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How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes

Updated on June 20, 2011
Eww dirty makeup brushes!
Eww dirty makeup brushes!

The most hygienic way to apply makeup is by using makeup brushes. However, makeup brushes require regular cleaning (I personally suggest cleaning your brushes at least once every other day depending on how often you use them). Cleaning your makeup brushes is not only very important to your health and well-being (unclean brushes can cause infections, acne, etc.) it also helps prolong the life of your makeup.

There are several ways in which you can wash makeup brushes. Some people chose to simply wash their brushes with soap and water. This may seem like a good, inexpensive way to clean makeup brushes, but it isn't. Over time the soap will destroy the brush hairs and you'll end up having to throw the brush out. There are also some people who buy very expensive brush cleaners to clean their brushes. Though these brush cleaners may work well they usually aren't very economical. The method in which you chose to clean your makeup brushes is your choice. However, I have found two particular cleaning methods that are not only inexpensive, but also very effective.

Method 1 ~ Dish Washing Soap and Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The first method I recommend to clean your makeup brushes requires dish washing soap and extra virgin olive oil. Both of these can be found at any grocery store (Walmart, Target, etc.) Any type of dish washing soap can be used as long as it's antibacterial.

Step 1 - Pour 1 tablespoon of your dish washing soap and one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in/on a clean bowl or plate.

Step 2 - Take a dirty makeup brush and wipe it back and forth in the mixture for a few seconds (Repeat this step for all of your dirty makeup brushes).

Step 3 - Now go to your sink and wipe your brushes back and forth on your hand under the water (use warm water) to get all of the mixture off. Make sure you keep the brush head down through this whole process as you don't want water to get trapped under the handle part of the brush (if water goes into the handle part of the brush it will loosen up the glue and cause the brush hairs to fall out).

Johnson's Baby Shampoo & MAC Brush Cleanser.
Johnson's Baby Shampoo & MAC Brush Cleanser.

Method 2 ~ Johnson's Baby Shampoo and MAC Brush Cleanser

The second method I recommend is slightly more pricey than the first method. However, it is also faster than the first method. The second method requires Johnson's baby shampoo, MAC brush cleanser, and a tiny spray bottle (I use a 3oz, but any size will do). Johnson's baby shampoo and a tiny spray bottle can usually be found at any dollar store or any grocery store. MAC brush cleanser is available from their website ( MAC is also always usually offering free shipping at any given time, so make sure you check Retail Me Not ( for a free shipping coupon code before you order the brush cleanser.

Step 1 - Place some of the MAC brush cleanser in the 3oz (or whatever size you have) spray bottle. Every day after you use your makeup brushes spray a few spritzes of MAC brush cleanser on them and wipe them back and forth on a towel. You do not need to use water at all.

Step 2 - Once a week pour some Johnson's baby shampoo on/in a clean plate or bowl and wipe your makeup brushes back and forth in it. Then proceed to go to your sink and wash your brushes off with warm water (remember to keep the brush head down at all times, you don't want water to drip into the part below the brush hairs since it will loosen the glue that holds the brush hairs to the brush and cause the brush hairs to fall out!).

Brush Guards.
Brush Guards.

How to Store Your Brushes After Washing Them

After washing your brushes they will need to be placed somewhere to dry. It is very important (as I mentioned several times above) not to let water seep into the part under the brush hairs, which means the brushes cannot be place on their sides or with the brush hairs facing upwards while they dry. The brushes need to be placed upside down to properly dry. The only effective way I've ever found to do this is by using Brush Guards. Brush Guards are stretchy white slip covers for your brushes. They are very sturdy and allow your brushes to stand upside down in a glass while drying (see photo below that illustrates how brushes should be dried with the help of Brush Guards). They also maintain the proper shape of brush hairs. Brush Guards are available from and

Illustration of how brushes should be dryed with the help of Brush Guards.
Illustration of how brushes should be dryed with the help of Brush Guards.


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      sam 5 years ago

      The product has good featues. Only have used the dry side of it so far. Certain health issues reqired me to get a good shaver and this one does the job.

    • My Nurse Says profile image

      My Nurse Says 5 years ago from Philippines

      Very informative... Thanks for sharing and it will definitely help a lot in keeping my makeup things clean and tidy!