Exactly How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes and Why

Eww….when was the last time you cleaned your makeup brushes? No, swiping it on a towel or your pant leg doesn’t count. I’m talking about a wet it down and soap it up cleaning to remove no only residual color left by your makeup, but also the dirt, dead skin, and grime they collect. But did you know that if you store your brushes in the bathroom they’re also likely covered in bacteria? YUCK! Studies have shown that “potentially infectious aerosols may be produced in substantial quantities during flushing.” Ewwww!  But worse, ” Aerosolization can continue through multiple flushes to expose subsequent toilet users.1” Yes, that means that when you flush, it sends up a mist of goo that settles on everything in the room.

How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes the Right Way

Since makeup brushes are used around your eyes and lips, they need to be clean. You can purchase a brush cleaner or use a mild soap. But I prefer a cleaner that also conditions my brushes, so I use SHANY Detox Professional Brush Cleanser. It’s paraben-free and instant-dry, so I can use the brush again in just a few hours. It also has flower extracts and leaf juice to clean and disinfect both natural and synthetic makeup brushes that will likely extend their life. I also recommend their SHANY Bamboo Brush Set with Premium Synthetic Hair, Bamboo Handles and a Cotton Pouch. They’re vegetarian-friendly.

SHANY Detox Professional Brush Cleanser. It's paraben-free and instant-dry so I can use the brush again in just a few hours. It also has flower extracts and leaf juice to clean and disinfect both natural and synthetic makeup brushes which will likely extend their life. I also recommend their SHANY Bamboo Brush Set with Premium Synthetic Hair, Bamboo Handles. and a Cotton Pouch. They're vegetarian-friendly.

In addition to a great brush cleaner, there are products that make cleaning your makeup brushes easier. For instance, a cosmetic brush finger glove gives you a ridged surface to gently scrub your brush against to get to the trapped color and grime deep inside. For under $5, it’s a better option that the palm of your hand. This little cleaning tool helps remove the dust and color inside the brush without damaging it and can be used dry to remove dust and loose powder.

A cosmetic makeup brush finger glove gives you a ridged surface to scrub your brush against. For under $5, it's a better option that the palm of your hand

The Right Way to Dry Your Makeup Brushes

Once the brush is thoroughly cleaned and rinsed, you need to allow it to dry. Most people think popping it handle down into a cup is the best way to dry their brush, I know I did. But that’s before I found out that by doing that, the water collects in the metal part where the brush and handle are connected. That can cause rusting or worse, it can soften the glue holding it together resulting in your expensive brush’s life being shortened.

To properly dry makeup brushes you can lay them flat until they’re dried, but that can leave them mishappen, especially kabuki brushes (my favorite!) unless you use a makeup brush guard. The problem with brush guards is that they can trap the moisture in the brush making them dry slower and possibly doing damage to the brush. I think a cosmetic brush tree is a better solution. Not only can it used for drying brushes, but it’s can store them as well.  Because they’re placed with their handles up, the brush heads retain their shape naturally. Prices range from $10 to $40 with brush capacity of just a few to enough for a professional makeup artist.

A cosmetic brush tree is the perfect place to dry your brushes after washing - storing them handle down allows the water to collect in the metal piece that holds the brush together.

Now that your brushes are clean, store them away from the bacteria floating around in your bathroom (and start flushing with the lid down to reduce the number of bacteria swirling around). I keep my cosmetics in a train case that I got as a gift with purchase from Victoria Secret years ago, but you can find similar ones on Amazon. I love this 11″ Pink Cosmetic Makeup Train Case because of its unique drawer system. It keeps all of your items neat and tidy and ready to use.

Store your makeup brushes and cosmetics away from the bacteria floating around in your bathroom (and start flushing with the lid down to reduce the number of bacteria swirling around).

Have I grossed you out about what’s on your makeup brush? Did you already know how to clean your makeup brushes but didn’t realize how import it is? Will you be washing them soon?

1 Lifting the lid on toilet plume aerosol: A literature review with suggestions for future research American Journal of Infection Control, Volume 41, Issue 3, Pages 254-258 David L. Johnson, Kenneth R. Mead, Robert A. Lynch, Deborah V.L. Hirst