How to clean makeup brushes

How to clean makeup brushes and choose a makeup brush cleaner

15th June 2020 | Author: Libby Mewes

Nobody wants to clean makeup brushes. It’s a chore, but if you’re someone who spends 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.

That’s 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 five simple steps:

  • Step 1: Dip each brush (yes, sadly they do need to be done individually) under warm running water
  • Step 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
  • Step 3: Hold the brush under warm running water again until the lather clears away
  • Step 4: Repeat the process until the brush looks clean.
  • Step 5: Squeeze the brush so there isn’t any water left in-amongst the bristles

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.

How to dry your brushes

Once you’ve cleaned your makeup brushes, how do you dry them properly? Some suggest laying your brushes flat over kitchen roll, we think differently.

If any water happens to seep through up the brush towards the handle it can loosen the glue that is holding the bristles together. If this happens, you will start to notice fall out from your brushes.

We love the stylPro Original Makeup Brush Cleaner and Dryer because your brushes are instantly dried, but we have two other methods that will dry your makeup brushes without misshaping and loosening the bristles. 

Brush protector

£4.97 | Buy now from Amazon

This is a 2-in-1 product. Not only can these nets protect your brushes in your makeup bag but they also offer a great drying method.

These makeup brush protectors are like mesh nets available in a range of different sizes and are flexible to fit around all makeup brushes.

The mesh allows your brushes to air dry, and protects from dust, but the great thing about these protectors is that you can stand up your makeup brushes so that water drips down. Follow these three steps to dry your makeup brushes with the protectors:

  • Step 1: Follow our step-by-step guide on how to clean makeup brushes as above
  • Step 2: Use a clean towel and wrap it around the makeup brushes to gently squeeze as much water out of the brushes as possible
  • Step 3: Grab an empty pot or glass, select the right size protector for your makeup brush and slide it on from the handle down to the brush, leaving a 1-2cm gap
  • Step 4: Then just pop the brush in your empty pot or glass mesh down. We recommend you use a maximum of four brushes per pot/glass, because the air needs to circulate to dry your makeup brushes
Jenny Tai | mamabella
Buy now from Amazon

Makeup Brush Drying Rack

£8.65 | Buy now from Amazon

Just like a dish drying rack, this one has been designed for your makeup brushes. 

It keeps the natural shape of your brushes while drip drying them, and keeps dust away from your bristles.

This rack has 26 mixed gripped holes to slide your washed makeup brushes. Push your makeup handle up from the bottom of the tray through the silicon hole and it will sit securely. Just make sure you choose the best size hole for your brush. 

You can then move the makeup brush drying rack into the sink or bathtub to let any excess water drip down.

What’s even better is this drying rack is portable, and it doubles up as an albeit large makeup brush holder. Just flip your makeup brushes the other way round and push your makeup brush handles down from the top of the tray.



Buy now from Amazon

What’s the best brush cleaner?

The above method for how to clean your makeup brushes, and how to dry them, 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.

FURTHER READING: Natural vs synthetic makeup brushes: What’s the difference?

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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