How To Wash Makeup Brushes

December 12, 2016

How To Wash Makeup Brushes | Stop breakouts from dirty brushes! | DIY Beauty Recipes

How To Wash Makeup Brushes | Stop breakouts from dirty brushes! | DIY Beauty Recipes

If you’re not sure how to wash your makeup brushes, then you’ve come to the right place!  It’s quick and simple to do, but often gets overlooked because life is busy and it’s easy to put off.

I’ll admit that I didn’t used to properly wash or care for my makeup brushes.  And I started breaking out because I was rubbing dirty, bacteria-filled brushes all over my face every day!  Gag.  Not long after my breakouts appeared, I happened to catch a quick Periscope by Classy Cosmetics (does anyone still use Periscope??) about washing makeup brushes and I immediately started cleaning mine regularly.  My dirty brush breakouts went away almost overnight!How To Wash Makeup Brushes | Stop breakouts from dirty brushes! | DIY Beauty Recipes

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But I don’t break out. Should I still wash my brushes?

    Yes! Here’s why:
  • to preserve the integrity of your brushes (over time the build-up can degrade the bristles)
  • to ensure proper makeup application (If your bristles are gunked up, they can’t do their job)
  • to keep skin clean (which prevents breakouts from dirty brushes)

How often should I wash my brushes?

The answer will vary depending on whom you ask.  Some experts say once a month.  Some say every 2 weeks.  Some say once a week, and some say every other day.  Many professional makeup artists wash them after each client.  And all of these answers are correct, depending on the person and circumstances.

You’ll develop your own preference for how often you like to clean your brushes.  I like to clean my wet makeup brushes (cream concealer, foundation, lip liner) twice a week.  I do my powder, eyeshadow, etc once a week.  This works well for me to feel like my makeup is applying correctly, and that my brushes aren’t full of bacteria and germs that could cause a breakout.

How To Wash Makeup Brushes | Stop breakouts from dirty brushes! | DIY Beauty RecipesBeing kind to your skin doesn’t start with clean makeup brushes alone.  You also want makeup that will be gentle to your skin.  I discovered this fabulous Mineral Fusion makeup from Whole Foods, and I love it!  It’s made with safe, quality ingredients and it isn’t made with any of the 400 unacceptable items that Whole Foods doesn’t allow in the products they carry.

How To Wash Makeup Brushes | Stop breakouts from dirty brushes! | DIY Beauty RecipesYou can check them out on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

The basics of brush washing are very simple.  I’ve shared the directions below, but I’ve also provided some videos and a link to photo tutorial, plus some DIY cleanser recipes if you want to go really in depth!

How To Wash Makeup Brushes

Basic Supplies:

  • Olive Oil and small container
  • Cleanser (several great suggestions below)
  • Clean Hand/Bath Towels
  • Paper Towels (optional)
  • Hair Conditioner (optional, if your cleanser is not conditioning)
  • Makeup Brush Cleaning Mat or Glove (optional)
  • Brush Guards (optional, but recommended)


  1. If you have brushes with gel or wax based makeup (like eyeliner or lipstick), pretreat with olive oil.  The oil will gently dissolve the makeup.  Dip the bristles in oil or pour some oil on a paper towel and swirl the bristles over the oil.  Swipe the bristles back and forth over a clean towel or paper towel until the color is removed.  Other oils may be used, such as almond or jojoba.
  2. Rinse bristles in lukewarm water, being careful not to get water up the ferrule (metal shaft) of the brush (water can compromise the glue holding the bristles, which can result in loose bristles).  Hot water may damage the bristles, so be sure to keep the water warm.
  3. Apply cleanser to bristles and swirl over your palm and/or closed fingers just above the palm, or over a textured makeup brush cleaning mat/glove.
  4. Optionally, if your cleanser is harsh or not conditioning, put a small amount of conditioner in your palm (as seen in the Makeup Geek video below) and swirl to distribute it throughout the bristles.  Rinse.
  5. Holding brush bristle-end down, gently squeeze bristles in a downward motion to remove excess water.
  6. Let brushes air dry.  There are several thoughts on the best way to dry makeup brushes.  I let the bristles hang over the edge of a counter top or folded towel, or hang the brushes bristle-side down.  [If you lay them flat on a towel without hanging over the edge, the bristles could mildew as they sit in excess moisture.  If you stand them bristle-end up in a jar, the moisture from the bristles can seep down into the ferrule (metal shaft) of the brush and compromise the glue, which will result in loose bristles.]
  7. For brushes that are prone to fraying around the edges (particularly natural hair brushes), you can place brush guards over them prior to drying to preserve their correct shape (see the Lauren Curtis video below).

How To Wash Makeup Brushes | Stop breakouts from dirty brushes! | DIY Beauty Recipes

Cleanser Options

How To Wash Makeup Brushes | Stop breakouts from dirty brushes! | DIY Beauty RecipesFor a natural DIY cleanser, check out this recipe from Live Simply.  For an antibacterial and sanitizing DIY makeup brush cleanser, see the recipe from Classy Cosmetics.  You can even use a bar of white soap like Dove, or a special makeup brush cleansing bar like Beautyblender Solid Blendercleanser (this is what I currently use).  I usually use two or three makeup brushes on a daily basis (I keep it really simple most of the time) so my cleansing bars last a looong time.

Helpful Tutorials

Photo Tutorial for cleaning Makeup Brushes

From Lauren Curtis ⬇︎

From Makeup Geek ⬇︎

If you’re using a high quality makeup like Mineral Fusion and keeping your brushes clean, your skin will stay happy and radiant!

For more easy and inexpensive ways to care for your skin, be sure to check out my Orange Mint Sugar Scrub to gently exfoliate your skin.Need a cheap, awesome scrub? This is it! Orange Mint Sugar Scrub is easy, fast & smells delicious!

And 3 ways to make an AMAZING bentonite clay face maskBentonite Clay Mask 3 Ways! This simple and inexpensive mud mask will be your new favorite way to pamper your delicate skin! | Beauty Recipe | All Natural

I am a Whole Foods Blogging Ambassador.  This post was written in exchange for a gift card to Whole Foods.  All opinions are my own.






By Becky

Becky is a mom to 4 kiddos and wife to an awesome guy. She's a food fanatic and loves creating and improving recipes. Bread is her weakness and delicious food is her passion!

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