clean them (quickly and easily)— step by step! 

thing you need to Clean Makeup Brushes

First, my favorite beauty blenders + brushes! 

I always get asked what makeup brushes I use, and you’ll be happy to know–my brand of choice will only set you back a few dollars! I’ve used EcoTools ever since I was in my early twenties. (**They aren’t sponsoring this post, FYI–they were a sponsor a long time ago but this is totally unsponsored! I just wanted to include a highlight on them because I love their products so much and I often get asked for makeup brush reccos!) 

They make brushes, blenders and more that are 100% cruelty-free and vegan. I love their beauty blender duo which have different surfaces to use on all areas of your face, depending on what you need! 

All of their products are made from recycled aluminum and plastic and the handles of their products are made of renewable bamboo! Oh, and they’re from THE DRUGSTORE. (Or Amazon.) SO affordable. What more could you want in a makeup brush? (They also make hair brushes and bath products!)

You can read more about their brushes and how to use ALLLLL (there are SO many!) of the different makeup brushes out there in my post here.

How often should you clean your makeup brushes?

Makeup artists say makeup brushes should be getting a deep clean every few weeks — and at least washed once a month. Face brushes (for foundation, concealer or powder) should really be cleaned once a week!

How often should you replace your makeup brushes?

This depends on the type of brush you have. Synthetic brushes (made from materials like nylon or polyester fibers) don’t retain as much makeup or clump up as much as natural hair brushes (made from animal hair). Which is great because–hey–THEY’RE WAY CHEAPER anyway! ?

Shedding bristles, discolored bristles and strange smells are all signs it’s time to get new brushes!

With proper care, quality brushes can last you years! Beauty blenders should be replaced every couple of months or so for best application.

How To Clean Makeup Brushes

How to Clean Makeup Brushes

Step 1: Dunk, but don’t soak! 

I have experimented with this a lot, and I think the easiest, most effective way to clean your makeup brushes is to fill a glass with warm water and some soap. Dunk the brush(es) into it, and swish and swirl them around a bit, using your fingers to massage the soap into the bristles.

TIP! You should only be wetting the middle to end of the bristles–you don’t want to wet the portion where it meets the handle, because this loosens the glue. 

Did you know there are cleansers specifically designed for cleaning makeup brushes? I noticed EcoTools had a makeup brush shampoo so I bought that to test out because I already loved their brushes (it works great!) but items you already have in your home work great too, such as a gentle dish soap, baby shampoo, or even your face cleanser works in a pinch. You can also use coconut oil!

cleaning makeup brush

STEP 2: Swirl 

Your brush should be nice and sudsy. If not, gently massage a bit to form a lather. Then, using a brush cleaning mat (I got mine on Amazon here!) gently swirl the brushes around so all the makeup gets out of the crevices. 

Don’t have a brush mat? That’s okay! Just massage the brush tip in the palm of your hand until you have a good lather and continue the process of dunking in the soapy water and rinsing until the water runs clear. (Again, you only want to wet the brush, not the part where the bristles meet the handle!) 

STEP 4: Rinse Clean

Rinse by pointing the bristles down, allowing warm water to hit the ends and not the brush head. Check to see if all of the makeup is removed by gently pulling the brush between your thumb and index finger.

Step 5: Dab and Shape

 Dab excess water on a paper towel and gently smooth and shape the brush head back into its original form.

Clean Makeup Brushes

Step 6: Lay to Dry

Lastly, lay the brushes on a paper towel, washcloth, or even better–I like to dry off the brush mat and lay them to dry on top of it. (The mat is great because it has grooves in it that trap water so the brushes aren’t laying on damp cloth).

Tip! You can also hang the bristles them over the counter, so they don’t dry funny from being on their side. This allows air to circulate fully around them! 

**Do not place them upright in a container — water will run down the brush, loosening the glue from the handle, undoing all of your hard work to avoid that!

If you’re in a pinch and can’t deep clean your brushes, you can spot clean. Use a makeup brush cleaning cloth to remove surface makeup, oils and impurities. This is great if you’re changing the color of your makeup (like eyeshadow) or traveling!

How To Clean Your Beauty Blender

Because beauty blenders are used for face makeup, they should always be clean to avoid breakouts! I admit I’m not as great at cleaning my other brushes, but I am very diligent with cleaning my beauty blender. Luckily, the process is simple and very quick! Because I wet my blender before each application anyway, I usually just give it a quick clean each time–because it only takes a few extra seconds!

How to Clean Makeup Brushes

STEP 1: Submerge

Just as above, fill a glass with some soap and warm water. (See above!) I love the Ecotools brush shampoo for blenders as well! 

STEP 2: Dunk and Squeeze 

Dunk your blender into the glass and squeeze it a few times to make sure the soapy water is fully absorbed and you’ve created a lather.  

STEP 3: Rinse and Squeeze

Rinse the blender under warm water, squeezing and remove suds and makeup until the the water runs clear. You may need to do another round of dunking and rinsing if your brush hasn’t been cleaned in a while! 

STEP 4: Lay Flat

After squeezing out excess water with a towel, lay the blender flat on a towel to dry. However, like I said, I always wet my blender before I use it to apply foundation (this helps achieve a natural finish and also prevents it from soaking up/waisting all your makeup!) so your blender is ready to use immediately after washing! 

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How often do you clean your makeup brushes? Did this inspire you to incorporate makeup brush cleaning into your weekly or monthly routine?