Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Beauty Discovered

Makeup & Beauty Tips on How to Wash Your Makeup Brushes

Share your best tips and tricks for washing your makeup brushes!  Feel free to share your experiences, how you mastered techniques, or what you struggle with.

Temptalia’s Tips

  1. Always wash immediately after use if you’ve used a pigment that might stain (greens, reds, purples, blues, etc.) with a light or white-colored brush
  2. Never soak brushes in a bowl of water, because the water can get into the ferrule and cause rust and/or glue to breakdown
  3. Consider deep conditioning face brushes periodically

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48 thoughts on “How to Wash Your Makeup Brushes – Tips & Tricks

  1. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Julia Julia B.

    I wash my brushes every day. My synthetic brushes, like my RealTechnique brushes, get washed with antibacterial dish soap. I then dry them off a bit on a towel I use specifically for brushes and reshape them. With my natural brushes I use MAC brush cleaner on a washcloth. I then hang my brushes upside down overnight to dry. When I travel, I just use the MAC brush cleaner.

    I have tried combining a bit of olive oil with the dish soap, but I find it difficult to get all the oil off the brush.

  2. Suselew

    Sigma synthetic brushes are a royal pain to clean so much that I don’t use them as much as I would like because I despise cleaning them. I have to use an artists cleaner because any type of normal cleaning liquid fails miserably. I generally have to clean them three or four times. Sigma should make a brush cleaner just to handle their Sigmax line.

    • It’s the larger brush you have problem with right? For me I get them clean but they take a long time to dry. lol

    • Stella

      try mixing a drop of olive oil with whichever soap you use(i prefer baby shampoo or dish soap) you won’t believe how much make up is hidden especially in f80!!

    • Maren-Anne Melvik

      I used to get this problem aswell, but recently my boyfriend gave me a brush cleanser in the form of a bar soap, and I find it really helps. I rub the bigger brushes, like the flat top kabuki one, onto the soap (while wet), and it really lathers up all the way into the bristles. It’s actually white again! Just a tip :)

      • Suselew

        Thanks, everyone. I have several solid soaps, like Becca’s Brush Soap (not discontinued) and currently, The Master’s Brush Cleaner. Both are much better than any mild soap (I’ve tried a bunch of those) but still it’s an arduous and time-consuming endeavor. I’ll try Mac’s brush cleaner to see if that helps. I simply grab now the Real Techniques line because they clean up beautifully.

    • Annie

      Agree! It takes forever to clean all the gunk the rides up the bristles. I’ve used the MAC brush cleaner, soap, face wash, dishwashing liquid (only on the sigmax, never on real hair), and beauty blender cleanser. I’d say the best of the worst (for sigmax) would be the 1st dishwashing liquid and 2nd the beauty blender cleanser .

      Once a month, I dip the brushes in my ultra sonic machine (the home use ones that clean jewelry) for about 10 minutes, with the water level just covering the brush head. Cleaning them with dishwashing liquid first also helps! You can see all the foundation gunk particles floating up!!

      Last week, I was travelling and had to clean one of the Sigmax face brushes. I grabbed the wrong brush from home and the one I brought hadn’t been washed in 2 weeks! I tried the hotel soap and shampoo. It didn’t work that well. All I had left was my La Mer green gel cleanser. It was magical! One pump and a few swirls of the brush cleaned all the icky gunk inside / up the bristles immediately. Too bad the cleanser is soooo expensive.

  3. Janelle

    I have found that Johnson and Johnson baby shampoo rinses away with no reside and is very gentle to my brushes. Also, it is way cheaper than the majority of brush cleaners out there!

  4. I use baby shampoo for my brushes. I have tried many things over the years: blush cleaner, dish soap, olive oil. But baby shampoo works the best for me.

