We paint, contour, and flush our faces with makeup brushes every day, but how often are those brushes being cleaned after the fact? Turns out, not enough. (Shocker.) According to dermatologists and makeup artists, we should be sudsing up our tools on a weekly basis — at least — in order to prevent bacteria buildup, which can ultimately led to unwanted breakouts. Read on to find out how to clean up your makeup brushes the right way.
First of all, how often should you clean your makeup brushes?
Most dermatologists will tell you to soak your tools, especially foundation and concealer brushes, once a week — at minimum — to prevent product buildup. Because these brushes are used on your face, the cleaner, the better, says Bobbi Brown. “Brushes that are used around the eyes should be cleaned at least twice a month,” she says. “All others can be washed once a month.”
According to makeup artist Ashleigh Ciucci, soaping up your makeup brushes regularly can extend the life of the bristles and make for a better makeup application. “Brush hairs and sponges are porous, so they hold onto oils, debris, and bacteria,” she says. “If your brushes are dirty, your application will be spotty and blending will be difficult.”
What should you use to clean your makeup brushes?
The best (and most thorough) method for cleaning your tools requires only water and either a gentle soap (regular soap formulas can dry out the brush’s bristles, especially if they are made of natural hair) or brush cleanser. (Easy, peasy.)
How do you actually clean the brushes?
Follow these seven steps for a cleaner, good-as-new brushes, and blenders.
- Wet the bristles with lukewarm water.
- Place a drop of makeup brush cleanser or soap into the palm of your hand.
- Gently massage the tips of the bristles in your palm.
- Rinse the bristles.
- Squeeze out the excess moisture with a clean towel.
- Reshape the brush head.
- Let the brush dry with its bristles hanging off the edge of a counter, thereby allowing it to dry in the correct shape. Never let your brushes dry on a towel — the bristles can become mildewed.
Mid-wash, keep the base of the brush head away from soap and water. The bristles are glued to the base, and water and detergent can cause the glue to disintegrate and the bristles to come loose and shed. Do not dry vertically — this will cause water to leak into the ferrule [the piece that joins the bristles to the wand], which will also loosen the glue and lead to bristle loss.
Just like you brush your teeth, take a shower, and look after yourself, taking care of your makeup brushes is that basic a step. They’re a breeding ground for dirt and spot-inducing bacteria. I know every one of us is guilty of neglecting our beloved brushes at some point and not taking the time out to get the gunk off of them! I know I am. However, I’m done with skipping the regular cleanups. I tried some of the most incredible makeup brush cleaners and you should too! It’s time you make cleaning your brushes a part of your beauty routine.
Top Makeup Brush Cleaners That You Should Try
- Sigma Beauty Sigmagic Brushampoo
- e.l.f Daily Brush Cleaner
- Makeup For Ever Instant Brush Cleaner
- Sephora Collection Purifying Brush Shampoo
- Real Techniques Brush Cleansing Palette
- Bobbi Brown Conditioning Brush Cleaner
- Clinique Makeup Brush Cleanser
- M.A.C Brush Cleanser
Sigma Beauty Sigmagic Brushampoo
- Great packaging
- Gentle on the brushes
- Easy to use
- 100% natural and free of parabens, sulfates, and fragrance
- Takes a good amount of product to clean
Sigma Beauty Sigmagic Brushampoo Review
This brush cleaner by Sigma comes in a sleek, white bottle with a pump applicator that prevents spills and wastage. It comes out like a light liquid with a foamy texture. It contains ethically sourced ingredients like virgin coconut and palm oil, but it’s not sticky or heavy. It also happens to be antimicrobial, so if you’re a germaphobe, this is perfect for you. Also, it cleans your brushes very gently and does not ruin the shape or the softness of your brushes. I was also impressed by how affordable this product is and how quick of a solution it is for my dirty brushes. Do give this a shot!
e.l.f Daily Brush Cleaner
- Easy to use
- Compact and great design
- Effectively removes dirt and grime
- Contains added fragrance
e.l.f Daily Brush Cleaner Review
The e.l.f. Cosmetics Daily Brush Cleaner is great for quick cleaning in-between makeup applications. This cruelty-free and vegan spray helps provide a fresh and clean brush application each time. However, this is not meant for deep cleaning. You can use it on a daily basis and even when you want to switch colors on your brushes. This does an incredible job of spot cleaning! It’s also great to travel with as the bottle has an impressive leak-proof design.
