Clean your makeup brushes in 5 minutes (+ why you should!)

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Here’s a question for you: when was the last time you washed your makeup brushes? Fess up! Tell me in the comments if you’re brave! 😉

I am serious about taking good care of my skin (see my skincare routine here) and washing my makeup brushes is a large part of this since they can get pretty nasty. Today I’m sharing how I clean my makeup brushes and how often! It takes 5, maybe 10 minutes. It’s not hard — other than remembering to do it. And I have a hack for that too!

clean makeup brushes

Why should I wash my makeup brushes

If you don’t clean them often, they can become FULL of bacteria from your skin, makeup bag, house and air. I mean, some bacteria is fine and is on everything in life. But, you don’t want it to build up over time. You stick that stuff on your face and then back on your makeup and then back to your face. That’s a gross cycle.

If you suffer from breakouts, this might even be one of the causes, or at least a reason your breakouts don’t clear as quickly as you want. This is me, completely make-up and breakout free, which I give credit to a solid skincare and makeup routine — and that includes clean brushes!

beautycounter skin care after

Another reason to wash your brushes is that the more product build-up on the brush, the more likely you are to cause damage to your skin. Skin is super sensitive, especially on your face! If your brush is caked with makeup and not soft, you can cause more damage than you think, which can lead to irritation and dryness. It can also make your powders look nasty when you transfer oil from your skin to your makeup. 

How often should I clean my makeup brushes?

I try to do this monthly, but have goals to wash them even more often, particularly the ones that get the most use on larger areas of my face. Below are my general guidelines/goals; I think of it as liquids vs powders:

  • Foundation & concealer brushes: once a week!
  • Eyeshadow, blush, and bronzer brushes: 1-2x a month

Liquid products build up on brushes more easily which is why you should wash them more. But, if you’re washing those anyway, just wash them all! It takes just a few minutes – the key is remembering to do it! Set a reminder in your phone or do it whenever you replace the toilet paper or something! Just something to trigger a reminder.

How should I clean my makeup brushes

I use the Beautycounter Charcoal Bar as the cleanser (more on that below!). Here are the steps I follow to wash my makeup brushes. It’s so simple but I get asked about it a lot so it must not be super intuitive.

  • Wet your brush with warm water and rinse as much product out as you can with water. Try not to get water on the handle of your brushes but focus just on wetting the bristles
  • Then, swirl the brush head all over the bar of soap and then swirl it in the palm of your hand until it starts to lather
  • Rinse and repeat this process until the water runs clear and the soap is no longer the color of the residue from my makeup
  • Squeeze the excess water out of the brushes. Use a towel for a second squeeze to get out even more water, but don’t pull on the bristles!
  • Lay flat to dry; NEVER let them dry standing up or down. More on that below!

So simple and SO effective!


What should I use to clean my makeup brushes?

I use Beautycounter’s Charcoal Bar! Here’s why:

  • I always have it around anyway since it has so many uses – body wash, facial cleanser, pit cleanser (key when using a natural deodorant!!)
  • It’s affordable and lasts forever — like 3-6 months, even keeping it in the shower like I do!
  • Charcoal products in particular are great for dirty jobs since charcoal traps dirt and makeup and removes them. And that’s exactly what we want for this scenario.
  • Since it’s Beautycounter, I know I’m not putting something with sketchy ingredients on my brush and then on my skin.

If you don’t want to invest in that bar (although I really think everyone should have it), a gentle shampoo or cream cleanser works too. Just rinse it out well!!

How should I dry my makeup brushes?

I always lay them flat and then put something that is raised under the handles so that the brush hairs are tilted down just a little. A hand towel is great for this. This way, the water won’t dry up in the handle of the brush or cause any residual soap to get into the glue, which can break it down over time. That can cause your brush to start to come apart and bristles to fall out.

Drying it this way also helps the bristles dry in the correct direction. Be as gentle as you can on your brush; the bristles are usually very fine!

If you’re looking for new brushes, I really love Beautycounter’s brushes, which are the majority of the ones I own. I have some older ones from Sephora that I like too but have found that Beautycounter’s brushes are softer.

Happy brush cleansing! Now, go wash your brushes and report back! 😉

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    2 responses to “Clean your makeup brushes in 5 minutes (+ why you should!)”

    1. I wish I would have read this post earlier! I just had to replace my Beauty Counter traveling fountain brush because I dried it standing up. ?

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