  5. Starfish

    I also use olive oil and dish soap to clean my brushes. It’s easy, cheap and works wonderfully. The olive oil helps condition the bristles and the soap cleans and sanitizes. Then I prop them up bristle-down on a rolled up towel and lay them out to dry overnight. Voila! I do procrastinate on cleaning my brushes- horrible habit. It’s just so tedious :/

  6. Yellowlantern

    1. I wet my brush (holding it bristles down to minimize the amount of water that gets into the ferrule).

    2. I put a dab of either gentle face wash or a moisturizing shampoo in the palm of my hand.

    3. I swirl the brush into the soap for a while.

    4. Rinse the soap out bristles down. This can take a while.

    5. Repeat if necessary (it usually isn’t, but occasionally it is.)

  7. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Anne Anne

    If you’re not keen on splurging on a brush cleaner (I know I’m not!), consider using baby shampoo. It’s very gentle (but I find it has a satisfying effect nonetheless so far), and a lot cheaper.
    Also: keep your brush upside down while rinsing them, to prevent the water from disturbing the glue.

  8. becca

    I wash my natural brushes with the same cleanser I use for my face, philosophy purity. It cleans natural bristles better than mac brush cleaner. It cleans them fast and rinses off clean and quickly, you only need a small amount. Purity also conditions the bristles without leaving any residue, it makes the bristles silky and shiny. to disinfect i just wipe the brushes on a towel that I dampen with alcohol.
    For my synthetic brushes I use the mac cleaner or sometimes antibacterial dish soap. I always put brush guards on all of my brushes after washing them, then put them in a cup to dry.

    • becca

      I forgot to mention I keep the bristles facing down during the whole process and keep water off the ferrule and handle. when i let them dry in the cup it is also with bristles facing down, the brush guards help you do this.

  9. What do you mean by deep conditioning?

    I always use baby shampoo to clean my brushes, never actual brush cleansing shampoos or anything. I often find them too aggressive.

  10. Thanks for the tips! I was wondering if you could clarify the third point on deep conditioning? Does that mean use conditioner on the brushes after you wash them?

  11. I started to use a rubber pet brush to help deep clean my brush this past month and I have not looked back.

    You can read about it here I you like. ;)
    http://www.warpaintandunicorns.com/2013/04/dupe-alternative-to-sigma-spa-brush.html

  12. I started with a small collection of Hakuhodo brushes late last year and I add a new brush every once in awhile spreading the cost out over time. So, I baby these babies!

    I think the key points with natural brush maintenance have already been well covered in other comments, but I want to stress that you shouldn’t smoosh your brushes around in your hand or on a tissue to clean them. Eeks, you will cause breakage and those formerly super soft fine tapered ends on the bristles will be gone, your brush will look like it has been sitting far too close to fire and you will find it begins to feel scratchy against your skin and your brush will be very very sadddd, but at least, I guess, it won’t smell..

    I also gently shake the excess out of my brushes before drying which helps should you have residual moisture in the ferule.

    • Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Amy xamyx

      Agreed, on both points. I place cleanser of choice in the palm of my hand, and run the bristles along the grain. If needed, I’ll gently work the cleanser through the bristles with my fingertips. Shaking out excess water not only helps them dry faster, it also keeps them fluffier.

    • Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Janette Janette

      i too have hakuhodos what brush cleaner do you use? I bought theirs but havent really washed them i just been wiping them on a towel because they dont recommend washing on the website. I was curious how you clean your hakuhodos,
      Im slowly buying mine and they do cost a fortune!

      • I use a very small amount of Bobbi Brown spritzer (daily cleanser) just to keep them fresh and exactly as Xamyx suggests I too follow the grain while cleansing. Then I use the MAC cleanser for the deep clean..but a really really small amount. I find the MAC cleanser leaves my brushes well conditioned and soft even in the winter months.

        I too noted Hakuhodo does not recommend brush cleaning which I confess just completely grosses me out. I’m sorry, but these brushes are being used on my face!!! I find leaving chemically laden product in my brushes contributes more to drying while also compromising their longevity, but that’s just my personal opinion.

