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3 Cheap Ways to Clean Makeup Brushes

posted in: Makeup
May 6, 2021

As far as my beauty rituals go, cleaning my brushes has to be at the bottom of my list of favorites. It’s definitely more of a chore than anything, and one I’m never in the mood to do. However, keeping makeup brushes and sponges clean is essential to not only how they apply makeup, but even the health of our skin.

How Often Should You Clean Your Makeup Brushes?

Makeup, oil, and bacteria build up on our brushes over time. When using dirty brushes, you’re essentially reapplying all that to the face, which can cause acne or other skin irritations. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends makeup brushes and tools to be washed every 7-10 days. Keep reading for three cheap ways to deep clean your makeup brushes, plus some tips and bonus suggestions to make the routine easier.

How to Deep Clean Makeup Brushes

You don’t need to break the bank for an effective brush cleaning routine.

Brush Shampoo

Liquid makeup brush cleaners are great for regular cleansing. One of my favorites is the EcoTools Makeup Brush + Sponge Shampoo ($7.99). It’s incredibly effective at removing surface stains and residue from brushes and sponges… even when I’ve skipped a few weeks! It’s been recently reformulated to be fragrance free, which I think makes it the best choice as fragrance left on your brushes can cause skin irritation. It’s a hypoallergenic brush cleanser made with plant-based ingredients that is also packaged in a 40% post-consumer recycled plastic bottle. It gives a good lather to deep clean the bristles, and doesn’t leave a residue behind like I’ve experienced with other drugstore makeup brush cleaners. A little goes a long way, so don’t over apply or you may spend a while rinsing out the suds.

Beauty Bar

Because I was going through liquid makeup brush shampoo so quickly when washing my large brush collection, I started to look for other options. I had tested out the beautyblender blendercleanser solid which was nice but expensive at $16 a bar. This led me to wonder… would a normal beauty bar do the same thing? I picked up a $5 four-pack of Dove Sensitive Unscented Skin Beauty Bar, and was astonished at how well it worked. I apply a damp brush directly to the wet beauty bar to work up a lather, and set-in makeup comes running off brush, leaving them clean and stain-free. The best part is that this is made with hypoallergenic cleansers and 1/4 moisturizing cream, so my brushes are left soft once dry. Using this method is usually less messy than liquid shampoo, and one bar gives me over two months of cleansing power with my large makeup brush collection (over 100+ brushes!). Keep in mind you may need to “break in” a freshly opened by lathering it between your hands before your first wash.

DIY Cleanser

This one may take a little trial and error, but you can use products you probably already have at home to clean your brushes. Namely, gentle soaps and dish soaps are a popular choice and can remove makeup thoroughly. I wouldn’t particularly recommend this option if you have sensitive skin, though, as these types of products can contain ingredients like fragrance and sulfates that aren’t exactly face-friendly. Also, dish soap alone can be very drying on your brushes and you may lose the soft fluffiness that makes your favorites so special.


Makeup Brush Cleaning Tips:


  • Always use lukewarm water— hot water could compromise the glue holding the bristles together.
  • Using a brush cleaning mat can help you work the cleanser deeper into the brush by running it over the silicone texture.
  • After deep cleaning your makeup brushes, dry them upside down in a brush drying tree so that any excess water flows out of the bristles (again, protecting the glue that holds them together) and they can dry evenly with 360 air circulation.

How to Spot Clean Your Makeup Brushes

If you want to avoid a lot of build up and staining between deep cleans, use a makeup brush spot cleaner to use after each use. Think of it like a dry shampoo that you use on your hair between washes! The best one I’ve ever used is from a brand called Cinema Secrets, which a professional makeup artist recommended to me. It’s available for $10 at Sephora (though you can also buy jumbo bottles and fill your own spray bottles for a better value). This makes makeup slide right off without the need for rinsing, and dries very quickly. It’s also a 99.99% antimicrobial disinfectant, which my acne-prone skin appreciates. Some people even use it as a deep cleaner instead of shampoos or bars, though I personally found it a bit harsh on my brushes when using it in larger. As a spray, though, it’s perfect for keeping my brushes manageable and makes the deep clean so much easier.

How do you clean your makeup brushes?

-Miranda

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