7 Tips to Clean & Sanitize your Makeup Brushes at Home

Image: © Leonid & Anna Dedukh / Fotolia

Researching among friends shows that there are those who religiously clean their makeup brushes and those who just hadn’t thought about it.  Guess what? Not only can the unwashed brushes harbor spot-causing bacteria but they can also affect the color of your makeup!


Makeup artist Bobbi Brown says, “For concealer and foundation brushes, (clean) at least once a week to prevent a buildup of product. And because these brushes are used on your face, the cleaner, the better. Brushes that are used around the eyes should be cleaned at least twice a month, while all others can be washed once a month.” So mark it on your calendars ladies and let’s see what the tricks of the trade are.


Cleaning your Makeup Brushes


Makeup sticks to your brushes making them stiff and reducing their effectiveness. Mix a very gentle liquid soap or baby shampoo with warm water in a small bowl. About ¼ soap to ¾ water is a good percentage. Hot water may damage the bristles and soften the glue.

Take each makeup brush and dip it in the soapy water until it is thoroughly wet. Avoid wetting the handle or the metal part throughout the process as the bristles may come unstuck. Take it out of the bowl (or the water will be dirty for the next brush and you’re going to get a lot of soap) and gently spread out and rub the bristles between your fingers so that the soap penetrates. Rinse under warm running water and repeat if necessary. Turn off the water in between brushes as an environmentally friendly gesture.

Sanitizing your Makeup Brushes

Now it’s time to get rid of any bacteria.

You can use a non-oily substance such as liquid aloe vera, vinegar (the smell goes away when dry) or use a commercial antiseptic product that is suitable for the body. Whichever you choose, dilute it in a little bowl. Add about 25% water to the natural products and follow the directions for the commercial product. Dip in your brushes one at a time, making sure that the bristles of each makeup brush are thoroughly wetted. Or you can add antibacterial face wash or tea tree oil to a new bowl of soapy water and repeat the cleaning process.

Either way lay the brushes across a mug or bowl so they don’t touch any other surfaces and the liquid doesn’t run into the brush handle. After five minutes, rinse thoroughly.

The handle itself can also be a source of germs, especially if you use it when you’re out and about. Pour a little surgical spirit (rubbing alcohol) onto a cotton pad and rub it over the handle to make sure it’s as sanitized as the bristles.

If a makeup brush tends to be stiff after washing, you can dip it into warm water into which you’ve mixed a tiny amount of hair conditioner before rinsing once again.

Drying your makeup brushes

Water dripping down into the metal shaft or wooden handle can loosen the bristles or encourage cracking. Avoid this by positioning the brushes at a suitable angle. It speeds up the drying if you wrap them in a clean dry towel and gently squeeze them. Re-shape the brushes and hang them over a table edge or bowl so that the bristles are fully exposed to the air. Rotate them occasionally. If the bristles don’t dry quickly, then the dampness can encourage bacteria to find their way again. Makeup brush bristles are sensitive and the direct heat from a hair drier or radiator may damage them.

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