        They are scary expensive, but worth every penny, huh? :D What’s your favourite brush? I have the S100 series (I love the red!) and mine is a tie between my angled finishing brush and the angle brush I use for eyebrows. Who would have thunk a change in eyebrow brush could make such a difference, but it does. The finishing brush just lighting works everything together. I love that.

  13. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Ellen Ellen

    I wash and condition my brushes as I do my hair – with gentle shampoo and conditioner. I’ve only recently started using conditioner, but it makes a big difference in terms of the softness and frizziness of the brush. I condition every other time, though, to avoid buildup.

    • Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Ellen Ellen

      Also, I just got a Benjabelle brush tree (the mini version) and it is great. I love that it holds so many brushes (it’s made for eyeshadow ones and ones with smaller handles, but some of my face brushes fit in it too) and keeps them upside down so water drips down (and dust has less time/opportunity to settle). Definitely a worthwhile investment for me.

      • Kelly B.

        Hi Ellen…I’m just getting back to look at answers and hope you check back. I’ve never seen the Benjabelle brush tree but am very interested in your opinion.

        Does it reduce the dry time of your brushes compared to lying them down (bristles angled downward) hanging over something?
        I always use brush guards and it maintains the shape but takes longer for them to dry…have you ever tried using brush guards with your Benjabelle and was the dry time still reduced? Hearing from someone with experience would be very helpful. Thanks!!!

  14. Mo

    One thing I do after washing my brushes is when I’ve gently squeezed all of the water out of my brushes, I lay them on a counter and let the bristles of the brushes hang over the edge. It helps them dry faster.

  15. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Meiya Meiya

    I either use Parian Spirit, or a solution like Sonia Kashuk’s/Ulta’s Brush Cleaner

    I’ll use Parian Spirit for brushes that need quick cleaning or are only lightly soiled (I’ll spray it on, and then rub the brush on a paper towel, then lay flat), or I’ll use it first to break down foundation on a brush.

    The other brush cleaner I’ll usually spray on a wet brush, massage out the makeup, rinse, and lay flat to dry.

    I wash my brushes generally every day. This method works for me; nothing’s ever stained my brushes, and they’re all in great condition.

  16. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Ivana Ivana

    Since I discovered Marseille soap for my brushes, I don´t need anything else. It´s pretty much the same product that is labeled as “brush soap” by different companies, but it´s so much cheaper yet it has the same cleansing effect as brush soap. Try it out!

  17. Linda

    I wash my brushes with a home-made brushcleanser. I got the recipe from EnKoreMakeup on Youtube. For my Sigma F82 and P82 I use Detol soap after every use. I try to wash my brushes every week. I have to say that I don’t use my brushes every day.

  18. Vic

    Usually I use a regular Lush soap which isn’t to moisturizing. It comes in a bar form so it’s great to swipe the brush on it and get the foam all the way up into the bristles.
    Then I swipe them on the palm of my hand to lather up. Some of my brushes don’t mind swirling and a little rugher handling but mostly I’m quite gentle.
    Afterwards I flush in looooooots of water (usually quite cold), squeeze them in a towel to remove water and shape and then I lie them out on a towel to dry. Sometimes they get treated to drying in a brush guard.

    For really stubborm make up, especially waterproof I first clean them with MAC Cleansing Oil on a dry brush (any watersoluble cleansing oil will do the trick), no problem wih rinsing out the oil and it can even handle Lip tars. After this the normal washing.

    On the go I use Backstage Brush Cleaner (german brand) or recently the BeautySoClean Brush Cleaner Special Edition smelling of Cupcake! :D

    Most important things for me: Be gentel wih you brushes (just as you are with your hair!) and never ever ever let water get into the ferrule!!!

  19. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Sabriel Sabriel

    I buy only synthetic brushes, and I clean them mostly with baby shampoo. I bought a small bottle of Johnson&Johnson in the “travel” section at Target for $1, and it has been lasting me quite a while.

