How to clean makeup brushes

How to clean makeup brushes and choose a makeup brush cleaner

24th February 2020 | Author: Libby Mewes

Nobody wants to clean makeup brushes.

It’s a chore, but it’s crucial. If you’re one of those people who spend time and money on toners, moisturisers and cleansers, you’re not doing yourself any favours by not giving the same treatment to the tools you use on that gorgeous skin.

This is not to mention the fact that dirty makeup brushes are breeding grounds for bacteria that have been linked to diseases such as pneumonia and even bone infections. 

Getting clean makeup brushes doesn’t have to take all day, or cost hundreds and we’ve explained how to clean makeup brushes below. Plus, to save you even more hassle we’ve put our top tips for the best makeup brush cleaner below. You can also see how to clean beauty blenders in our explainer.

How to clean makeup brushes

Makeup artists everywhere will suggest the easiest and most effective way of manually cleaning your brushes can be done in six simple steps:

  1. Dip each brush (yes, sadly they do need to be done individually) under hot running water
  2. Put the wet brush into a bowl of gentle makeup brush cleaner – a simple shampoo or soap will do – and rub softly with fingers until a lather is created
  3. Hold the brush under warm running water again until the lather clears away
  4. Repeat the process until the brush looks clean.
  5. Squeeze the brush so there isn’t any water left in-amongst the bristles
  6. Leave flat to dry on a couple of pieces of kitchen roll

Make sure that if you’ve cleaned a couple of brushes not to leave them stacked on top of each other when drying, they may start to smell damp and nobody wants that.

There are alternative methods, but they involve spending money. If you have the budget, and are after a quicker way to clean makeup brushes than the method above, we highly recommend the stylPro Original Makeup Brush Cleaner and Dryer

READ NEXT: Best foundation makeup brushes

It retails for £40 but is often on sale and it uses centrifugal force to spin your makeup brushes in the water. This fans the brushes’ out meaning the water and cleaner get deep inside to clean every bristle. As you lift the brush out of the water, inside a specially designed bowl with splash guard, the spinning removes all the water giving you clean and dry brushes in seconds. 

Watch the video below to see how easy it is: 

You still have to clean your makeup brushes individually, but it’s a much more effective way of doing so. 

For an extra £20, the stylPro Expert Makeup Brush cleaner steps things up a level. It lets you clean eight small brushes at once. 

What’s the best makeup brush cleaner?

The above method should be a perfectly effective way to clean makeup brushes but if you aren’t satisfied with the water method, there are a number of simple makeup cleansers, as well as brush-cleaning specific products on the market. We recommend:

With most specific makeup brush cleaners, the process simply requires a quick spritz of the product directly onto the bristles. It sometimes can leave the brushes slightly wet needing a towel dry, and other products do require washing off – this is dependent on the brand and product you choose to use.

The easiest style of brush to clean are those made with synthetic bristles, they are low maintenance and long-lasting; good quality ones can last as long as a decade if they’re looked after properly. Synthetic brushes are also often better at overall application as they don’t trap makeup in the glue that exists in natural brushes. Three of our favourites include the Glossier Wowder brush (£16), EcoTools Start Beautifully Kit (£13) and the Lily Lolo Fan Brush (£6), or you can read more about the best makeup brushes in our round-up.

How NOT to clean makeup brushes

One thing you absolutely can’t do to cheat is put your makeup brushes in the washing machine or dishwasher – all this will do is overheat the bristles and glue that attaches them to the handle. Put that little bit of effort in and the results will make you very grateful you did, your skin will be thanking you for a long time.


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