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It has been driving me CRAZY on pinterest seeing links to people demonstrating the “right” way to clean makeup brushes. Many of them aren’t really ideal. Makeup brushes are often the largest investment of your entire makeup kit (with our brushes ranging anywhere from $10 for a spoolie to $75 for our huge fluffy bronzer brush, TRUST me, we know). So you want to take care of them and clean them in a way that will make them last you for years and years. One DIY blogger suggested combining dish soap with oil. The idea was that the oil would condition your brush bristles to keep them supple. While not a bad thought in theory…dawn dish soap is what they use to get oil off the sea creatures in oil spills! There’s no point in MIXING oil with a detergent that will remove it! It’s not doing anything for you in this instance. You won’t want to dip it in oil after either, because who (except for people with crocodile skin) wants to put straight oil on their face?

First, you will need to know the anatomy of your brushes.

It’s pretty basic. You have the bristles (these are obvious, right?), the handle (duh), and the ferrule is the thin metal band that wraps around the brush handle where the bristles are attached to it with adhesive. If you don’t clean your brushes properly (like one blog on pinterest that suggests SOAKING them in some kind of solution that immerses the ferrule in liquid) you will surely have a brush that sheds bristles all the time. It will leave those pesky hairs all over your face, and worse, will eventually shed to being half as full, or less, than it originally was.


We operate a fully functioning makeup boutique where we offer makeup services every day. We clean our brushes all day long between customers, and we clean our customer’s brushes they use at home FOR them, so you can trust we won’t lead you astray. Quality makeup brushes will last you years and years when taken care of properly. We have been around for 13 years (and counting) and this method has always worked for us!

We recommend WET WASHING your brushes at home at least once a month. Do it too much more often and they may wear out sooner than you would like. If you break out often, you may prefer to do it up to 2x a month to prevent spreading any bacteria around your face for an extended period of time.


  • A bar of gentle bar soap (or “milk” soap)- make sure it doesn’t leave a feeling of a residue on your skin when  you use it to wash hands–we don’t want a residue on the brushes


  • a dime to quarter sized amount of your current shampoo (if it’s gentle enough for the hair on your head, it’s gentle enough for your makeup brushes)


  • dawn (or a comparable dish liquid)


  • downy (or comparable liquid fabric softener)


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Start with your dirty brushes and a wash cloth. You could use a colored wash cloth so as not to stain it permanantly, but we like white because 1) You can bleach them, and 2) If there is still color in the brush, you will see that when you are drying it so you can wash it again!

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dampen the bristles of the brush under a faucet and swirl onto your soap. Work up a good lather. If your brushes are particularly dirty, you will see the lather turn a dirty color instead of white. Rinse the bristles under the faucet (be careful not to get near the base of the bristles too wet…it’s important that the adhesive doesn’t become loosened) Depending on how dirty your brush is, you may need to repeat this step two or three times. (Until the lather looks white, and if you blot the brush on a white towel, it doesn’t leave any color behind)

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Once you are able to get a white lather from the brush, and it blots clean on a towel, all you need to do is gently press out the excess water from the bristles with your hand or with the towel, reshape the brush head with your hand if necessary, and lay FLAT to dry. (this way just in case there is any remaining detergent in bristles, it will not loosen the adhesive keeping the bristles in place)

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For brushes that you use for liquids, creams, or anything with oil in it (think your lip brush, your concealer brush, your eyeshadow primer brush, your foundation brush), you may need the power of DAWN or another dish soap! Get a little bit out so you can swirl your brushes into it.


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repeat the same process as used with the bar soap above. Swirl to get color out and rinse. Blot gently on towel–if it colors the towel at all, REPEAT! Gently squeeze out excess water from bristle and reshape before laying flat to dry!


Use a sanitizing wipe (like clorox) and thoroughly wipe the ferrule and handle of each brush. If you swatch colors on your hands, or use fingers to blend concealer, foundation, or even shadows, you ARE getting product (and germs!) on your handles too!


If your bristles don’t feel soft anymore (maybe they were never soft to begin with) you can actually pour a little bit of DOWNY (or another liquid fabric softener) into a cup. JUST A LITTLE. Make sure it isn’t so much that it covers the ferrule, just the middle to ends of the bristles. Let it soak for 5-10 minutes then RINSE THOROUGHLY. Gently squeeze excess water from bristles, re-shape, and lay flat to dry! CAUTION: IF YOU HAVE VERY SENSITIVE SKIN, I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS STEP, BECAUSE EVEN THOUGH WE ARE THOROUGHLY RINSING AFTER, THE FABRIC SOFTENER RESIDUE MAY CAUSE A REACTION.

We recommend dry cleaning brushes if you are using one brush to switch from one color to another so you don’t accidentally combine colors you didn’t mean to. This is useful if you dabble back and forth among different shadows or blushes.


  • a clean towel
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    Cosmetic Brush Cleanser (We sell it for $15)
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First, try to get all the color you can off the brush by wiping the bristles on the towel. Once you think you have as much as you can get off at this point, continue to the next step.

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now spray 1 or 2 squirts of the brush cleaner directly onto the brush head (you don’t need too much) and repeat wiping the brush a clean part of the towel until you no longer see color come out of the brush. If the brush still has pigment, you may need to repeat this step OR wet wash the brush, let it dry, and use it tomorrow!

And there you have it! Cleaning your brushes really is simple and affordable. You’ve got to do it to keep them in the best condition to use. Your makeup is only as good as the tools you use to apply it. If you’ve invested in good makeup brushes, you WANT to take care of them! You’d be AMAZED at some of the brushes our clients bring to us to be washed. Some of them look like they haven’t been washed in years! (and some of them actually haven’t!). Even if you spent a modest amount on your brushes, clean brushes WILL give you a far prettier application and truer colors than dirty ones!