Give Your Makeup Brushes a Clean Sweep

DIY tips to keep your makeup brushes clean.

Makeup brushes feel so soft and plush when they’re new. Over time, wear and tear on your brushes can take that feeling away. Caring for your brushes doesn’t have to be a chore, and it can extend their life for years.

Good-quality brushes turn ordinary makeup application into something almost magical. When I have that special brush in my hand, I just feel like I know what I’m doing—like a true makeup artist. If you’ve ever bought a good quality makeup brush, you know just how expensive they can be. And they won’t last long if you don’t take care of them.

The one thing that all makeup brushes have in common is that they’re a breeding ground for bacteria. Yuck! Think about the oils and germs that gather on your face. And then think about how those undesirables get transmitted onto your brushes every time they come into contact with your skin. If that’s not enough to make your skin crawl, nothing is.

High quality makeup brushes are designed to last for years, but only if we take care of them and clean and store them properly.

Here are my top tips for keeping your makeup brushes feeling like new.

Clean your makeup brushes on a regular basis

If you wear makeup all the time, then clean your makeup brushes once a week. Wear makeup less regularly? Clean them at least monthly.

I find that it’s best to wash makeup brushes at night before you go to bed, so they’ll have the opportunity to dry before you next use them. Be sure to lay them flat to dry. If you dry them standing up, water will seep into the brushes at the ferrule (the fancy name for where the bristles meet the handle). When this happens, the water can weaken the glue where the bristles are bonded and your brush will start to lose its hairs.

Grab a bar of soap

There’s no need to waste your hard earned money on special makeup brush cleansers. You can give your brushes a really great cleansing with plain old unscented white soap. You can also use gentle shampoos that are sulfate free, or even baby shampoo. The gentler the better.

If you really want to get a special makeup brush cleaner, then be sure to read the label and don’t purchase any cleansers that contain alcohol. Those will only dry out the brush hairs and eventually cause breakage. In my opinion, it’s just not worth it when a little old bar of soap will do the same trick.

1. Get your brush completely wet using lukewarm water.

2. Once your brush is saturated, swirl your brush onto a bar of soap until it lathers, or apply shampoo to a sponge and simply swirl your brush on the sponge until you create a nice lather. It’ll totally gross you out when you see all of the makeup colors coming out of the brushes.

3. You may have to rinse the brush and continue the same swirling technique a few times to clean all the old makeup off your brush.

4. Once you think all of the makeup, oils and gunk have been removed from the brush, rinse it in lukewarm water. If the bristles feel slippery or slimy, then you’ll need to continue rinsing to ensure all of the soap or shampoo has been removed.

If your brushes have a metal band on them, try not to get this area wet. It can lead to rust and eventually may destroy your brush.

5. Give your brush a gentle squeeze to remove the excess water and leave to dry flat on a clean towel. Your brushes should dry in about 6 to 8 hours, so cleaning them before you go to bed is the ideal time.

Don’t forget about the handles

You can simply clean the handles with a soapy cloth. If you’re a real germ freak, use a bit of rubbing alcohol. This way you can clean and disinfect in one quick step.

Preserve the names and numbers

If you really want to keep your brushes in tip-top shape, put a bit of clear nail polish over the name or number on the brush handle. Names and numbers will eventually wear off, and with regular washing you’ll notice them starting to disappear. A quick coat of polish will definitely protect the brush information, so you won’t forget just which brush is used for what.

Condition your brushes

If you notice that your brushes are feeling a bit stiff over time, try massaging a tiny bit of hair conditioner into the bristles and rinse in warm water. Dry them flat as you normally would to bring back that soft, luxurious feel.

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