Make Up For Ever Instant Brush Cleaner
- Odorless formula
- Dissolves even waterproof and high pigment products
- The packaging is slightly problematic
Make Up For Ever Instant Brush Cleaner Review
This Instant Brush Cleaner from Make Up For Ever quickly cleans your brushes without rinsing and dries on the spot so that brushes are ready for immediate reuse. This is not one of those cleaners meant for deep cleaning in any way. It’s a handy way to clean and remove dirt and color from your brushes. You can incorporate this into your daily brush cleaning routine for healthy skin and a flawless makeup application.
Sephora Collection Purifying Brush Shampoo
- User-friendly packaging
- Easily removes the product from brushes
- Gentle on bristles
- Does not dry quickly
Sephora Collection Purifying Brush Shampoo Review
This is a great drugstore option for a makeup brush cleaner. It’s affordable and does a great job with only a few sprays. It’s also gentle on the brushes and removes most of the makeup quickly. I am also quite fond of its smell, texture, and consistency. My brushes never shed bristles when I clean them using this product. Definitely give this a try!
Real Techniques Brush Cleansing Palette
- Stiff bristles
- Bowl shape with edges helps avoid water dripping from its sides
- Easy to clean and store
- Its grip can get slippery
Real Techniques Brush Cleansing Palette Review
The Real Techniques brush cleaning palette comes with two sample sachets of its Brush Cleaning Gel. It’s really easy to use, and I strongly feel that this has made cleaning my brushes a much quicker and simpler task. If you are looking to deep clean or thoroughly clean out dirt and grime from your brushes, just give this a go (accompanied with some shampoo or brush cleaning gel) and you won’t be disappointed. Also, this is a great value for money.
Bobbi Brown Conditioning Brush Cleaner
- Safe and gentle
- Does not damage brushes
- Easy to use
- Does not leave a residue
Bobbi Brown Conditioning Brush Cleaner Review
Bobbi Brown’s Conditioning Brush Cleaner is one of my favorites! Anyone who wants their brushes to last long in great condition must check this product out. You only need to rub a small amount of the cleaner on your brush, and the makeup just melts right off. It also softens the bristles of your brushes. It also has a pleasant, subtle fragrance that leaves your brush feeling brand new!
Clinique Makeup Brush Cleanser
- Easy to use
- Soft and gentle on your brushes
- Slightly pricey
Clinique Makeup Brush Cleanser Review
This makeup brush cleanser from Clinique thoroughly cleanses brushes and removes makeup residue build-up. It keeps the bristles of the brushes in optimal condition and is great for deep cleaning. The makeup just melts out of the brushes, leaving them squeaky clean. It’s gentle enough for weekly deep cleaning for your high-end brushes. I highly recommend trying this cleanser!
M.A.C Brush Cleanser
- Easy to use
- Lightweight and gentle
- Leaves no residue
- No fragrance
- Watery consistency, which leads to wastage
M.A.C Brush Cleanser Review
This cleanser by M.A.C is very effective for those in-between deep cleanings. It removes every last bit of product, dirt, and other substances from your brushes to return to you, clean, pristine brushes. The only issue I have with it is its terrible packaging. It does not have a pump or spray, and the lid on the bottle leads to sheer wastage of cleanser. Besides that, I like the way my brushes feel after using this. Do try it!
How To Choose The Best Makeup Brush Cleaner? – Quick Tips
Now that you have a bunch of effective options to choose from, let me give you a few tips on what to keep in mind before you pick a makeup brush cleaner.
- Since brushes are usually very expensive, pick something gentle. Your makeup brush cleaner should form really gentle foam to clean away dirt and residue.
- Use a cleaning pad along with your cleanser so you can scrub your makeup brush on the mat and get into some deep cleaning.
- Your makeup brush cleaner should be easy to rinse off because if it leaves any residue on the brush, it may just accumulate more dirt.
- Make sure you purchase a travel-friendly cleaner because if you’re likely to take your makeup brushes with you, it should be convenient to store and carry as well.
There are so many options to instantly freshen up your brushes and keep them clean. I can guarantee that this tiny step will have a tremendous impact on the overall health and appearance of your skin. That was my roundup of the 15 best makeup brush cleaners in the market. Let me know what’s your favorite product that you use to clean your brushes in the comments!