Keeping your makeup tools in tip top condition ensures your application
is flawless, as well as helping to avoid pesky breakouts or pimples. Every time you use a
brush to apply foundation to the skin, eyeshadow to the eyes or
highlighter to the cheeks, you transfer not only pigment but bacteria
that breeds within these cosy warm environments. One of the biggest causes of problem skin is dirty tools, so cleaning your brushes regularly will minimise the risk of spots popping up, as well as helping
to create the makeup look you desire. Although it can be quite time
consuming and messy, getting into a regular ritual will ensure continual great
performance from your tools – plus there’s a quick and easy way you can bridge those ‘super cleaning sessions’ on a daily basis.

How often should I be cleaning my makeup brushes? 
Bacteria breeds quicker than you probably realise; with your tools being in daily contact with your face, the bristles can become an absolute germ farm. At a minimum (if you’re using brushes daily) you should be cleaning them thoroughly every fortnight to ensure makeup residue and bacteria is completely removed. However, if you’re prone to pimples and breakouts it’s definitely worth a more regular deep clean – as well as spritzing in-between uses with an antibacterial cleanser such as Makeup Revolution’s Brush Cleaner. (£5.00)

What can I use to wash away makeup and bacteria?
Many people stick to baby shampoo or sulphate free cleansers to lift away the dirt and grime, while leaving bristles super soft. However, I find specifically designed products work much better and prevent degradation of the bristles over time. I love the solid shampoo pots from ‘Clean’ (£11.75) which are so easy to use (just swish the brush head around the solid bar with a touch of warm water,) but Lush’s solid shampoo bars (intended for hair but full of goodness) are just as effective (£5.75.) Sephora’s Brush Shampoo is fabulous and affordable ($7.00) while Bare Minerals have designed cleansing agents to work specifically with their own brushes (£10.00 each.) The key is to shop around and find a formula and format that works for you – there’s so much available for every budget and need, so test them all and find your favourite!

What’s the best technique to ensure super clean tools? 
Start with your most used, heavily caked makeup brushes and apply a spot of shampoo/cleanser. With a little warm (not boiling) water straight from the tap, start swirling in circular motions in the palm of your hand. (This is where you’ll start to see all the product leaving the brush and filling up the sink!) Keep adding water until there’s no product left on the brush and the water runs away clear; this may require a fair amount of elbow grease, but keep at it. Rinse with some more warm water to remove any shampoo or cleanser residue.

How do I leave them to dry? 
It’s really important to reshape the bristles into their natural shape. They can sometimes get a
little messy or stuck together; you don’t want them to dry this way, as it will prevent
the brush working effectively. Move the bristles around with your fingers to prevent clumping and then place on some kitchen roll, tissue or a towel to dry; this will absorb the moisture and speed up the process. It will take around twelve hours for them to fully dry out, so it’s best to leave them overnight.

What if I don’t have time to do this so regularly?
Spritzing daily with brush cleanser will help keep bacteria at bay after every use, as well as encouraging you to wipe away the majority of makeup as soon as you’ve finished your look. There are some great daily products, including Elf’s daily brush cleanser ($3.00), that will help tide you over if you’re prone to forgetting to invest in a deep cleanse. However, putting aside an hour every couple of weeks will be the best investment for both your skin and tools you can make – cleansing your brushes is almost as important as cleansing your face!

Do you commit to cleaning your makeup tools regularly, or are you guilty of leaving them to become a bacterial playground? Do you have any top tips to share for the perfect brush cleanse?

Features PR samples unless otherwise stated. To read my full disclaimer, click here.  




  1. Tiffany Legg
    June 3, 2015 / 10:03 am

    Great tips! Although I still hate cleaning my makeup brushes. x Tiffany Tales – A British Beauty & Lifestyle Blog

  2. Eve MacDonald
    June 3, 2015 / 10:50 am

    Love this post!I should admit I don't clean my brushes as often as I SHOULD, but I may just take your tip about the daily spritz idea. Saves time & sounds like a bargain to me!Eve xo

    • Hayley Carr
      June 3, 2015 / 8:34 pm

      It's a great way to keep on top of it so they don't get in a complete state. Even wiping with a baby wipe is a good way to reduce the build-up.

  3. Kiss & Make-up
    June 3, 2015 / 11:47 am

    I usually clean my brushes every Sunday. I hate it, but it's a chore that has to be done.

  4. All Hail The Nails
    June 3, 2015 / 12:06 pm

    Great tips! I'm going to try the lush bars for cleaning mine 🙂 I also use a brush egg (silicone mitt with ridges) to clean mine which speeds it up massively if you have a lot of brushes 🙂

    • Hayley Carr
      June 3, 2015 / 8:34 pm

      Oooh I haven't heard of a brush egg – will look into that!

  5. Emmys Beauty Cave
    June 3, 2015 / 1:20 pm

    I generally use baby shampoo as i find it works best to keep them soft xEmma | Emmys Blog

  6. Ashleigh Stevens
    June 3, 2015 / 2:25 pm

    I use whatever shower gel or shampoo I don't really like! At the moment it is Soap and Glory's Sugar Crush shower gel! Great post Hayley, I'm gonna look out for an inbetween cleaner now!The Life of Ashi

    • Hayley Carr
      June 3, 2015 / 8:35 pm

      Just be careful that you don't use overly fragranced products as this could irritate your skin/eyes! And glad it was helpful : )

  7. JaeyDa Robin
    June 3, 2015 / 9:10 pm

    I seriously hate cleaning my brushes but IT IS one of those things you know you have to grin n bare it…My poor hands have gotten crinkly from swirling in the middle of my hands so I have ordered a silicon pot holder (saw this from Queenii Rozenblad on YT) which works exactly as the Sigma Brush Cleaning Mat – it only cost me £2 BARGAIN so coupled with some olive oil and my natural shampoo I'm looking forward to washing my brushes this weekend…..NOT HAHA!!!Jo xxx(

  8. Avril
    June 4, 2015 / 12:56 pm

    I just use a simple organic shampoo, it works very well! Then, I apply a conditioner for the softness…

  9. em has red nails
    June 13, 2015 / 6:53 pm

    I like the idea of using Lush's solid shampoo bars, I might try that sometime Emma emhasrednails

  10. Blanche
    June 17, 2015 / 7:19 pm

    Another way to cleanse your make up brushes is with baking soda. Just leave them for one hour in a mixture of water and a spoon of baking soda. Then remove them from the water, drain and place in a cool place.

  11. Christie Garza
    October 20, 2015 / 2:15 pm

    Great article. I am going to try this brush cleaner. I should clean my brushes more often. I know that once per month is enough. Thank you for sharing your post. keep posting!

Leave a Reply


Looking for Something?