Once a month when I have an hour to spare, I make an effort to clean my makeup brushes. It’s not always the most fun thing I could be doing in my free time, but having clean brushes is not just important for your skin, it’s important to ensure your makeup is applied flawlessly. Also, having well kept up with brushes will extend the life of your stuff and when you’re paying up to $50 for a brush, you want to keep it in the best shape as possible. For a good deep cleaning you will need:
– A little towel/tea towel/absorbing piece of cloth of some kind
– Paper towel
– Bar of soap (more on this later)
– A bathroom/sink area
– A ton of hair ties
– Olive oil or argan oil
The picture above shows a little bit of my set up. On one side of my sink I have my towel and on the other I have all my dirty brushes sitting on a paper towel. They make not look dirty, but I promise you these things are icky. I spot clean my brushes after each use but once a month I like to give them a deep cleaning to kill any lingering bacteria and condition the bristles. By keeping the bristles conditioned you prevent breakage and falling out, leading to a more effective and long-lasting brush.
After I have everything set up in my little assembly line, I start actually washing the brushes. Since I like to wash mine in one big pile it can get pretty tedious and I tend to put in substantially less effort when I clean the ones towards the end. If you’re like me and you can predict this is going to happen to you, make sure to wash your biggest, dirtiest, and most used brushes first. I begin by running the brush under cold water keeping the bristles pointing down. This is important for a couple reasons:
1. Keeping the bristles pointed downward prevents water from getting into the barrel of the brush. The barrel is what holds the glue that keeps all the bristles bunched up together. As water gets in there, the glue slowly stops keeping the bristles together and you start to see all the little hairs falling out. By keeping the brush pointed downward you can wash the bristles without ever getting the barrel wet.
2. If for some reason you do end up getting some water in the barrel (and it will happen), the worst thing you can do is add hot water. Hot water ruins the glue in the barrel way faster than cold or cool water, leading to tons of bristles falling out.
I like to use a regular bar of body soap. I’ve seen lots of tutorials on how to clean brushes and a lot of people suggest using dish soap. I don’t really like using dish soap (though it does work if that’s the only thing you have) because it’s not as gentle as a bar of soap and dries the bristles out too much. I also prefer to use a bar of soap because I can really get every bristle clean by just moving the brush on the soap in a painting motion.
After I get the brush all soapy and rinsed out, I squeeze it a few times to make sure that the water runs clear. When you see the water running clear you know there is no makeup left on the brush and you can move on to the next one. Before I move on to my next brush I give each brush one final squeeze to make sure all extra water is out.
Slowly but surely you will start building your little pile of clean brushes. As you can see in the picture above, I try to lay as many brushes as possible with the bristles pointing down. Again, this ensures no leftover water lingers in the barrel. For the ones that this can’t be done to, I lay them on their side. I won’t be leaving them like this, so it’s okay to have them laying on their side for a little while – just long enough to get all my other brushes clean.
The last step is making sure that all of brushes dry correctly. There are apparently tools out there like brush holders specifically designed for this but I’m a firm believer of not buying tools specifically designed for just one thing. Instead I like to use a good ol’ ring of hair ties. These are cheap and multi-functional.
I use the bar/rack thingy for holding towels as my temporary brush holder. To hang them this way I loop the hair tie around the bar, pull it and then stick the brush in. I like to use newer hair ties for this since the elastic is tighter, and there’s less of a risk of my brushes getting dropped. The big brushes usually can be on their own loop, and little brushes get bunched up in sets of 3. I leave them this way overnight so that they can dry without having anything touching them. This makes sure that they don’t flatten out and that they’re completely dry. After about 8 hours of drying time I like to grab some olive oil and add a few drops to the back of my hand. Once the oil is rubbed in I run the brushes across my hand a few times to condition the bristles. If you use dish soap or shampoo you’re absolutely going to want to do this step since those products are extra-drying on your bristles.
And that’s it! I know it seems like a lot of work but I can’t stress enough how important it is to use clean tools when applying makeup.
What’s your technique to keeping your brushes clean? Let me know in the comments section below!