How To Properly Care for & Clean Your Makeup Brushes

Having quality makeup brushes is a game changer when it comes to flawless-looking makeup.  If you don’t properly care for or clean your makeup brushes then this can actually affect how your makeup looks — and if you’ve heeded my advice and invested in quality then you know that they are not cheap, so you want those babies to last as long as they can.

Which means you’re probably finding yourself wondering how makeup artists clean and care for their professional makeup brushes.

And that’s what we’re going to go over today. I’m going to share how I keep both my personal and professional brushes in the best condition so that they are truly long-lasting.

There’s essentially two kinds of makeup brushes: synthetic and natural hair. In another post, “Your Roadmap to Choosing Better Makeup Brushes” I talked about the differences between the two different types of brushes and what they’re used for.

While the care is going to be similar, I have found that synthetic brushes tend to have a little more resilience. Which means that with your natural haired brushes you really want to be gentle with them and treat them really well, so that the brush hairs don’t get dried out & break.

When you take care of your brushes the right way you can expect them to last for a really really long time. At the time that I’m writing this I’ve had a majority of my brushes for more than 13 years and they pretty much look the way that they did when I first purchased them. AND I’m a professional makeup artist. So to say that I use them a lot feels like an understatement. LOL

How To Clean Makeup Brushes

There’s two ways to clean your brushes. But before I get into those let’s talk about how often you need to clean your brushes.

The truth is, you should be cleaning your brushes after every use. There’s really a plethora of reasons as to why. A few include:

  • Brushes can hold bacteria. That bacteria sits in the bristles and then gives you acne.
  • Skin irritation. Even if you don’t get acne, dirty brushes can irritate your skin and make your skin rough. If you want a better complexion, clean those brushes.
  • Clean brushes function better. Which means that you won’t get muddy-looking pigments & blending is a lot easier.
  • Bugs. Yep. In some cases, your dirty brushes can attract little insects which is gross I know.
  • Allowing your brushes to sit with dirt & natural oils from your skin or products can disintegrate the adhesive bonds that keep them on the handle. Not to mention that you can damage the cuticle of the bristles (causing roughness, dryness which equals breakage). While keeping them clean will keep those bristles shiny and intact.

But I totally understand that sometimes we get lazy and let brushes get dirty (I’m guilty of that with my personal makeup brushes). Just know that cleaning your brushes won’t hurt them (as long as you do it the right way), and there’s obviously pretty big benefits to keeping them clean. And at least commit to cleaning them weekly.

The “Deep Clean” for Your Makeup Brushes

The same way that your hair requires quality products to maintain shine, integrity, and moisture in order to avoid breakage, the same is true for your makeup brushes. The thing about makeup brushes is that if you damage the bristles with cheap products those won’t be growing back like the hair on your head.

So it’s super important to make sure that you are using professional and high quality products when you clean your brushes.

For this “deep clean” method, I typically recommend that you only do it a few times a year to recondition them and remove any potential residue that can sometimes happen with brush cleaners.

​The Steps for Deep Cleaning Your Makeup Brushes with Shampoo & Water:

  1. Fold a clean hand town in half and roll an end so that the brushes can dry at a slight angle.
  2. Put a tiny amount of professional shampoo (like a dime or nickel size) in the palm of your hand, wet the brush bristles (DO NOT get the ferrule wet), and gentle paint the brush back and forth in the shampoo on your hand. Try not to swirl natural haired brushes and instead use a pressured back and forth painting motion. You may need to use you fingers to get in-between the bristles on a fluffy brush.
  3. Angling the brush down (keep the ferrule out of the faucet water, and do not let water go down into it), use the same motions again under the running water to remove the shampoo.
  4. Repeat steps 2 & 3 with a professional conditioner (for natural hair or blended brushes only).
  5. Use the edge of the clean hand towel to press out any excess water. DO NOT twist or wring the brush bristles. Simple press the towel on the bristles to remove excess water.
  6. Use your hand to reshape the brush bristles so that it will dry into the proper shape.
  7. Lay the handle of the brush on the roll you created in step 1. Make sure that the angle is slight and not going to make your bristles dry with a bend in them.
  8. Allow the brushes to completely air dry, and then put them away.

