Three ways to clean your makeup brushes, and why you should do it
By Sophie Isbister, Columnist
If you’re a person who wears makeup and you currently wash your makeup brushes regularly, good for you! Read on anyway, because in this article I will outline a few budget-friendly ways to blast your brushes free of caked-on concealer, foundation, and powder. If you’re a makeup aficionado, and you don’t clean your brushes, please don’t feel bad about your failure to freshen up your arsenal; we’ve all been there. Nobody ever popped out of the womb knowing how to clean absolutely everything. We’re all in this together!
Brushes need to be washed regularly because they are used on the delicate skin of your face. Their dense bristles and fine hairs can harbour bacteria that, if not cleaned away, can sneak into your pores and cause breakouts. Most beauty experts recommend a quick clean of your brushes after each use, using a daily brush cleanser. Extra-gunky brushes or beauty blenders, like the kind you would use for liquid foundation, need a deep-cleaning once a week. All other brushes need a bi-monthly cleaning.
For this article, I tested three different cleaning methods using products found in the drugstore, or items I already had around the house. There is no need to break the bank on fancy silicon mats or drop $40 on an automatic brush-cleaner. Affordable and easy-to-find products will work just as well.
The first product I used was Quo’s spray-on brush cleanser. You use this product by wetting the bristles of your brush and then spraying the product onto the brush. Rub the brush into the palm of your hand to work up a lather, then rinse the brush clean under lukewarm water.
I find that I need to use a lot of this product to get the desired lather, and it is not particularly useful for my foundation brushes.
Solid cleansers are growing in popularity these days, so I picked up another Quo product to use for this article—the Gentle Goat-Milk Cleansing Balm, which is around $15 at the drugstore. You use them by simply wetting the brush, rubbing it on the balm until you see the dirt lift from the brush, and then rinsing the brush clean under water. You also need to rinse the surface of the balm clean so it’s ready for the next time you use it.
I loved the smell of this product, and found it was very effective at cleaning eyeshadow and blush brushes. It was more effective than the spray at cleaning my foundation brushes—but still not great.
I love DIY cleaning products, so when I read that people were cleaning their brushes with coconut oil and Dawn dish soap, I had to see what all the fuss was about. The concoction was easy enough to make: Grab a bowl and mix a tablespoon of coconut oil, a cup of water, and a squirt of Dawn dish soap (Dawn is recommended because it’s less abrasive than other detergents). Microwave the mixture for a minute or so, until the oil melts.
Once you have your DIY cleanser made, start giving your brushes a little bath in it. Swirl the bristles around, and then rub them gently as all the excess product squeezes out. Then rinse thoroughly under running water until the water runs clear.
This was by far my favourite method, and the only thing that got my foundation brush completely clean
As with all methods, once your brushes are clean, reshape the bristles, and place them on a hand towel to fully dry, preferably overnight.
I hope you learned a bit from this column, and happy cleaning! If you have any comments, questions, or ideas for topics you’d like to see covered in my cleaning column, email firstname.lastname@example.org.