How-to Clean your Makeup Brushes
Start by choosing either a mild shampoo or brush cleanser. There is a slew of brush cleansers designed with makeup in mind from just about every brand that also has brushes (and some that don’t!). You can also use a mild shampoo that’s designed for human hair as well. Either method works just as well–it depends on what you like.
Shampooing requires at least an eight hour window for drying (a little less for eye brushes, a little longer for denser, larger brushes); brush cleansers are often alcohol-based and can be used as a spot cleaner between applications or dry within minutes as opposed to hours.
If you use brush cleanser, read the instructions. I know, that sounds way too basic, and almost like a cop out, but brush cleansers vary in technique. Some brush cleansers require water, others don’t. For instance, Sephora’s Brush Shampoo works much like a shampoo and requires the same process, while on the other hand, shu uemura’s Brush Cleanser has you pour the brush cleanser into a small glass, swirl the brush in it, and then press the brushes against a towel to reshape. Often, an alcohol-based cleanser is a process that doesn’t need water and will also dry faster than cleansers that need water. Lay flat on a towel to dry. Always lay your brushes flat (or clothes-pin them so they hang with brushes pointed downward) to avoid water getting into the handle and ferrule (which can cause rust or deterioration of the brush).
If you use shampoo, begin by wetting the brush you want to clean with lukewarm water (never hot) and then dip in shampoo/cleanser. Brush the brush back and forth to absorb the shampoo and start to work up a lather/foam. With larger brushes (like for powder or blush), I also like to squirt a little shampoo into the center of the brush and really work up the lather. After you’ve worked the shampoo into the brush, gently run it under water and repeat the back and forth brushing motion until the water runs clean (and there are no signs of suds, either). Gently squeeze out any excess water and lay flat on a towel to dry. Always lay your brushes flat (or clothes-pin them so they hang with brushes pointed downward) to avoid water getting into the handle and ferrule (which can cause rust or deterioration of the brush).
If your brushes are incredibly dirty or stained, try using an oil-based product, either jojoba oil or a marketed “cleansing oil” (Bobbi Brown, MAC, and shu uemura all make one). Apply a little bit to the brush, swirl and work it in, and then add a bit of lukewarm water. Swirl some more, get a little lather going, and then rinse until the water runs clean.
Or if you’re more of a listener, here’s a video on how to clean your makeup brushes.
Find out about the basics of good brush care!