Makeup brushes are part of a daily makeup routine for most of us. Without brushes, makeup application can be challenging and can cause makeup to be spread unevenly or be streaky. A great makeup brush gives you a soft, healthy glow. Brushes are where you should invest your $$$.
Of course, makeup brushes touch our face day after day, so when they’re full of buildup it’s downright gross. But good news: With a good cleaning routine, you can keep them well sanitized and lasting a good long time.
Here are some tips for cleaning your makeup brushes and ensuring they last. Follow a cleaning routine to keep them free of bacteria and other unwanted makeup residue.
Why Do Makeup Brushes Get So Dirty?
Makeup brushes get dirty; including coming in contact with your skin. Regardless of how rigorous you are about keeping your skin clean, skin attracts bacteria, oil, dirt, makeup and daily grime build-up as the day progresses. The deep spaces within the brush bristles become clogged with this build up which needs to be removed.
In fact, this is true for any makeup tool you use, including brushes, sponges, and other applicators. They’re porous, which allows makeup to cling to them.
How Often Should You Clean Your Makeup Brushes?
If you’re like most, you put off cleaning your brushes for as long as possible. It’s simply not everyone’s favorite task, like doing laundry, washing the dishes, changing the oil in the car, or cleaning the windows.
But brush cleaning is essential because brushes touch your skin and can transmit unwanted substances to your face: old makeup, oily buildup, dust, and dirt. Who wants that on their skin?
Plus, the grimy residue can cause breakouts. With continued exposure to dirty brushes, your skin can become irritated, develop a rash, create pimples and blisters, and even trigger an allergic reaction.
Dirty brushes also deteriorate faster than clean ones due to the oils and substances on the bristles. If you keep your brushes clean, they will last much longer.
So, how often should you clean your brushes?
As a consumer, rule of thumb is to clean them once every 30 days at the absolute minimum. If you don’t wear makeup every day and don’t use your brushes very much, you can go for 6 weeks between cleanings.
4 Steps to Keeping Your Makeup Brushes Clean
The best way to keep your brushes in their BEST shape is to clean them on a regular schedule and tried and true method practiced by makeup artists. Here’s how to do it, step-by-step.
Step 1: Cleansing
There are a million types of brush cleaners, but why pay for them when a mild baby shampoo or mild dish soap will do the same thing? Many people swear by dish soap because it’s designed to wipe out grease.
To cleanse the brushes, add lukewarm water to your soap or shampoo and swish it around a little to blend. Run the brushes through the liquid gently, releasing any buildup with the soft motion of the brush moving through water. If you see stuck-on debris, remove it carefully with your fingers.
The same technique can be applied to makeup sponges and other tools you use for makeup, including both natural and synthetic brushes. The key is to remove unwanted buildup gently without ruining the surface of the tool.
DO: Pour a bit of soap into your hand, a plate, or a cleansing mat, then lightly swirl the wet brush around and around, rinsing and dipping the bristles until they are free of debris.
DON’T: Soak the handles and allow the brushes to sit in the cleansing liquid. If water runs into the base and stays there, it will warp the wood and loosen the glue that keeps your brush secure.
Step 2: Conditioning
Did you know you should condition your brushes after cleaning them? That’s right – the conditioning step brings them back to their original luster.
Just like your hair, a makeup brush needs a conditioner step. It preserves the bristles and prevents them from breaking down over time. You’ll experience less bristle breakage and enjoy a softer, gentler feeling from the brushes if you take time to condition them.
Soak them in a mixture of olive oil and the same soap you used to wash them. It should only be a brief soaking of a few minutes. Then rinse them thoroughly and inspect them for any leftover oil or other residues.
Step 3: Reshaping
Now that your brushes are clean and conditioned. It’s time to reshape them into their original form. If you don’t reshape them after washing, they’ll eventually begin to fan out and lose their compact quality. When this occurs, makeup flings off the sides of the brush and goes to waste – not to mention, it interferes with your ability to get a perfect makeup application.
To shape your brushes, use a clean paper towel to gently form them back into their original shape. This step brings the added benefit of removing moisture from the bristles, which makes the brush dry faster as it retains the right shape.
Step 4: Drying
A wet brush is a breeding ground for bacteria. Water that sits on your brush base and wet bristles can seep into the glue and cause it to fail. So, make sure you take time for the drying step because it’s quite important.
The simplest method of drying brushes is to place a towel on top of a table and place the bristles of the brushes over the edge to air dry. Follow these tips to ensure you’re giving your brushes the best drying time possible:
DON’T: Stick your brushes into a cup and call it a day. This isn’t adequate to prevent germs and preserve their shape. **Especially not Bristles facing up.
DO: Allow 6 hours to overnight for the brushes to dry completely. **I like to place them near an open window or place them outside.
DON’T: Rush it and put your brushes into a makeup bag or carrying case while still moist/wet. Wet brushes can develop mold and bacterial growth.
You’ll know your brushes are completely dry and ready for their next use when they feel completely dry and smooth. They may look slightly fluffy from their cleaning, conditioning and drying routine.
Look for Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Makeup Brushes
A brush should be replaced anytime it begins to show signs of discoloration or odor. If the bristles are shedding, hard to reshape, fly-aways, kinked, these are signs that your brushes are breaking down.
Another warning sign is that the bristles are hard to reshape after cleaning. If they fan out, fall to the side, or end up looking bushier and overly fluffy, the bristles are too far gone to provide the best makeup application.