Monday, March 9th, 2009

5 Tips to Keep Your Brushes In Top Shape

We just told you our essential eye and face brushes, and once you make the investment in high end, high quality brushes, you have to make sure you take care of them.

Brushes should, and will, last you many, many years if you take care of them properly. I have seen artists with brushes that are ten years old that look absolutely pristine when they are meticulously cared for!

Clean your brushes regularly. Whether you use baby shampoo or MAC’s Brush Cleanser ($11.00), it is imperative you make a point to clean the accumulated gunk out of your brushes. This is not only good hygeine (for you, your skin, etc.), but it keeps your brushes in good shape.

Always reshape your brushes while wet. Once you’ve washed your brushes, make sure you reshape them before they dry. Whatever shape your brushes are left in to dry is the same shape they will be when they are dry. You don’t want your contour brush looking like a tapered blush brush, do you? Similarly, if the shape is off, wetting/washing your brush will allow you to reshape a brush.

Never stand your brushes up to dry. You do not want to let in water or dampness into the ferrule portion of the brush (the metal part, right above the brush head), because it can weaken, errode, or loosen the ferrule making your brush wobbly. Always lay your blushes flat on an absorbent surface (like a wash cloth or towel–probably one dark in color!), and if you can manage it, turn your brushes after an hour or two.

Condition your brushes regularly. On top of cleaning, condition your brush with a quality hair conditioner will help keep the bristles soft. It’s not something that needs to be done as often general washing, but it is a good idea to do it often enough–like once a month. Mostly, it depends on how often you use and wash your brushes.

Wash brushes right away when using rich colors. It’s easy to stain a white-haired brush if you’re using a richly colored product, like Ruby Red pigment or True Chartreuse pigment. I remember using Flammable paint once, and it has forever-stained my 252 brush. One quick and dirty way to help minimize staining is to run the brush back and forth over a makeup remover wipe.

Share your own tips to keep your brushes in tip-top shape in the comments section!

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35 thoughts on “5 Makeup Tips on How to Clean Makeup Brushes

  1. Macaddict

    I agree with all of the above; very good advice! But I have a question about conditioning the brushes. I never heard of it but am interested to do it. What kind of product does one use and what is the process to do so? Thanx in advance.

    • I just use a conditioner that I have on hand for hair. I like it because I feel like it helps to soften my brushes a bit, especially the animal hair ones. I also use clarifying shampoo from time to time to get rid of any build-up (like on brushes used with liquid or cream products)!

  2. Hermana —- this is one of the MUSTs in my life. After all, we invest in good brushes and good makeup:the least we can do is keep them in the best of shapes!!!
    thanks for the post!

  3. love the post – i usually leave my brushes standing up… now i know what i’ve been doing wrong! (though my brushes have been kind to me)

  4. rayne

    I totally agree with the last one. I used carbon one day last week & forgot about cleaning it until last night. :( Thank god my brushes are white/lightly coloured, but you can still see some carbon left.

  5. IZzySA

    Thanks and amen to all the above…I wash my brushes with love and However I always put them on the side of my vanity so that the head hangs over and air dries. I do find that pigments are particularly problematic. They have even stained my sin and towels.

  6. IZzySA

    *skin.. lol. My head is not on brushes obviously:D

  7. Sally

    Good tips! But do we have to condition synthetic haired brushes?

  8. Good tips..I just did this last night….

  9. Kacie

    It makes me so damn sad that my 239 is stained teal forever now, LOL. Oh well, I’m gonna get a new one soon.

  10. Arika BH

    Im OCD about cleaning my makeup brushes. Shampooing them weekly is my Sunday night ritual. I lay them out on my table to dry over night. I spot clean them with mAC Brush Cleaner after every use. MACs Brush Cleaner is the best.

  11. sprut

    I know if you take good care of your brushes and they are high quality than they can last a long time but if you don’t do those things how do you know when your brushes have had it and need to be tossed?

    • Whenever your brushes no longer do what they used to do for you! Like if it’s constantly shedding, loses its shape, the density is no longer there, etc.

  12. Claire

    I clean my brushes religiously – especially my foundation brushes. When they are really badly stained by some long lasting foundation (e.g. EL Double Wear) I use my Clinique Rinse Off Foaming Cleanser to wash them. It’s getting rid of all the residue – better then any brush cleanser. I’ve been doing this for years and my brushes are as good as new.

  13. Good post! I spot clean after every use, and every 1-2 weeks i shampoo and condition them. I spot clean with mac’s brush cleaner, in a spray bottle, because I feel that saves the product from dripping and wasting it. and I also mix it with water, just because I’ve read horror stories about the brush cleanser trying out some people’s brushes, causing the hairs to break off, or the hair to dry out like crazy, and never be the same shape again. It works just as well with water in it 😀

  14. I use Bobbi Brown Conditioning Brush Cleaner to clean my brushes… cleans and conditions at the same time!! However, I do work at a CCO and get a discount. No way would I actually go to a BB counter and pay full price for it LOL.

  15. LLuvia

    Hi Christine! I got a Question for you :)How often I have to clean my 182 buffer blush??… this brush have an special way to clean it? :( please I need some help! Because I cleaned it yesterday with Johnson’s Baby Shampoo and… I don’t know… its feels soooo soft… extremely soft… and I feel that don’t buffer my makeup the same that it used to…so… :( please.. I need some help!

    Nice Post! thank you! and HELLO FROM MEXICO!

    • I wash mine after every 1-2 uses, actually. This is usually a week in time, but I go by how often I use a brush. I wash all my face brushes pretty religiously, just because I’m acne-prone, so I have to take all the preventative measures I can.

      I use the same method as with other brushes, and then I lay it on its side to dry. That’s it for me!

  16. Nicole

    Is it okay to leave brushes upside down (the bristles facing down) to dry? Also, can you recommend a conditioner to condition brushes? Thanks =).

    • Are the bristles getting pushed/bent in a way? I’d imagine it might just make it harder to retain the shape.

      • Nicole

        Sorry I forgot to mention that i tied them to a lamp that has a long thin stand. So they’re pretty much hanging on a pole with the bristles not touching anything.

        • Nicole

          Oops I just read from the first comment which conditioner you use to condition your brushes. Sorry for missing that =\.

          • Christine

            Thanks for this post, very helpful! I’m glad I’m not the only Type A, anal-retentive person about cleaning brushes. :-) The Bobbi Brown brushes have been the best I’ve used so far, they stay in great shape even after all the washings I’ve given them!