Clean Makeup Brushes Like a Pro!

A simple question for you:  When was the last time you cleaned your makeup brushes?  Some of you might be asking, “I’m suppose to clean those?!”  Oops!

Makeup brushes aren’t cheap and if you are like me, then you use yours almost everyday.  After a while, the build-up of makeup starts turning eye shadow colors into mud, your foundation begins to streak, and powder gets clumpy.  Not good.  The brushes easily build up with dirt, oils, bacteria (yuck!) and of course…makeup!  So, to keep your investment in tip-top shape, you need to maintain them, and that means cleaning them.

As a professional artist whose favorite medium is paint, I clean quite a few brushes.  Although, most of them are paint brushes.  I have a specific way I clean my artist’s brushes to keep the natural hair bristles nice and soft.  This extends the life of the brush, plus, makes paint glide on smoothly.  Now, why wouldn’t you want the same thing for your makeup brushes?

Dirty Brushes!

I use these brushes everyday (listed from left to right in the above picture, but not particularly in this order):

Whether you use synthetic or a natural hair bristles, you can use this cleaning method on both.

So, let’s get our hands dirty and our brushes clean!!

Tools you will need:

  • A clean plate

  • Olive Oil (the secret ingredient…it keeps the bristles soft)

  • Baby Shampoo (or any mild hand soap will work, too)



STEP 1:  Start by adding equal parts of olive oil and baby shampoo to a clean plate.

STEP 2:  Dip your brush into both the olive oil and shampoo and swirl around until all the bristles are coated with both.

STEP 3: Now comes the messy part.  Take your brush to the sink and wet it under running water.  Use the sink or your hands (my preferred tools) to work the oil and shampoo into a good lather.

STEP 4:  Then rinse really well.  While rinsing, hold your brush so that the bristles are pointing down towards the sink.  This helps keep water out of the metal piece (called the ferrule).  If water is allowed to sit and dry in this part of the brush, it breaks down the glue that holds the bristles in place.  Water + Ferrule = No Bristles.

I usually have to repeat steps 2-4 a few times to get all of the makeup out.  While rinsing, squeeze the bristles from the ferrule to the end of the bristles to get them clean.

STEP 5:  Once the water runs clear and you don’t see anymore soap or makeup, squeeze all of the excess water from the bristles.  Use a paper towel to dry up some of the water and help shape them, always moving from ferrule to the end of the bristles.   It’s best if you can let them dry with the bristles facing down, but I usually just leave mine flat like this.  24 hours is my preferred drying time, but overnight will work, too.

Cleaning once a week is best, but I understand that isn’t realistic for some people.  At least try to fit it in once a month.

Wasn’t that easy?  Now go clean those brushes!!!

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2 Comments on “Clean Makeup Brushes Like a Pro!”

  1. Thanks for any other excellent article. Where else could anybody get that type of information in such an ideal approach of writing? I’ve a presentation next week, and I’m at the search for such info.

  2. Meredith says:

    Wow! I definitely don’t clean my brushes, but this is convicting and I definitely should! Thanks for the tips 🙂


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