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  • Writer's pictureMKleinmanartistry

How to: Properly clean your makeup brushes

Ok people. This is a topic near and dear to my little heart. Keeping your makeup brushes CLEAN and SANITARY! This is so important because you are putting them on your face, and if you are a fellow Makeup Artist, other people's faces. If you're like me, you've probably invested hundreds possibly even thousands of dollars into your makeup brush collection, and you want those puppies to last you for years to come. Keeping them clean and doing it the correct way is key in preserving their lifespan so they can be the gift that keeps on giving. Let me walk you through my personal and professional brush cleaning routines, so you can learn how to properly take care of your brush babies.

But first, here are some reasons why it's so important to keep them clean. I like to call this little acronym SAL (Sanitation, Application, Longevity.)

Sanitation: Even if they are your own brushes and you are only using them on yourself, so much acne causing bacteria builds up on those bristles if you don't wash them. Breaking out? Ask yourself how often you clean your brushes.

Application: Do you ever notice that your makeup application can get a little wonky as your brushes get more dirty? It's true! Clean brushes apply makeup more evenly and accurately. A smashed brush head with filthy bristles won't get you the results you're looking for, trust me. Longevity: The way you take care of your brushes depends on how long they will last. We all know these things aren't cheap so treat them nicely!

Personal brush cleaning routine

How often? Anywhere from weekly to twice monthly.

What do you use? my personal favorite: Lemon

How do you clean them? Ok! Now to the good stuff. You'll start with your dirty brushes, lukewarm water, your solid brush cleaner (my preferred one linked above) and an old hand towel. Pictured below is the anatomy of a makeup brush, so when I use technical terms you'll know what I'm talking about.

1. Take your brushes (one by one) and wet JUST the bristles. Getting water past the ferrule of the brush can cause shedding and the wood from the handle to expand and separate from the ferrule, causing your brush to come apart.

2. GENTLY (I stress this because I have witnessed people smashing their bristles into their cleaner or hand) swirl the wet bristles into your solid brush cleaner.

3. Work the cleaner filled bristles gently into your hand to make sure your bristles are fully coated with cleaner.

4. Rinse only the bristles under lukewarm water in the sink. Swirl them into your hand again while rinsing if you need to get excess product out of them. Even the most unruly products come out with my solid brush cleaner..I LOVE it!

5. Get the excess water out of the bristles by putting the bristles between your "sideways peace fingers" (two fingers you would make the peace sign with, but turned sideways) and putting pressure to almost ring the brush out. This step is important so the water doesn't creep up the ferrule while drying.

6. Lay your brushes flat to dry on an old hand towel, but always let the bristles hang over the side of the counter you're drying them on. This allows your brush head to re-shape correctly so one side isn't flat and the other is fluffy..see pictured below the right and wrong way to dry them. Let them dry fully overnight.

Left: Correct way Right: Incorrect way

7. Voila! You have clean, sanitary, fresh brushes that will last you many years when you treat them right! I've had some of my favorite brushes since I began doing makeup professionally almost 12 years ago! If you are throwing out brushes yearly, that should tell you something about how you are taking care of them.

Professional brush cleaning routine

How often? Spot cleaning in between clients AND deep clean every night after a job.

What do you use? For spot cleaning MAC Brush Cleanser linked below:

For deep cleaning/washing (same routine as personal brushes.)

I also like to put the MAC Brush Cleanser in 2oz spray bottles to conserve room in my kit. These are the ones I use:

How do you clean them? I'm going to share how I spot clean them, since my deep cleaning process is the same as above, but after each job instead of every week to two weeks. You'll need MAC Brush Cleanser or the brush cleanser of your choosing (I've tried a bunch and theirs is still my fave) paper towels, and a 2oz spray bottle.

1. Spray the MAC Brush Cleanser onto a small spot on your paper towel. I use about 3-4 sprays.

2. Take your brush and gently swirl it around in the cleanser taking care not to smash the bristles.

3. Wipe the excess cleaner off of the bristles using a clean paper towel downwards toward the head of the bristles.

4. You have a sanitized brush ready for the next client. This no-water method is quick way to sanitize in a pinch when you have more that one client in a day or appointment time. Major key during weddings!

In closing, I'd like to share some brush cleaning No No's.

DO NOT soak your brushes. This is the most common thing people tell me they do when they wash their brushes. The water will creep up the ferrule and expand the wood handle, and your brushes will suffer major consequences from soaking.

DO NOT blow dry your brushes. The harsh heat is bad for your bristles and will make them fuzzy (almost frizzy) and not perform correctly.

I know you're all wondering about these crazy contraptions for brush cleaning that you've seen all over the internet. Skip this hot mess. Anything that flattens my bristles out that much just to get them clean can't possibly be good for the integrity of my brush. HARD PASS.

Thank you so much for taking the time to educate yourself on the proper care of your brushes! I promise you you'll thank me later when your brushes aren't breaking your face out and have lasted you for years to come. If you have any great brush cleaning tips of your own, feel free to leave them in the comments!



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