How To Clean Your Makeup Brushes Properly

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Washing our makeup brushes and sponges is one of those tasks that is regularly added to the to-do list, but rarely gets ticked off. What’s the best way to clean makeup brushes at home? Should we use a specific soap or will Fairy Liquid suffice? Do you leave them to air-dry or blitz them with a hairdryer? There are plenty of questions surrounding the best way to clean our brushes, so we thought we’d ask the pros how they keep theirs soft and bacteria-free. 

Space NK’s senior pro-artist Arif Khan and celebrity makeup artist Emma White Turle reveal how they wash their brushes and answer our many questions…

How Often Should I Wash My Makeup Brushes?

We’re not going to pretend it’s the most enjoyable task, but washing your makeup brushes is essential. “The brushes in my kit bag get washed after every client for obvious reasons,” says Emma. “I also advocate washing your brushes at home after every use too. It is very time consuming and is annoying I know. But, this helps your makeup stay on for longer, and it helps keep your skin blemish free.”

The latter is an important point, especially if you use liquid or cream formulas and always apply your foundation with a brush. Oil, bacteria and dust can build-up between the bristles and is then transferred onto your skin when you apply your makeup. If you don’t already, we recommend washing your brushes as regularly as you can.

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Can I Use Shampoo To Wash My Makeup Brushes?

Google comes up with an array of suggestions when it comes to what you should use to wash your brushes. From warm water and gentle shampoo to washing-up liquid, there are quite a few options. 

“At work I use an alcohol based formula to clean the brushes in my kit bag as it’s the fastest way to get rid of bacteria and makeup and it dries quickly, but I use a gentle, organic shampoo for my stash at home,” says Emma. 

While Arif agrees that baby shampoo or a gentle formula can do the trick, but he prefers to opt for a specifically formulated cleanser. “I use the Beautyblender Solid Soap, it removes all traces of makeup from my Beautyblender and my brushes. Plus, it comes with a silicone pad, which helps to remove even the most stubborn stains,” says Arif. “And importantly, it doesn’t contain any harsh detergents and helps to lightly condition my brushes too.”

How Should I Clean My Brushes?

“Wet your brush with lukewarm water. Make sure the water isn’t too hot as this will ruin your brushes. Or too cold, as you won’t be able to thoroughly cleanse the bristles and get rid of the makeup build-up,” says Arif. Both Arif and Emma recommend swirling your brushes in the soapy water and gently pressing it down through your brushes to the tips, using your fingers. 

Rinse your brushes thoroughly until the warm water runs clear. “Make sure the brush has no soap residue as this will dry hard and your brush won’t be usable for the next morning – trust me I’ve done this plenty of times,” says Arif.

How Do I Stop The Bristles Falling Out Of My Brushes?

If you find your brush starts to shed bristles in the days after you’ve washed them, you might have damaged the glue holding them together. “When you’re washing, point the brushes downwards so the water runs through the tips rather than into the base,” directs Emma. “By avoiding the base you can help prevent the water from dissolving the glue that holds the bristles together.” 

She also has a trick for drying your brushes too. “Dry them flat, again this helps stop the water dissolving the base and it stops the bristles from shedding,” adds Emma.

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