PSA: Clean Your Damn Makeup Brushes! (Here’s How)

The title sounds like something my grandma would yell at me.. but that didn’t stop me from writing it, because we NEED this PSA: CLEAN YOUR MAKEUP BRUSHES!

If you’re anything like me, you’re a little on the lazy side. Not when it comes to makeup, but when it comes to the clean-up. If you’re not, kudos to you! I aspire to be an adult someday, too.


Why You NEED to Clean Your Makeup Brushes

Last week on our social media, I shared a story about a woman who was paralyzed from dirty makeup brushes.

While that story is terrifying and totally true, it borders on sensationalist. MRSA from makeup brushes?! It could happen, but a more likely scenario is acne or infection.

Let’s be clear: brushes hold a LOT of bacteria, and if you’re noticing pimples or breakouts, look to your brushes first. You’re probably not cleaning them often enough.

I found the paralysis story after running across an instagram post from model Anthea Page, who said that her makeup artist was not using hygienic practices during fashion week, and gave her STAPH infection via dirty makeup brushes, because she wasn’t cleaning them between clients (yuck!).

So I sat myself down and had a talk: Megan, You WILL clean your makeup brushes and you WILL LIKE IT. 

First step? Figure out how.


Clean Your Makeup Brushes: Your Options

I have run across my fair share of makeup brush washing gizmos and gadgets in my day.

Typically makeup brush cleaning spray is made of alcohol and fragrance. Brush shampoo is made of soap. Seems pretty extra to me.

While Sigma’s brush-cleaning mat is pretty dope looking and one of my favorite makeup artists Krystal Sutherland uses it (she is an affiliate of the company, too, so you know hers was comped), I wasn’t ready to shell out money for something unless I really need it.

The Lilumia Brush Cleaning machine also looks insanely cool, just look:

liluma brush cleaner

Though I wonder.. does it damage your brush bristles? The videos I’ve seen on instagram make it looks like that’s entirely possible.

Also, it’s $150. Who needs a $150 brush cleaning machine? My entire brush set cost probably $150-$200 (maybe more now that I’m adding up $30 + $40 + .. ugh).

It seems the Lilumia might be better positioned for a makeup artist at fashion week, who needs to switch quickly between clients, without giving them a STAPH infection (too soon?).


How I Clean My Makeup Brushes

To be honest, in the beginning, before I was a beauty brand owner or a blogger, I just bought the spray. The alcohol spray. Yes, the 100% alcohol spray that I could’ve made myself for 50 cents.

And you know what? It did nothing.

It’s a “daily cleansing spray” that I found.. to do nothing. It wasn’t great at cleaning. It’s probably just a disinfectant, but if that’s what you want, get a spritzer bottle and diluted alcohol with water 50/50. Ta da!

For actual brush cleaning, I would suggest using a gentle soap and lukewarm water. I used baby shampoo.

Here’s what I did (and it worked!):

  1. Put a dime sized amount of baby shampoo on your fingers.
  2. Run the brush under lukewarm water
  3. Place the brush head in the shampoo and make quick, small circles on your fingers or palms (using them like a brush mat). This should add some color to the bubbly mixture.
  4. Rinse periodically; add more baby shampoo to the mix if necessary. Keep making small circles until there’s no longer color coming out of the bristles.
  5. Run the brush under lukewarm water again and do one last check, by opening up the bristles to see if there is color/product/residue inside. If so, keep going.
  6. Make sure the brush bristles are completely clean of any soap or residue before squeegee-ing out the water and placing the brush flat on a towel.

If you have good air ventilation, you can leave the brushes to dry on the towel. I cleaned mine today and they dried within a few hours.

Wash your brushes once a week if you are using them daily.

Let me give this one very important tip: Most brushes have a metal ring that helps seal the wood to the bristles. Do NOT just brushes float in the water. You do not want to risk rusting out the metal on your lovely brushes. Snooki did this a few years ago on social media and every threw a fit.


Takeaways: How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes

Brushes do hold a lot of bacteria and dirty brushes actually carry some scary risks. Just do yourself a favor and start washing them – daily if you want, weekly at least.

Make it part of your Sunday night ritual!

Do it while you’re on the phone! I cleaned mine today while on the phone with Miguel; he spilled all the juicy details of his life, I listened while I did my makeup, then cleaned brushes after.

However you want to do it, just do it! 


If you really want to check out some fancy brush cleaning things, spoil yourself here:

Dr. Vanessa Rodriguez is a board-certified general practitioner with more than 15 years of patient care experience. She takes an integrative approach to patient care that considers the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – and is deeply committed to assisting her patients in achieving and sustaining optimal health. Dr. Vanessa is also a skilled writer and medical reviewer, specializing in preventive care and health promotion. Her articles are written in an approachable manner that is simple to comprehend and implement in one’s own life. Dr. Vanessa’s mission is to equip her patients and readers with the knowledge and resources necessary to live their greatest lives.

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