How to Clean Your Make-up Brushes

What You Need

Set out everything you need before you get started

How I Clean My Brushes

  • Step 1:  I lay out all my brushes on the counter top adjacent to the kitchen sink.  I tend to group them by category, for no other reason than I am very pedantic.
  • Step 2:  I apply a drop of shampoo into the palm of my hand (or you could put a dollop of shampoo into a bowl and dip your brushes into that).  I then gently swirl the brush in the shampoo.  This gentle motion works the product into the bristles and quickly removes dirt.  I then rinse the bristles thoroughly under the tap (warm water, medium flow), taking care NOT to let the water run into the ferule of the brush (if you do, you will loosen the glue and the hairs will fall out).  Depending on how dirty the brush is, it may require 2-3 shampoos and rinses.
  • Step 3:  Remove heavy wetness from the brush hair with a paper towel and then shape the bristles with your fingertips.  Then place the damp brush on a clean towel which is place on a flat surface (e.g. table edge, ironing board).  Keep the brush head over the edge so as the air can circulate around the hairs.
  • Step 4:  Leave to dry overnight.
  • Step 5: When your brushes are completely dry, you may need to swirl them gently on the clean towel to loosen the hairs (sometimes they stick together during the cleaning process).  Store them in clean containers.  You may wish to store your brushes in brush guardsto maintain their shape (although I don’t bother).

    I place my brushes in front of a window to dry

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How Often Should You Clean Your Brushes?

I clean my professional brushes using the above deep-cleaning process after every use and usually I clean my personal brushes in the same go.  When I’m on a make-up job, I will spot clean my brushes between uses using MAC Brush Cleanser.  You can reuse your personal brushes a couple of times but I’d say no more than 3 or 4.  If you don’t deep clean your brushes regularly your brushes will; (a) harbour bacteria, which may lead to contamination of your skin and make-up products, and (b) become clogged which will make it hard to blend your products and achieve the desired colours / finish.


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