Exactly How You Should Be Cleaning Your Makeup Brushes, According To A Makeup Artist

Soap is a no go.


Sinead Martin |

I get it, there’s already a long list of things you should be doing — but somewhere between calling your long-distance bestie more often and decluttering your wardrobe lies the vital task of washing your make-up brushes. After all, with each passing day those little beauty tools gather dust, dirt, oil and bacteria, which you blissfully unaware apply to your skin with every use. Ewww.

Now that I’ve got you cringing with disgust it’s time to get down to it. But, don’t think you can just run them under warm water or rub them with sanitizer and call it a day; there’s a technique to making sure you’re getting rid of the bacteria and taking care of your bristles. Here’s exactly how the experts say you should do it.

You should be washing your brushes at least once a week.

According to celebrity makeup artist Allan Aponte, the brushes you use the most — i.e. usually your foundation and concealer brushes — should be cleaned once a week while everything else is usually fine to only be cleaned once or twice a month.

Brushes that you get wet or use liquid products with are also more important to keep clean because “moist environments allow for an overgrowth of bacteria and fungi,” says dermatologist Dr Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. This is especially crucial if you have sensitive or acne-prone skin.

READ MORE: How To Deep Clean A Beautyblender So It Looks Brand New

Only wash the tips of your bristles.

Rather than dunking your whole brush head into a bowl of water, Aponte suggests only getting the ends of your bristles wet under lukewarm, running water. “Submerging the whole brush head will eventually dissolve the glue that holds the brush together,” explains Aponte.

1. First up, supplies

The first step in attaining sterilised make-up brushes is, of course, gathering the right supplies. I’d say there are four main things you need to give your brushes a good washing: Gentle shampoo, water, a rubber mat, and a lint-free towel.

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2. Wash

To start, rinse the bristles of your make-up brush with lukewarm water. Be cautious to always keep the water running down the length of the bristles. This will prevent water from streaming into the base of the brush, which can weaken the glue and shorten its life span. Then, work a small amount of gentle shampoo (like baby shampoo) in the bristles and swirl the brush gently on the silicone mat in circular motions, rinsing with water as you go. To protect your brushes, use light pressure as you swish the brush around, if you don’t have a mat then use the palm of your hand.

3. And repeat

Continue to lather and rinse (adding more shampoo if needed) until you notice that the water rinses clear.

4. Dry

Squeeze all of the excess water carefully out of the brush, and reshape the bristles as you go. Now lay your brushes on a lint-free cloth (like a facecloth) to dry. Let the bristles hang over the edge of your sink, and flip them over after a few hours to ensure the best shape. Leave your brushes to dry overnight, it generally takes 8-12 hours.

Depending on how often you use your brushes, I’d recommend giving them some TLC at least every 3 weeks — BONUS! You’ll notice how much smoother your application is after cleaning them.

You should replace your brushes at least once every year.

Maybe even more often if you use your brushes more frequently. Aponte says there are a few signs to look for, including if it’s lost its shape, if the base of the brush head is shaking, if your bristles are constantly shedding, and if it’s lost its fullness.

Women’s Health participates in various affiliate marketing programmes, which means we may get commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites.

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