Makeup 101: How to clean your brushes!

This is probably a very long awaited post for many of my friends, as they are always asking me “how do you clean your makeup brushes?”.

Most people I know never clean their makeup brushes! At all! Like just take a moment to think about all of the bacteria crawling about on that foundation brush saturated with product! Or actually, don’t, because that’s pretty gross.

What do people do when they have black eyeshadow on their brushes? Just buy new ones?! I just don’t get it. All makeup brushes should come with a guide on how to clean them!

Not only that, but it can cause acne, irritated skin, bacterial infections and also hinder your makeup application process and ruin the bristles of your brush!

People are recommended to clean their makeup brushes at least once a week. Most people I know don’t have time for that shiz, so I would recommend making a priority to clean them at least once a month.

There are three options on how to clean your makeup brushes.

  • Baby Shampoo and water
  • Brush Cleaner
  • 70% Alcohol

The reason I put 70% alcohol is because it does not dry as quickly as 99% which means that more of the surface area of bacteria can be eliminated. What that basically means is that 99% alcohol does nothing for your brushes and the bacteria still remains on it, whereas 70% alcohol gives you a chance to wipe most of them out. That’s the simple way of explaining it at least.

What you will need:

  • 2 x Designated makeup towel
  • Bowl
  • Makeup brushes (obviously)

Here is a picture of the setup for washing brushes with baby shampoo

70% Alcohol

Alcohol should only be used for a “quick clean”, such as if you want to use the same eyeshadow brush with a different coloured eyeshadow, but you need to get the remaining eyeshadow off of the brush to use it. Also for makeup artists, we will use alcohol for our brushes in between clients so that the brushes aren’t contaminated or full of the germs of the previous client, because as everyone knows, alcohol sterilises and it is a quick, easy and efficient method to ensure the brushes are clean and dry for our next client/model. We will then clean our brushes properly the same night, using the most sanitary method of brush cleaning to get any remnants of bacteria and product off of the brushes.

The reason you do not use alcohol all of the time is because bacteria tends to just build up and up before the brushes just get clogged with product from lack of proper method of cleaning. The second reason is that alcohol is very harsh on the bristles of the brush, both animal and synthetic, so if it is used too much, your brushes will end up harsh and dry.

You can clean your brushes two ways with alcohol.
Either spray on the alcohol and wipe off the excess product.
Put alcohol in a small bowl, dip in your brushes and wipe off the excess on the towel.

Brush Cleaner

Because makeup is becoming a very popular thing now, you can get brush cleaner from a lot of different stores for a reasonable price. Usually you could only find it in specialist stores or from a makeup brand themselves. Brush cleaner is basically just a shampoo for brushes, which is why you can also use baby shampoo as a method for cleaning your brushes (which we will get into later).

To clean your brushes, simply pour some of the brush cleaner into a medium sized bowl, saturate your brush in the liquid and then wipe the product off onto the clean towel. Sometimes, depending on how dirty your brushes are, you may need to repeat this a couple of times. Depending on how many brushes you have and how dirty they are, you may need to change the liquid.

You then leave your brushes on another towel to dry. Drying brushes can take up to 24 hours depending on how big they are, so ensure to put the towel in a spot that will not be disturbed.

Baby Shampoo & Water

This method is my most preferred, as it is cheap and does the job! You can literally get baby shampoo for 59p out of your local supermarket, and the bottle can last you ages compared to makeup brush cleaner which is £10 when they do the exact same thing! When you have over 100 brushes to clean and clean them often, it becomes a lot more cost efficient. The choice is completely upto you what method to use!

I use two bowls for this method. A big and a small bowl.
I boil water, pour it into the big bowl and wait for it to cool. This helps to eliminate any germs from the water and also sterilises the brushes!
I then squeeze some baby shampoo into a small bowl.

I dip my brush into the baby shampoo and then dip it into the water and swirl it around a little. Do not put anything more than the bristles into water, as the water can loosen the glue that keeps them altogether over time which will make your brush fall apart, and you don’t want that to happen! I then wipe my brush onto the towel and repeat this process until there is no more product seen on the brush.
I then leave my brushes to dry and viola! Brushes cleaned!

A before and after example of cleaning your brushes! As you can see, there’s even foundation embedded deep into the brush and it is important to get all of the gunk out which is why it makes it easier if you clean your brushes every so often!

Brush Cleaning Tools

You can actually get tools such as a silicone brush cleaning glove which helps to remove excess product from the brushes quicker and more efficiently. This also helps to get right into the middle of the brushes where there may be excess product hiding and ensure less wiping on the towel!

A brush cleaning glove by sigma which as you can see has many different patterns for different shapes of brushes

There is another product which looks like a mini net. What it does is it slides up the handle of the brush and keeps the bristles together to help keep the bristles in their original shape.

As you can see, these nets keep the bristles in place to hold the shape of the brush once it’s dried

Well that is all I have to tell you about cleaning brushes. Simple, huh!?

I hope that this guide has helped you and that from now on you will be cleaning your brushes more regularly!
Please let me know what you think in the comments below!

Rach x


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