How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes – the Non-Toxic Way

by Valerie Bisharat

How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes
Image Credit: Annie Spratt.

Have you ever thought about what makes its way onto your makeup brushes day after day?

Even the cleanest of us can get exposed to bacteria, develop acne, or start getting irritated skin if we don’t regularly wash our makeup brushes. And clean brushes last longer and stay softer to boot!

You’ll want to clean your brushes once per week (once per month at the very least), unless any of the following are true:

  • You use brushes around your eyes. Those should be washed once a week for sure.
  • You use both your finger and a brush to apply the product (for example, when picking up eyeshadow color.) Our fingers carry germs, so clean those brushes once a week.
  • You have a cut or an eye infection. Clean after each use.
  • Someone else uses your brush. Clean after those uses.
  • You’re applying eyeliner with a brush. Washing after use will help you achieve a crisper line the next time around.
  • You want to switch from a brush to a bronzer or vice versa. For the most precise look, clean before switching colors.

So, how do you clean the little guys without using traditional brush cleaning spray or solutions, which typically contain potentially toxic ingredients?

You follow the below three steps, which we’ll get to in a moment.

Step 1: Clean

  • Wash your hands with soap and put a drop of Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap in your palm. Use any scent except peppermint, as the peppermint oil and menthol in that formulation might cause eye irritation if the brush is used near your eyes.
  • Add warm water to the soap and using your index finger, mix thoroughly. Don’t use hot or very warm water, as that can loosen the bristle glue.
  • Take your brush and draw in gentle circular motions on your palm to incorporate the soap solution and clean the bristles. Avoid pressing the brush into your palm – that can damage the bristles!

    Step 2: Rinse

    • Run warm water and hold the brush under the stream to rinse. Keep the base of the bristles dry. This will help prevent the bristle glue from deteriorating.
    • Remove excess water by squeegeeing the bristles with your fingers. Don’t yank the brush bristles. That can cause them to fall out.
    • Repeat the squeegeeing until all pigment is removed. You might have to do a second round of soap and warm water before all makeup is removed.

      Step 3: Dry

      • Lay your brushes horizontally to dry overnight. Resting them on their sides will keep the bases of the bristles dry, preventing the glue from loosening. Letting the brushes hang over the side of the sink exposes all of the bristles to air and dries them completely.
      • Once dry, fluff your brushes to return them to their original shape. To fluff, run your fingers at the midpoint of the finger gently back and forth over the top of the brush.

        Enjoy your fresh, soft brushes!

        1 comment

        Jaleh Bisharat Feb 27, 2018

        I’ve tried this twice now and it’s fabulous. So easy and so effective. I hate to think about how infrequently I cleaned my makeup brushes before.

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