How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes

Makeup brushes are like an extension of your arm when you’re a Makeup Artist. So take good care of your makeup brushes and they will take good care of your clients in return 😀

Maintaining good brush hygiene is extremely important for several reasons:

1. Your colours stay true to form because you don’t have old colour built up on the bristles, tinting your colours one way or another or having colour stuck on the brush which causes new makeup to not stick to the brush very well or deposit unevenly to the skin.

2. As brushes deposit colour to the skin, they also pick up oils, sebum, bacteria and environmental pollutants that have ended up on the skin. These little ‘nasties’ can build up on your brush and cause makeup to look streaky or uneven on the skin. They can also, and most importantly, cause breakouts or recurring breakouts of acne & other skin irritations by depositing & re-depositing these nasties onto your skin over & over again.

3. Good hygiene can also extend the life of your makeup products. After using a, for example, lip brush in your lip palette, you need to clean it before going back for any more colour so as not to endanger your client’s health and to prolong the life of your product substantially by making sure there’s no bacteria in it or being added to it.

There are 2 methods to cleaning makeup brushes, the Quickie & the Deep Clean.

I use the Quickie method when I’m on shoots or between clients to maintain a hygienic work space & working conditions for my clients. The best brush cleaner that I find does the job well is from Sephora called Daily Brush Cleaner or Cover FX Brushes Cleanser (also requires no rinsing).

HOW-TO: To use this method, take your brush, spray it several times (3 times for an eye brush or lip brush, 5-7 times for a face/body/blush/contour brush) and, using a clean towel, make circular motions on the towel until all makeup is off the brush, ending with a squeeze to put the bristles back in place. Do this gently, keeping in mind this is a dry clean to disinfect & remove immediate product, not to get right down into the depths of the brush as you could ruin your brushes otherwise. This method is also called a “dry clean” by other makeup artists because since the brushes were never soaked with water, they can be ready to reuse right away.

The Deep Clean method should be done WEEKLY for someone who wears makeup everyday for their personal brushes and after each and EVERY work day for an MUA who may have several clients back to back in a day (meanwhile still using the Quickie between faces).

Now everyone has different advice on how to deep clean makeup brushes, and they’re not all bad, but some methods are best for some people while not being good for everyone in general; these are tips that are safe/best for everyone to use. Firstly, you have to decide if you’d like to use a brush liquid cleaner or a shampoo. For those with highly sensitive skin, please use a cleaner (I recommend the brush cleanser by Quo at Shoppers Drug Mart) or an unscented baby shampoo. For those who do not have sensitive skin, I recommend using a mild shampoo that is sulfate, phthalate, & scent free. Personally, I use an organic shampoo on my hair that is all of the above & so it suits me very well to use on my brushes as well since I know it’s not too harsh and my skin will not react poorly to it. I do not recommend using “any shampoo” because not just any shampoo will do. After all, you have to put these brushes on your face or your client’s face so please be mindful of everyone’s different sensitivities when choosing the way you clean your brushes (the same goes for reusable makeup sponges).

HOW-TO: Take a nickel sized amount of shampoo in your palm, wet the brush under lukewarm water, and turn it bristle side down in your palm while making circular motions. Rinse & repeat until the water runs clear. Make a final rinse with cold water. Make a bed for your brushes with a clean towel partially rolled up. Place the brushes handle up (bristles down) with the handle resting on the ‘pillow’ part of the towel bed (the rolled up portion). This is so that water doesn’t leak down into the handle of the brush & cause the handle glue to loosen. Do this at night so that you won’t be rushed to use your brushes before they’re dry. Some people choose to rinse their brushes with conditioner, however, it’s not something I recommend for most peoples skin since conditioners contain moisturizing ingredients (oils, proteins, etc) that some people’s skin will not agree with. Using a mild cleaning agent is a much safer bet.

P.s. by using my method, the same one used by many other professional MUAs, I still have all my brushes I bought 8 years ago 🙂


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