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How to Clean Makeup Brushes

If you’re like me, you’ve invested in quality makeup brushes.  Lousy brushes must be replaced more often, and they usually waste more product than higher quality brushes.  High end makeup with cheap brushes usually do not mix.  Though I find high-end brushes with cheap makeup mix fine!  Are you taking all the right steps to take care of your brushes?  Without proper maintenance, you may as well buy cheap brushes, because you will be replacing them often.

How often you clean your brushes is really up to you.  If I am using a cream or liquid product, I think for germs sake, I need to clean it after every use.  If you dip a dirty brush into a cream product, the germs you are placing into the product will be far greater than the germs placed into a powder product.  Sometimes, when I am running late, and when am I not, I do not always clean them right after use.  The longer you let the product soak into the brush, the harder it is to clean.  It can even stain depending on the product, so I clean it as soon as I can.  I do not thoroughly clean my brushes after every use on powder products, so I applaud your diligence if you do.

My brush cleaning technique varies.  I cannot say I clean my brushes weekly or bi-weekly, because I have gone more than two weeks without using a stitch of makeup on many occasions.  Most of the time I apply foundations, highlighters, tints, BB creams, concealers, and any other type of cream product that is poured or applied directly from the container with my fingers.  This is not only because I am too lazy to clean my brushes right away, but I find the most control in application this way.  That does not mean I do not have brushes and a Beauty Blender for those products, which I do use at times.

By rarely using makeup and using brushes for creams and liquids even less often, I do not have to clean as much.  There are some cream products where you have to physically scoop them out.  Those are items I prefer to use a brush for.  Sticking my hands in them no matter how clean they seem is not happening.  When it is time to clean cream products out of brushes, I make a little cleansing recipe that does the trick every time.  I put equal parts: 1. baby soap or baby shampoo, 2. adult hair conditioner or olive oil, 3. and non anti bacterial hand or dish soap in a bowl and mix them together.

I’ve read that some people use alcohol or antibacterial soap in their do it yourself makeup brush cleaners.  Those ingredients can damage your brushes, so I avoid them.  The harsh ingredients can make the bristles of your brushes coarse.  You can try to combat the coarseness by adding extra olive oil or conditioner to the mix if the added germ killing they bring is important to you.  Baby soap is a gentle cleanser, which is why I recommend it.  My problem is when I only use baby soap stains are not removed as easily.  Adding the dish or hand soap helps with that.

I sometimes add a little water to the mixture if I use conditioner in place of olive oil.  It helps thin it out a little thereby making it easier to swirl.  Take your brushes one by one and gently swirl them into the mixture.  Continue to swirl until you see the bristles covered in the cleanser and some of the product exit into the bowl.  Rather than using a separate bowl of water as some people recommend, run the brush under a fresh stream of water as you remove the soap from the bristles.  I know this wastes more water, but it also prevents the germs you’ve removed from the brush from depositing right back on.  This is the same reason I take showers instead of baths.

Clean the entire length of the bristles as close to the handle as possible.  A lot of people fall short of cleaning the bristles closest to the handle for fear of getting it wet.  That is where the bristles glue in, so if you get that area wet without effectively drying it, you run the risk of the glue loosening and the bristles may fall out.  The handles can also warp if they do not dry properly.  In really wet scenarios, the brush can even have mold or mildew in it if there is residual product for it to latch onto.  Moisture is not your brush’s friend.  If you do not clean the bristles closest to the handle, the germs can reinvest as they fall down the brush.

The most effective technique for drying the brush and the handle near the bristles, which is the most important part to dry is to hang the brush upside down.  That way, water drips down away from the brush and not into the handle.  If you have any of the dreaded dual ended brushes, clean one side at a time.  No side ever has liquid dripping directly into its corresponding handle that way.

When it comes to hanging your brushes upside down, I like the Benjabelle Brush Trees.  I used the code FLOWERS for 25% off.  It is still working.  The Sunflower Brush Tree, which retails for $39.95, cost me $29.96 with tax.  You get free shipping with a $25 purchase.  If you have less brushes than I do, there are smaller trees available.  This is the biggest tree, but you can purchase multiples under the discount code if you have more brushes.  A brush tree set, which includes this and a mini, retails for $49.95 if you purchase the set.

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One tree does the job for me, because I never use more than this amount of brushes in a single use.  If you wear makeup everyday and have a lot of brushes, you may want more than one tree.  While most brushes are completely dry less than 24 hours after you hang them, I like to leave them a bit longer.  This is where backup brushes come in handy.

Benjabelle 3 Benjabelle 2 Benjabelle

When it comes to powder products, I do not do a thorough cleaning after each use.  Instead, I gently wipe the brush on a dry paper towel.  Then, I spray a daily brush cleaner on a different dry paper towel.  I gently rub the brush along the wet paper towel.  If the tree has available spots, I place them inside.  If it does not, I lay them flat on a paper towel.  The bristles in this case are not wet enough, and the handle is not wet enough to stress about hanging them upside down. After I’ve cleaned them this way a few times or this way is not easily removing all the product, I clean them with the brushes that house the liquid products.  I used to wipe the brushes on a dry paper towel after I sprayed them, but that leaves debris in the brushes.  If you run water and use your fingers to work the daily cleaner in, that is slightly more effective than my technique.

If you do not have a brush tree, you can use chip clips or binder clips and attach them to a hanger positioning the bristles to the floor. The most important tip to preserve the brushes is to make sure any brush that has liquid near the part of the brush where the bristles meet the handle is hung bristles down to dry. View my main page for the guide map to the site and deeper deal exploration.

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I'm Kimberly. Shopping is always more fun when I've found the best deal available, so I am always on the hunt. My father instilled that in me, and I love that I carry a piece of him. Sometimes, my husband and sons (12 and 7) let me shop for them, too. They do not use as many beauty products as I do. We can all benefit from nice products, even though their routine ends with moisturizer. That is when I can convince my 12-year-old to apply it.

4 thoughts on “How to Clean Makeup Brushes Leave a comment

  1. i used to use a soap mixture similar to yours until i tried sephora’s solid brush cleanser ($14 and comes w/ a silicone scrubber pad) rinses out a lot faster and gets them much cleaner than dish soap. it got rid of some leftover stains on my brushes, too. it’s also travel friendly. those brush trees are really neat–it’s now going on my wishlist

  2. I’ve used the Solid Brush Cleaner from Beauty Blender and am not overly impressed. It does not take the stains out of my Beauty Blender unless I clean immediately after use. I’m one of those get ready at the last minute people, so I rarely clean right after I use it. There’s no time. When I remove my makeup at night, I also clean the brushes I used that day. If I applied it really early in the morning, the product has been sitting on the brush all day at that point. At some point, I will try Sephora’s version. Thanks for the tip.

  3. To prevent the nastiness that comes with dirty makeup brushes, we need to thoroughly clean our makeup brushes, sponges and other applicators at least once each week.

  4. I never put a specific timeline on cleaning, because there are some weeks I do not use my brushes at all. If I cleaned mine once a week, there is a good chance I would be cleaning completely clean brushes. Most days, I wear no makeup. There are days where I use a BB or CC cream, but I only use my fingers to apply those. Rather than a specific timeline, I deep clean brushes used to apply cream products after every use. The use can be a day after the last cleaning or a month later. For powders, I deep clean as needed. It is usually 3-4 uses on average, but it can be more or less. I gently clean powder products after every use, because I do not want to ever apply anything with a dirty brush.

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