The Dirt on Cleaning Your Makeup Brushes

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The Dirt on Cleaning Your Makeup Brushes
Leigh Green/Demand Media

A set of artfully arranged brushes caked with remnants of makeup will kill the aesthetic of even the most beautiful display of makeup products. Without regular cleaning, makeup brushes can become a breeding ground for bacteria and, consequently, cause nasty breakouts. "We should all thoroughly clean our brushes once a week," advised Janeena Billera, national makeup artist for glo minerals. With proper cleansing, a set of great makeup brushes can last for a lifetime of flawless, bacteria-free makeup application.

Wet Your Brushes
Leigh Green/Demand Media

Wet Your Brushes

Gather your brushes and run them under lukewarm water with the brush head facing downward. "It is very important that the brush head is facing down so water does not get into the ferrule, the metal band that binds the bristles of a brush to the handle," said Billera. Over time, water can loosen the glue that holds the brush together.

Janeena Billera, National Makeup Artist for glo minerals

Apply Cleanser
Leigh Green/Demand Media

Apply Cleanser

Once brushes are thoroughly moistened, apply a small drop of mild shampoo to the bristles on each brush. Billera recommends baby shampoo because it's gentle and doesn't have a strong fragrance.

Lather
Leigh Green/Demand Media

Lather

"Create a lather by swirling the brushes against the palm of your hand," instructed Billera. Make sure you reach all the bristles, not just those on the outside. You can also use clean fingers to massage the soap into the entire brush.

Rinse
Leigh Green/Demand Media

Rinse

With your brush heads facing downward again, rinse the bristles thoroughly under lukewarm water. Continue rinsing until there are no traces of soap or residue left -- just as you'd wash your own hair.

Pat Dry
Leigh Green/Demand Media

Pat Dry

"After all your brushes are rinsed, use a clean towel to pat dry them," said Billera. You can gently press the bristles between a towel to soak up excess moisture. It's important to pat them dry as soon as they're completely rinsed. Never let your brushes soak in water as this will make them fall apart.

Reshape Brushes and Dry
Leigh Green/Demand Media

Reshape Brushes and Dry

Once you've finished patting dry, reshape the brush heads and lay them down on a clean, dry towel for six to eight hours. "Do not put brushes right-side up in a cup or blow-dry them," noted Billera. Laying them flat helps them maintain their original shape and keeps water out of the ferrules.

Daily Spray Cleansing
Leigh Green/Demand Media

Daily Spray Cleansing

In addition to a weekly deep cleaning, you can perform a daily cleanse on each of your brushes with a water-free cleanser, available in cosmetic stores and online. "Just spray a couple of spritzes on a tissue and swirl the brush gently until there is no longer residue," advised MLR makeup artist Kelly Morezak. "A lot of brush cleansers are anti-bacterial, which is great if you have acne-prone skin. Talk about the easiest way to prevent pimples!"

Kelly Morezak, MLR makeup artist

Conditioning Synthetic Brushes
Leigh Green/Demand Media

Conditioning Synthetic Brushes

"Synthetic brushes tend to get hard over time," noted Morezak. "Every other cleaning, I use a hair conditioner on them." She recommends selecting a conditioner with as little scent as possible. Follow the same steps you use when shampooing your brushes.

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