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How to clean makeup brushes and how often you should be doing it

Cleaning your makeup brushes is as important as washing your face

how to clean makeup brushes
Jenni McKnight
Jenni McKnightUS Lifestyle Editor
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Makeup brushes have become an essential part of beauty lovers' kits, and whether you're a professional artist or a complete novice, the right tools can help you to achieve complexion perfection.

While there's nothing wrong with using your fingers – as long as your hands are clean – brushes have become an ideal way to achieve smokey eyes in seconds, contoured cheeks in minutes and a perfectly precise pout.

READ: 9 best makeup organisers 2021: how to store your cosmetics the right way

applying makeup

Keeping your makeup brushes clean is vital

But just like you would cleanse your face, your makeup brushes need a good scrubbing too.

Whether you've invested in natural hair bristles (which are more high maintenance and become difficult to use if not washed), or synthetic fibre brushes (which are easy to clean), they both hold onto dead skin cells, residue and oil – which builds up and can lead to blemishes and a 'muddy' look to your makeup.

But it's not just brushes as your trusty beauty blender can harbour just as much, if not more, bacteria, which is why it's so important to clean your makeup brushes and tools regularly.

READ: Best skincare products for sensitive skin to try in 2021

makeup brushes

Makeup brushes should be cleaned regularly 

How often should you clean makeup brushes?

Depending on what they are used for, makeup brushes need to be cleaned more regularly than you might think. The bristles should be soft and fluffy, not stiff.

Anything you use to apply liquid products needs more attention (bacteria loves a wet environment) so these makeup brushes should be cleaned at least twice a week.

Brushes used for powder application should be washed once a week, while beauty blenders need to be cleaned much more regularly and replaced every three months.

mac brush cleaner

MAC Brush Cleanser, £12.50, LookFantastic


Basically, the more often you use your brushes or beauty tools, the more you need to wash them to remove product build-up.

While a deep clean is advisable at least once a week, you can also use a brush cleaner to give the bristles a quick wash after use.

MAC's Brush Cleanseris a great solution that can be used for quick cleaning; it effectively lifts away dirt and product to leave brushes clean and smelling fresh. Simply stroke your brushes on tissue or towel that has been dampened with the cleanser.

MORE: 5 beauty treatments to do at home during lockdown

How to clean makeup brushes?

1. You can either run each brush under a tap to wet the bristles or fill a bowl with lukewarm water.

2. Add a few squirts of antibacterial soap, like The Pro Hygiene Collection Antibacterial Makeup Brush Cleaner, or a gentle baby shampoo into the palm of your hand or into the bowl.

3. Swirl or massage each brush for a few minutes to form a good lather, making sure the tips of the bristles are also coated, but be sure to keep the base of the brush-head (where it connects to the handle) away from soap and water.

real techniques palette

Real Techniques Brush Cleansing Palette, £10.78, Amazon


4. Rinse each brush under lukewarm, running water for a few minutes until there is no soap left on the bristles.

5. If it's been a while since you last cleaned your brushes, then you may want to repeat the process until they are sparkling clean. You can try the Real Techniques Brush Cleansing Palette, which features textured lining to help sweep away makeup, oil and impurities from bristles.

stylpro brush cleaner

STYLPRO Makeup Brush Cleaner Dryer, £21.89, Amazon


6. Once the cleansing product is removed, squeeze out any excess water and reform the brush-head back into its original shape.

7. Lay each one flat on a clean counter or your dressing table so that the bristles are hanging off the edge. This ensures that the brush will dry evenly and that the water doesn't get into the handle which can affect the glue and rot the wood.

8. Leave them to dry overnight.

If you don't want to spend ages cleaning your brushes, there are plenty of gadgets available that can help to speed up the process. The StylPro Makeup Brush Cleaner and Dryer leaves makeup brushes clean, dry and ready to reuse in seconds!

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