    I angle the brush down and rinse it under a gentle stream of water from the faucet until runs clear.

    I use a coffee mug for my small brush collection, and when I need to dry a brush, I just set it down horizontally across the top of the mug. Since the handles are tapered, the brush will point slightly downward, and there’s good air circulation around the bristles.

    That only works if I’m drying 1 or 2 brushes. If I’m drying more than I get a towel and dry them on that.

    Not every time, but every once in a while, I clean the handles and the bristles with rubbing alcohol. This would kill natural hair bristles, which is why I buy synthetic.

    I tried hair conditioner on my brushes and it made them weird for a while. I think the conditioner might have had silicone in it? It left a residue that made it harder for to pick up powder. They were just too smooth. My UD eyeshadow brush is still not as good as it used to be. :(

  20. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Amy xamyx

    With brushes used for powder products, I spot-clean after *every* use. This may seem tedious, but aside from contaminating my products, it also makes deep-cleaning, which I do at *least* once a month (eye brushes get cleaned pretty much weekly) much easier & quicker.

    Brushes used for creams, liquids, & gels get washed *immediately* after each use. Again, it makes cleaning much easier. If, on the rare occasion, I don’t have time to actually wash them, I will use a spray brush cleanser, and deep-clean later that day.

    I use baby shampoo or anti-bacterial hand-soap to cleanse brushes, or a mixture of dish-soap & olive oil (equal parts) for deep cleaning. For spot-cleaning, I use a DIY brush cleaner I learned from Koren/Enkore on youtube, or I will occasionally pick up a DS one. Brush cleansers don’t need to be expensive to get the job done, and youtube is full of ideas.

  21. I wash my brushes with a mixture of 1 part anti-bacterial dish soap (I like Palmolive) and 1 part olive oil. The olive oil conditions :)

  22. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Melody melody

    How do you deep condition a brush? even a synthetic?

  23. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of rebecca blueraccoon

    I’m surprised no one’s mentioned Dr Bronner’s yet. It’s all I use on my brushes, natural or synthetic. Just a drop will do it because it’s concentrated–some people dilute it, but I just use one or two drops (I like Peppermint) and it lathers up really well, rinses clean, and then I stick my brushes in a Benjabelle brush tree to dry–if I don’t have room for the brush tree, I stick them over the edge of my sink so they’re slanted downward. I always hold my brushes so they’re pointing down when I wash them and I’m pretty gentle with lathering and rinsing the bristles.

    I spot clean with Sephora’s brush cleaner spray; just spritz a bit onto a paper towel or cotton round and lightly run the brush over the paper to draw out the product.

    Christine, can you recommend a good deep conditioner for brushes? Mine come out pretty soft after the Doc Bronner’s but I’d like to give conditioning them a try. But since I can’t find a decent one for *my* hair, I’m stuck on what to use for my brushes.

    • I use Aussie’s myself!

    • Kelly B.

      Hi. I haven’t seen the Benjabelle brush tree until I looked it up after reading your comment. Do you find your brushes dry faster when in the brush tree as compared to hanging over the edge of sink or something similar pointed downward?

      I always very gently shape bristles (also drawing out the excess water) and put a brush guard on them before lying down to dry…it keeps the shape of all of my brushes beautifully but seems to take longer to dry. I’m wondering if you’ve ever used brush guards while drying in your Benjabelle and if they still dry faster in the tree. I’m especially interested in reducing the dry time of larger face brushes. Thanks for any feedback!!!

  24. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Mariella Mariella

    I use a baby shampoo or some of my Pur Minerals Facial Cleanser (it’s great on brushes). I don’t wash them daily – I figure over-washing brushes is just as rough on them as over-washing your hair or clothing. I did try olive oil once on a MAC 217 brush and it nearly ruined the brush, which surprised me.

