How To Clean Makeup Brushes

Wondering how to clean makeup brushes and how often you should be doing so? This helpful guide tells you everything you need to know.

Cleaning your makeup brushes regularly is essential. If your brushes are clogged with makeup, bacteria can easily spread which can lead to a range of skin conditions like acne, blackheads and general irritation. No thank you, darling!

Not only are clean makeup brushes vital for skin health, but they also make general makeup application so much smoother, helping you achieve a MAGICAL makeup look with a FLAWLESS-LOOKING finish. Plus, makeup brushes that are cleaned well last for longer, saving you money over time as you won’t need to regularly spend on replacements.

So how do you correctly clean your makeup brushes? And how often should you do so? If you’re wondering, ‘How do I clean my makeup brushes?’ and ‘How often should I clean my makeup brushes?’, read on to discover everything you need to know about keeping your makeup brushes clean, hygienic and in tip-top condition.

How to clean makeup brushes

Cleaning your makeup brushes is simple and straightforward so there’s no excuse to skip the task. Here’s Charlotte’s step-by-step guide to cleaning your makeup brushes…

STEP 1: Rinse the bristles. Put your brush under lukewarm water to remove any residual makeup. Take care to avoid getting the handle wet so that any glue holding the brush together doesn’t come loose over time.

STEP 2: Massage in the soap. Take your makeup brush cleanser or soap and gently rub it onto your hand or a brush-cleansing mat. Next, swirl the brush around in circular motions onto the cleanser, making sure that the brush doesn’t get soaked or saturated in too much cleanser.

STEP 3: Rinse the bristles clean. Once you’ve lathered up your makeup brush head, rinse it under the tap until the water runs clean. If the water doesn’t run clean, you may need to repeat the shampoo and rinse process.

STEP 4: Squeeze out the water. Using your hands or a clean and dry paper towel, gently press the bristles to release any excess moisture.

STEP 5: Let it dry. After you’ve squeezed out the excess moisture, lay your makeup brush flat on a clean towel overnight. Then, your brush will be ready for you to use again the next morning!

Short on time? You can give your brushes a speedy ‘once over’ with a quick spot clean. Simply dampen some kitchen roll in your chosen cleanser and gently swipe your brush over it until it stops leaving makeup residue. Your makeup brushes will still require that all-important deep clean at least once a week!

Tilbury Tip: Never leave your brushes upright in a container to dry. If you do, the water will run down the brushes and the glue that holds everything together will come loose over time.

Complete brush set packshot

How often should you clean your makeup brushes?

Darlings, the bottom line is that you can never clean your makeup brushes too often. In an ideal world, makeup brushes should be cleaned every time you use them. However, that’s probably not realistic for most of us. Here are Charlotte’s recommendations on how often to clean your makeup brushes…

Brushes with liquids: Daily

Brushes that are saturated with liquid makeup are a breeding ground for bacteria. Make sure to clean any brushes covered in liquid foundations, concealers and eyeshadows every time you use them.

Brushes with powders: 1-2 times a week

Powder-based makeup doesn’t facilitate bacteria growth as easily as liquid makeup so you can get away with washing your powder brushes less often. Still, they should be washed no less than once a week.

Sponges: Daily

Sponges soak up everything they come into contact with and that includes bacteria! Just like brushes saturated in liquid, makeup sponges should be cleaned after every single use.

Bronzer and Blusher close up

Even if your makeup brushes aren’t getting used every day, it’s important that they’re still regularly and correctly cleaned. If a brush is contaminated and left to sit out for a few days, the bacteria on them will flourish and your skin could suffer the consequences.

What to use to clean your makeup brushes

To clean your makeup brushes, all you need is water and a gentle soap or makeup brush cleanser. There are many specialist makeup brush cleansers available but if you don’t have one to hand, you can use a gentle liquid or bar soap, baby shampoo or even washing up liquid. Just be sure to steer clear of harsh formulas with dyes and fragrances as they can lead to skin irritation and discomfort. Be sure to thoroughly rinse out the soap before setting out to dry.

Tilbury Tip: Never share your makeup brushes with friends. It’s an easy way to spread skin infections and irritations.

How to know when it’s time to replace your makeup brushes

Darlings, while thorough and regular cleaning can lengthen the lifespan of your makeup brushes, there still comes a time when they need throwing away and replaced.

If the bristles on your brush are beginning to shed, fray or lose their shape and alignment, then it’s time to replace your makeup brush. When makeup brushes aren’t in tip-top condition, a flawless makeup application becomes much harder to achieve.

Luckily, Charlotte’s makeup brushes are designed for a long and vibrant life. The ICONIC Hollywood Complexion Brush is a 2-in-1 makeup brush that promises no hair fall-out, making it easier to carry out your regular clean and achieve a BEAUTIFUL makeup look.

Tilbury Tip: Darlings, nothing to do with makeup and beauty should ever feel like a chore! If you find yourself putting off cleaning your makeup brushes and not enjoying the process, make it a part of your evening beauty ritual one night a week. Then, both your skin and your makeup brushes can enjoy a pamper session together overnight!

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Author Details

Charlotte Tilbury

Founder, President, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of Charlotte Tilbury Beauty

With over 30 years experience, Charlotte Tilbury MBE is the world's number 1 makeup artist and British beauty entrepreneur. Charlotte established Charlotte Tilbury Beauty in 2013, which is now a record-breaking beauty brand that has won over 400 awards.

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