How-To: Clean Makeup Brushes

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Hey everyone! Today I’m talking about a part of makeup use that most people just hate; brush cleaning. As some of you know from my Makeup Brush 101, brushes can make makeup look better, but they are hella annoying to clean. I know how it feels. We look at our brushes with a sinking feeling, knowing that we must clean them eventually, but they will get dirty again in 24 hours. There’s something about washing items that just get dirty again (like dishes) that can makes me so demoralized. However, washing your brushes is really important and easier than you think. I’m here to give you the low-down on my cleaning techniques! Read on for more.

Brush cleaning is critical for several reasons. The less important reason is that the brushes look dirty and the colors can mix and muddy each other. So if you take lots of pictures like me, you are grossed out when your brushes are in the shot. The more important reason to regularly clean your brushes is to rid them of bacteria. I mean, you’re putting these things on your face every day! It’s highly likely that your giant chin zit is caused by dirty brushes.

I don’t like to preach, because I definitely DON’T clean my brushes enough, but I try to do it at least once a month. If you use liquid products on your brushes you should definitely wash them more often because moist environments are a breeding ground for bacteria. For the sake of this how-to, I’m going to show you the basic method for washing any brush (and one cosmetic sponge).

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1.As you can see in this picture, you don’t need many tools to clean your brushes in a simple way. I usually use a bowl or large cup, gentle soap, and my own palm. I recommend baby shampoo or dish soap to clean the brushes. My brushes aren’t very expensive, so I don’t think brush cleaner is necessary. Dish soap is a little rougher on the brushes, but it helps with the really dirty ones.

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2. Here’s an example of my most visibly dirty brush. I use the blush brush with multiple different colors and bronzers, so it is quite pink. My goal is to eliminate almost all the color from the white tipped bristles. These kinds of brushes are great for seeing how the cleaning is going. Start off by laying out your brushes near water or a sink. I also recommend an old towel for drying.

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3. Put a little soap on the bottom of you bowl, and fill it with water. I use warm water because your hands will be in it quite a bit. Dip the brush into the water and make sure it has some suds on it. I couldn’t photograph the next bit because I was using both hands, but I usually rub the bristles on my palm quite aggressively and watch the color come off. You might need to rinse under the sink and repeat a few times. Once the water runs clear from the brush and it looks clean, it should be good.

4. For some products (like my epically gross cosmetic sponge), you may need to empty and refill the soap bowl. It’s all about rinsing and repeating until the makeup color is down the drain or on your hand. Luckily, the pigment of most cosmetics makes this process easier.

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5. The drying process is surprisingly important as well. ALWAYS dry your brushes laying flat. If you dry them at an angle, the water will run into the handle and dissolve the glue. You don’t want these brushes to deteriorate any sooner than necessary! It will take a while for some of the denser brushes to dry, maybe even 24 hours, so keep that in mind when you wash. I flipped these brushes once during their drying time and they were ready in the morning.

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As you can see, this simple washing has left my brush much cleaner and more white. You won’t usually be able to get rid of all pigment, but you can do pretty well. I hope this step-by-step helps you to tackle a good brush cleaning! The less brushes you use, the easier this is. And there’s nothing better than feeling a clean brush on your face!

-Kate

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