Let’s Come Clean: Cleaning Your Beauty Tools

Admit it, ladies, you probably don’t clean your makeup brushes as much as you should. Lord knows I don’t! It’s a messy hassle that takes up counter space while your slew of brushes lie drying on your bathroom counter. So annoying.

Think about it, though, if you’re not cleaning your brushes frequently (we’ll get to how often in a minute), you’re going to be diminishing the quality of your makeup application and, even worse, you could be causing yourself breakouts! Imagine the time and money you spend trying to treat an unexpected breakout. Wouldn’t you just rather invest that time cleaning your brushes, as opposed to your face? I know I would.

So let’s get down to specifics. Optimally, you should be washing your brushes/sponges after every use. I know, I know. That’s not realistic. We barely have enough time to get ready in the morning, nevermind set aside time to wash our brushes. So, if you don’t have the luxury of washing your brushes every day, at least wash them once a week. Regardless of if you use your makeup brushes every day, you don’t want dirty makeup sitting on those bristles for longer than a week.

To wash your brushes, you can use a brush shampoo, such as ones sold by Sephora or MAC, or just a regular old shampoo will also do the trick. Rinse the brush or sponge in water, then put a little shampoo in the palm of your hand. Swirl the brush/sponge in the shampoo until you see a froth (squeeze sponges to make sure the soap gets deeper inside the sponger). Rinse. Repeat this until the water runs clear off of your tool.


If you don’t want to shampoo your brushes every day, you can at least spray your brushes with an antibacterial brush spray. Sephora sells a daily brush cleanser that’s great. After you use your brush, spray it with 3-4 squirts, and then swirl it around on a paper towel. This will help remove some of the product left behind and prevent bacterial buildup.

I will say, however, that brushes or sponges you use to apply liquid or cream formulas should be washed after every use. Don’t believe me? Try using it again. It’ll be crusty, gross, and you’ll have streaks. I guarantee it. Luckily, you’ll probably only have one or two tools you’ll need to wash every day. That’s pretty easy! FYI, you’ll also probably want to replace these a tad more frequently than the brushes for which you only use dry powders.

To dry them, gently squeeze the bristles in a towel to reshape the bristles as they normally appear. You can use your fingers after you’ve wrung out most of the water to further refine the shape. Then lay them flat on a clean, dry towel on a flat surface. DO NOT prop them upright, such as in a cup or jar. This will cause the remaining water in the brush head to flow down and settle into the base of the brush. It will loosen the glue holding the bristles, degrading the point of attachment and causing bristle fallout. Uh oh!

Not only does washing your tools prevent breakouts and improve the look of your makeup application, but it also extends the life of your tool. Natural hair brushes, if cleaned frequently, should last for several years (sometimes forever. Yep, forever). Synthetic brushes should last you several years but usually not as long as natural hair brushes. Be careful to note whether your brush is actually synthetic hair that meant to feel like natural hair. A lot of brushes these days are more cruelty-conscious and thus aren’t real animal hair. So you’ll need to replace these actually-synthetic-but-feels-natural brushes after several years.

Remember, you also need to clean your other tools, like eyelash curlers and tweezers. Those can harbor bacteria too! No one wants a nasty eye infection (cause if you get one, you’ll have to throw out all your contaminated makeup. Yikes!). So make sure to wipe these down with a little alcohol at least once a week.

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