  25. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Michele Queentutt

    I would declare this from this highest mountain if I could…use Purity Made Simple facewash from Philosophy to clean AND condition your makeup brushes! It takes a small amount and really gets every speck of gunk out. No need to do 2 steps. Clean and condition at the same time. It’s all I ever use to deep clean. My brushes truly perform better after I wash them with the Purity :)

  26. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Maureen Grizzabella

    I cleanse eye brushes every time I use them. I just keep a Graftobian Menda Pump filled with Cinema Secrets brush cleaner on the counter… fast, easy and dries in minutes. For larger brushes, I use either the CS brush cleaner or Dr Bronner’s Magic Soap

  27. Does anyone has a recommendation for a good brush conditioner? I have acne-prone skin, and it’s a bit worrisome putting my usual silicone-based conditioner on my brush.

  28. Thiviya

    I’ve been using some of my makeup remover (or cleansing oil) on the dense brushes, and then cleaning that off with water and baby shampoo. I’ve tried olive oil before, but it’s almost impossible to remove it all, as it travels way deep into the bristles!

  29. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Sarah Sarah

    I spot clean them with MACs Brush Cleaner, in which I transferred the cleaner into a 2oz spray bottle. I spray the hairs and wipe it off on a dedicated washcloth. For in-depth cleanings, I use baby shampoo. I put a little bit of shampoo in my hand and turn the water to lukewarm. I swirl the brush head into the shampoo and water and wait for the water to run clear. Then, I squeeze out the excess water. When I have finished washing all my brushes, I grab the dedicated, stored near my brushes, toilet paper and pull off a couple squares. Then I wrap it around the handle and slide it over the brush head, which helps maintain the shape of the brush. I then invert my brushes, so fiber/hair side down into a glass, and with enough excess toilet paper at the tip so the brush heads are not touching the bottom of the glass. I do this so the water does not drip down into the ferule and slowly loosen the glue and hairs. By the end of the day they are cleaned and nicely shaped. For my large kabuki brush, I wrap extra toilet paper around it and then put it into the toilet paper cardboard tube. Again, to help keep its shape and so the hairs are not in contact with a surface while drying (only the tube is touching the counter). My brushes look brand new and hold their original shape with this method.

  30. Xina

    Does spraying on brush cleansers count as cleaning your brushes? I’ve heard some people refer to this as “spot cleaning” but I was under the impression this was the only way professionals clean their brushes because if you use water and a cleansing agent you’re putting your brushes at risk for getting water in the barrel and messing up the glue that holds the bristles in.

  31. Heather

    This is one of those hot button discussions amongst makeup artists. Everyone seems to have a way of cleaning their brushes and a tip here and there. I will say the best recommendation I ever got for my personal brush use/cleansing was NOT to use baby shampoo. Baby shampoo has such a high PH level that over time it will degrade the integrity of a natural hair or fiber brush. Dish soap also tends to do the same. Synthetic bristles are another story altogether. You don’t have to worry about the degradation over time with the synthetic hair or fibers.

    I always use a very emollient shampoo once a week to really deep cleanse my brushes and always make sure they are drying either flat or brush down so that water does not run into the ferrel and ruin the brush attachment. Cleanse Off oils are great to use on your personal brushes because they really breakdown stuck in products like foundations or cream blushes, but you must rinse very well and then shampoo.

    When I have been on-set it was a standard to wash brushes with a spray brush cleanser, but also was required to spray brushes with alcohol after as well. Needless to say that pros tend to go through a lot of brushes over time when they are using them on multiple clients and cleaning to standards.

  32. SarahKita

    I need to say that baby shampoo or even the cheaper brush shampoos (like ELF) are no replacement for a proper brush cleaner. When you take a proper brush cleaner to your brushes after having just cleaned in this way, you will be amazed how much product and dirt comes out! And how much nicer your brushes feel. I use the Strictly Professional brush cleaner. Especially for my foundation brush, I would not ever go with shampoos alone.