When was the last time you cleaned your makeup brush?
If you’re anything like most women, you hardly think about cleaning your makeup brushes at all… at least, not until your blush brush turns from white to pink. But cleaning your makeup brushes is more important than you may realize. In addition to hanging onto old makeup residue, makeup brushes collect dirt, oil, and bacteria. Every time you put a dirty makeup brush on your face, you’re bringing all that gross stuff in contact with your skin. This can cause your pores to become clogged and your skin to break out. Even worse, if you’re not cleaning eyeshadow, mascara, or eyeliner brushes regularly, you’re introducing bacteria into your eyes—and that’s definitely not good. A clean makeup brush will also hold your products better and allow you to more easily apply your makeup. Plus, a clean brush is just softer and gentler on your skin.
Now that you know you should be cleaning your brushes, you may be wondering how to clean your makeup brushes. The best way to clean your brushes is to get a makeup brush cleaner. Some people use soap and water, but soap can be too harsh for your brushes. A good makeup brush cleaner will ensure your brushes last longer and feel softer.
Reviews and guides on some of the best makeup brush cleaners
Cinema Secrets Brush Cleaner
Cinema Secrets Brush Cleaner was created by Maurice Stein, an Academy Award-winning makeup artist, so you know this stuff is going to be good. Cinema Secrets is a blue liquid cleanser that stands out thanks to its pleasant vanilla scent (Although, the smell is a bit strong if you’re not a fan of vanilla). Beloved by professional makeup artists, Cinema Secrets gets brushes clean fast. Even the brightest blushes and eyeshadows wash out completely, leaving your brush as clean as the day you bought it. Your brushes will dry quickly using this product, too.
To clean your makeup brushes with Cinema Secrets Brush Cleaner, you’ll first want to wipe off any excess makeup with a clean paper towel or tissue. Then pour enough of the cleaner into a small bowl or container to dip the bristles of your brush into. A shot glass works great, as you can submerge the bristles completely without using a ton of liquid. All you need to do is dip your brush in the cleaner, then wipe your brush with a paper towel. Repeat this until your brush is completely clean and nothing else is coming off the bristles when you wipe them. Then lay your brush flat to dry. The great thing about Cinema Secrets is that it should only take a few minutes for your brush to dry completely.
Beautyblender Solid Blendercleanser
The beautyblender is the latest and greatest in makeup application tools. This little, egg-shaped sponge has taken the beauty world by storm, making makeup easier to blend and creating a flawless finish. But cleaning your beautyblender can be a bit challenging. Scrub too hard, and you’ll damage the beautyblender’s spongey surface. And the tiny pores on this sponge are stubborn when it comes to holding on to dirt and makeup residue. You need a cleanser specially formulated for the Beautyblender, and that’s where the solid blendercleanser comes in. This is not a liquid makeup brush cleanser, but a small bar of soap designed specifically for the beautyblender. The solid blendercleanser comes in a cute little tin, making it easy to travel with. It cleans effectively and has a pleasant lavender scent. However, this cleanser is on the expensive side, especially for what is essentially just a bar of soap.
To use the Blendercleanser, wet your beautyblender and rub it over the soap. This will create a bubbly lather. Get your beautyblender all lathered up, then rinse and repeat until the water runs clear. The solid blendercleanser comes with a special pad to set your Beautyblender on while it dries, allowing it to dry evenly and completely.
Japonesque Makeup Brush Cleanser
Japonesque is a brand known for their high-quality makeup brushes and tools, so it’s no surprise that the Japonesque Makeup Brush Cleanser is one of the best hardcore cleansers out there. This cleanser isn’t meant for everyday use—it is best used to get difficult makeup (such as gel liners or cream concealers) off brushes. Makeup artists love this cleanser, as it allows them to quickly clean a brush, wipe it off, and keep going. For the rest of us, Japonesque Makeup Brush Cleanser is perfect for that one product that seems impossible to clean. You may find that you only use this cleanser occasionally, but you’ll be glad you have it there when you need it.
To clean brushed with the Japonesque Makeup Brush Cleanser, you wet a paper towel with cleanser and use it to wipe down your brush until the brush is clean. Or, if you prefer, you can dip the tip of your brush in the cleanser and gently rub the cleanser into the bristles. Gently is the key word here—you don’t need much to get your brush clean. Wipe down the bristles with a paper towel, and repeat until the brush wipes clean. Lay your brushes on a flat surface to dry when you’re done.
e.l.f. Daily Brush Cleaner
The e.l.f. Daily Brush Cleaner is perfect for makeup beginners or younger girls just learning to apply makeup. It’s an inexpensive, but effective, cleanser that can be used daily to keep brushes fresh. You won’t get an intense deep-cleaning with this cleanser, but it’s perfect for wiping down brushes after each use to help keep them clean in between shampooing. The cleanser is also formulated with alcohol to disinfect brushes and keep things sanitary. The low price-point makes this an especially attractive option, which comes as no surprise, considering e.l.f. is known for creating high-quality low-price makeup and tools.