For your purely synthetic brushes you can use a gentle basic soap if you’ve used a heavy cream product or something that is particularly greasy. Still follow the rules and keep the ferrule & handle out of the water.

Products for you to try:

*Some of these products are affiliate links, however, I only list products that I professionally recommend.

The Everyday Clean for Your Makeup Brushes

My go-to and absolute favorite way to clean brushes is with a professional makeup brush cleaner. Brush cleaners condition the bristles while cleaning and disinfecting them.

I personally use Cinema Secrets Brush Cleaner. It leaves a light vanilla scent on my brushes, keeps the bristles shiny and pretty well conditioned (like I mentioned before I use the deep clean method about once a year to make my brushes extra soft again).

The brush cleaner dries pretty fast, and as long as you remove an excess it does not leave a residue on your brushes.

​You can use a brush cleaner on any type of brush which makes things easy.

The Steps for Cleaning Your Makeup Brushes with a Brush Cleaner:

  1. Get a plastic container, glass bowl, or even a metal tin would work.
  2. Add a small amount into it. Remember, you do not want to add any used liquid back into the main container. So it’s better to put in too little and add more as you need.
  3. Use a folded paper towel or a clean microfiber towel.
  4. Dip the tip of the bristles into the brush cleaner. There is no reason to submerge all the bristles as they will already absorb a lot of liquid.
  5. In a sweeping back and forth motion wipe the brush on the towel. Continue wiping until no more pigment or “wetness” is coming off the bristles. If you need to dip again, do so. I typically do two dips per brush to ensure that all the pigment is gone.
  6. Once the brush is no longer putting out anymore pigment, use a dry part of the towel to press the bristles and remove any extra moisture. Never pull on the bristles.
  7. Use the rolled towel method from the deep clean instructions above. It’s of the utmost importance to keep the liquid from getting into the ferrule as it will loosen the glue that is holding the bristles to the brush.
  8. Once the brush is completely dry, you can put it away.

​Products for you to try:

*Some of these products are affiliate links, however, I only list products that I professionally recommend.

How to Care for & Store Your Makeup Brushes

Keeping your makeup brushes clean is only one part of taking care of your makeup brushes. The way that you store your brushes is equally as important.

You never want to keep your brushes somewhere where the bristles are being bent. So throwing them inside your makeup bag with everything else is a big no no.

You also need to be careful about stuffing too many in a cup, as this can cause them to lose their shape. (Brush shape is important for functionality.)

Additionally, storing brushes in your bathroom where they are going to be subject to humidity from the shower is not a good idea because this can make them subject to mold, bacteria, and even loosen the glue that holds the bristles in place. What’s more, is that if your brushes are kept in an open container less than 6 feet from the toilet, let’s just say that isn’t the most sanitary condition.

The absolute best way to store your makeup brushes is in a brush roll. The brush roll helps keep your brushes free from dust, helps the bristles maintain their shape, and helps protect them.

​Products for you to try:

*Some of these products are affiliate links, however, I only list products that I professionally recommend.


Keeping your makeup brushes clean & well cared for makes a difference for your complexion, the ease of application, and the longevity of your brushes.

Ideally, you need to clean your brushes after every use. If “laziness” tends to get the best of you, then at least commit to weekly cleaning.

There’s two ways that I recommend cleaning your brushes. One is more like a deep clean that I only recommend that you do a couple of times a year to really ensure that your brushes are clean and well-conditioned. You do this by using professional shampoo and conditioner with water.

The other way that I recommend that you clean your brushes with with a professional brush cleaner. This is for daily cleaning and can be used on any brush type.

Do you have any questions about cleaning your brushes or brush care? If so, put it in the comments below!

stay lovely. xoxo

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