How to: Clean your make-up brushes

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

How to clean your make-up brushes

Any make-up artist will tell you that brushes are one of the most important and expensive investments in their beauty kit. Without their brush collection, and a clean one at that, they are left feeling bare. By looking after your make-up brushes you may never have to replace a good quality set. We asked celebrity make-up artist for Elizabeth Arden, Gina Myers, to share some of her cleaning tips with us.

Gina cleans her brushes every day as she uses them for professional use, but suggests washing your brushes once a week. “This keeps them clean and helps prevent bacteria build-up,” says Gina. Your tools and brushes accumulate oil and product, and can lead to skin breakouts if not washed regularly. With clean tools you can create a much more even and consistent make-up application too.

Remember not to over-wash, and in-between washes, tap off excess powders and wipe off extra make-up with a tissue. 

How to clean your brushes: 

  • First rinse your brushes in warm (not hot) water in the basin or in a bowl.
  • Try not to get the base / handle wet as this may loosen the glue that’s binding the bristles.
  • Gina suggests applying a small amount of baby shampoo (or a gentle shampoo) onto the bristles and working up a gentle lather, as you would with your actual hair. You can also buy brush cleansers that are designed specially to clean your brushes.
  • Be sure to rinse the shampoo off properly as you don’t want your brushes to be left sticky.
  • Rinse them again under running water. Keep rinsing until the water runs clear.
  • Once a month, try adding a tiny drop of olive oil to your brushes, but yet again be sure to remove it all, as you don’t want oily brushes. “It will improve and maintain the quality of your brushes, “ says Gina.
  • Before you place your brushes down to dry on a towel or on the edge of a counter, return the bristles to their original shape. Never heat dry.


Other articles you may be interested in:
How to apply blusher
Ten make-up brushes to invest in
How to apply bronzer like a pro
Contouring with Elizabeth Arden
Optical illusions

Written by

Zoe has a bachelor’s degree in motion picture medium. She loves all things beauty and fashion. When she is not writing articles for the latest issue of Clicks Club Card magazine or, she is obsessed with gel nails, lengthening mascaras and healthy glowing skin! Zoe on Google+

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  1. Fatima Bibi Hoosen

    I sometimes use a bicarb/water solution to clean my makeup brushes

    5 years ago •

  1. Gugu Ogunfowora

    Baby shampoo doesn’t usually make it into my grocery list, but anti-bacterial soap does (little boys at home :) I’ve been using a small amount of anti-bacterial soap (as i figured it would do away with bacteria and germs that may land on my face) and rinse thoroughly. Is the anti-bacterial soap bad for my brushes? Thanks for olive oil tip, will try it out.

    5 years ago •

    1. BeautySouthAfrica

      Hi Gugu, if your skin doesn’t react to the soap and it isn’t drying out your brushes then it is fine :) Perhaps treat them with olive oil every couple of washes to prevent them from drying out.

      5 years ago •

  1. Nimmi Solomon

    I think often we don’t clean our make-up brushes properly because we don’t know how. This article was a great help.

    6 years ago •

  1. Anne

    I am guilty of not cleaning mine often! Thanks for the tips xx

    6 years ago •

  1. ProMakeupMe

    I also use shampoo to clean wash my brushes :) and I even use a little conditioner before I rinse rinse rise! Leaves my brushes super soft and smelling heavenly!

    6 years ago •

  1. Nortier

    This is brilliant… as i never knew what to use, in case i damaged my brushes.. so after a while would just replace them.. Now i can prolong the life of my brushes….very handy

    6 years ago •

  1. Ayesh

    I seriously need to start cleaning my make-up brushes. I don’t have many, but they certainly need a wash. Will get on it asap.

    6 years ago •

  1. Pannack

    Great tips you really do have to do this

    6 years ago •

  1. Zellikinz

    This is great . For some reason I have been cleaning mine with alcohol. Will def try this

    6 years ago •

  1. Nadine

    Good to know, I’m cleaning my brushed tonight…

    6 years ago •

  1. CherylGD

    Cleaning my brushes has become a weekly routine especially in summer with the increase of bacteria. Love the olive oil tip!

    6 years ago •

  1. Cornelli

    Great tips!! Didn’t know half of this info!!!

    6 years ago •

  1. Des

    Such useful advice and information to prevent grime from building up on your brush and passing bacteria to your face.

    6 years ago •

  1. Sue1N

    Awesome tips! Especially the olive oil on maintaining and improving the quality of your brushes. Going to try that for sure!

    6 years ago •

  1. Jenna-Lee Pretorius

    thank you for these tips, I must clean my brushes, actually need to go make up shopping again soon. and I never thought to used baby shampoo or olive oil. thank you

    6 years ago •

  1. Azraa

    Thanks for the helpful article! I dont wash mine as often as I need to!

    6 years ago •

  1. Adams

    Thanks for this reminder to clean my brushes.

    6 years ago •

  1. Anni*

    I usually wash my brushes with Johnson’s baby shampoo (The yellow one) and I have no complaints….

    6 years ago •

  1. Pseudo_kate

    I normally use the makeup brush cleanser from MAC which lasts me a very long time considering I clean my brushes every weekend. I also use a tiny bit of shampoo if I’m in a rush. Love the tip of using olive oil – will definitely be doing that from now on.

    6 years ago •

  1. foreverGLAM

    Thanks for the baby shampoo tip, I will definitely be using it.

    6 years ago •

  1. me

    Guilty of not washing my brushes enough. blush-blush

    6 years ago •

  1. Adele

    I need to clean my brushes, thanks now I can clean it.

    6 years ago •

  1. NaturalDiva

    I use baby shampoo usually but the one time I had to use regular adult shampoo and it left me brushes feeling very oily and the bristles almost “stuck together”? Stick to the mild stuff!

    6 years ago •

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