To use the e.l.f. Daily Brush Cleaner, simply spray the cleanser onto your brush and wipe it off with a clean, dry cloth. It’s that easy! Make sure you allow your brushes to dry completely, preferably while laying on a flat surface, before you use them again. It’s recommended that you use e.l.f. Daily Brush Cleaner (or something like it) every time you use your makeup brushes to remove gunk and disinfect.
MAC Brush Cleanser
MAC is another brand that is beloved by makeup artists and beauty experts thanks to their high-quality products. MAC is known as one of the best brands in the beauty industry, so the MAC Brush Cleanser comes with high expectations. Luckily, this product delivers. The MAC Brush Cleanser performs well, easily removing even the toughest makeup gunk and residue from brushes. It’s certainly a no-frills cleanser—it doesn’t do anything more than what it promises, which is get brushes clean. It’s not particularly cheap, but it’s also not too expensive. There’s no special gimmick with this cleanser, but that’s fine. This cleanser does what it should, and it leaves brushes feeling soft and clean. Unlike many cleansers, the MAC Brush Cleanser doesn’t have a strong fragrance, which many users may actually prefer. However, if you like your brushes smelling extra fresh, you might miss the scent of other cleansers.
To use MAC Brush Cleanser, pour a little cleanser onto a paper towel or directly onto the bristles of your brush. Rub the bristles onto the paper towel until it’s clean. You may need to repeat this process several times until the paper towel isn’t picking up any more pigment. Let your brushes air dry—there’s no need to rinse with water, so brushes should dry pretty quickly after using this cleanser.
Japonesque Solid Brush Cleanser
The Japonesque Solid Brush Cleanser is one of the most-loved makeup brush cleansers out there. First, it’s extremely effective. This cleanser gets every last bit of makeup off your brushes. If you have light-colored brushes that seem to be permanently stained by blushes or eyeshadows, try this cleanser. You’ll discover that your brushes weren’t really stained—they were just dirty. In addition to its serious cleaning power, the Japonesque Solid Brush Cleanser is gentle on the delicate bristles of your favorite brushes. This cleanser is formulated with moisturizing goat milk, which makes it unique among makeup brush cleansers. The Japonesque Solid Brush Cleanser is also incredibly convenient. Rather than a potentially messy or wasteful liquid, this cleanser is a solid disc, so you can’t spill and it’s easy to travel with.
To use the Japonesque Solid Brush Cleaner, simply wet your brush and rub it on the surface of the cleanser. This will produce a lather that cleans the brush and washes away residue and dirt. Continue rubbing the brush over the cleanser disc until no more product is washing away. Rinse the brush again in water and lay it flat to dry. You’ll also need to rinse the cleanser off with water so all the product residue washes away and your cleanser is clean and ready for its next use.
How often should I clean my makeup brush?
The frequency with which you clean your makeup brush depends on several factors. You have to take into consideration how often you wear makeup, what kinds of makeup you’re wearing, and how sensitive your skin is.
For those who wear makeup on a daily or almost-daily basis, a good rule of thumb is to clean brushes once a week. Brushes that come in contact with your face daily (like your foundation brush, blush brush, contouring/highlighting brushes, and concealer brush) should be washed at least once a week. Eye makeup brushes (such as eyeliner brushes and tools and eyelash brushes) should also be washed roughly once a week. Face and eye brushes are the most important to keep clean. This is because brushes that touch large areas of your face, like your blush and foundation brush, are picking up lots of dirt and bacteria and have the potential to spread it all over your face, causing clogged pores. Brushes used around the eyes must be clean, or you risk spreading bacteria into your eye and potentially causing a nasty infection. Any other brushes, such as eyeshadow brushes or eyebrow brushes, can be cleaned every two weeks to every month.
These guidelines change if you’re using a sponge, such as the increasingly popular Beautyblender. The Beautyblender, and other reusable sponges, absorb bacteria much more easily than typical makeup brushes. Because they’re so porous, Beautyblenders soak up more than just the makeup you use them to apply. They also absorb anything in the air, like hairspray. Think about where you store your sponge and what might be in the air. Just the thought of all that bacteria should make you want to clean your Beautyblender more often! Twice is a week is a good start, but if you’re applying a lot of makeup with your Beautyblender every day, you might clean it three times a week.
Finally, you also have to consider what kind of cleanser you’re using. Some cleansers are meant for a quick daily wipe-down of your product, while others provide more of a deep cleaning. If you’re using especially thick cream products, or gel eyeliner, you’ll want to do a quick cleaning of your brushes daily. However, over time, product and bacteria begin to build up on your brushes and they’ll need a deep cleaning.
The most important thing to remember is that your brush needs to be cleaned and cared for. Even if you don’t clean your brushes as often as you should, cleaning them just twice a month can greatly reduce the amount of bacteria coming in contact with your face. Remember to be gentle when cleaning your brushes, too. You don’t want to get the base of the bristles wet. Even with a liquid cleanser, you only want to get the very tip of the bristles wet. Otherwise, you risk wearing down the glue that holds your brush together. Lastly, don’t scrub too hard—you may damage your brush’s bristles or rip your sponge.