Purchasing quality makeup brushes is definitely an investment. If you don’t wear much makeup, it is hard to justify the cost, but trust me that your investment will make things easier and more rewarding when you do!

Here’s a simple, natural makeup brush cleaner plus how to use it to keep those brushes clean. And it turns out you really only need two ingredients to clean your brushes naturally: oil and soap.

Why You Should Clean Your Makeup Brushes

Always think of your makeup brushes like paint brushes – high-quality tools that need to be cleaned regularly and gently. You don’t want leftover paint messing up a canvas, right? So don’t let old makeup gunk up your face. 

1. Dirty Makeup Brushes Could Cause Acne

Keeping makeup brushes clean is essential for flawless makeup – but keeping them clean affects more than just how your makeup turns out! If you have breakouts that just won’t go away, no matter what products you use – check your makeup brushes.

When was the last time you washed them?

If they’re looking a little too grimy for comfort, they’re probably long overdue for a deep clean. Brushes can become the perfect breeding grounds for bacteria – and that same bacteria can be the cause of acne if you’re not washing your brushes often enough! That means that even if your face is clean, you’re just spreading the bacteria from your brushes right back to your face.

2. Clean Brushes Will Last Longer

When you clean your brushes, you’re basically doing basic maintenance on them – like you would for your car. By keeping them clean and preventing buildup of makeup and oil on the bristles, you can actually prolong the life of your brushes!

Making sure that your makeup brushes are fresh and clean ensures they’re always performing on your skin as they should for flawless makeup.

3. Dirty Eyeshadow Brushes Could Lead to Eye Infections

Remember the model who got an eye infection from a dirty makeup brush? It’s so important to ensure that any brush you use around your eyes is as clean as it can possibly be.

Eyes are really susceptible to getting eye infections from dirty brushes, or even a dirty mascara wand (BTW, did you know that you need to replace your mascara every 3 months as it is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria?)

How to clean your makeup brushes

Step 1: Save yourself a few bucks and mix up your own DIY makeup brush cleaner. For the bottle above, I filled 1/3 of the container with olive oil and the rest with Castile soap.

It’s a simple recipe but when I have the mixture on my bathroom counter, I’m much more likely to use it than if I have to round up ingredients every time.

Step 2: Pour some of the makeup cleaner in a small dish. Dip the brush into the mixture and gently swirl. See how it’s already getting cloudy with makeup coming off?

Step 3: Using the palm of your hand, swish the brush back and forth. Get some good suds going!

Step 4: Rinse the brush until the water runs clean (always keep the bristles pointing downward to prevent water from getting inside the handle). Repeat steps 2 and 3 if needed.

Step 5: Finish by spritzing the brush with a bit of witch hazel. This is optional, but it’s a good way to kill any remaining bacteria.

Step 6: Lay the brushes flat to dry. Some say to hang them upside down – go for it if you’ve got clips and hangers at the ready. Just don’t stand them upright – the water will drip down and can damage the glue that holds everything together.

How Often Should You Clean Your Brushes?

You can clean daily (or after every use) if you want – that’s probably ideal. But I’m shooting for weekly.

Deep cleansing brushes every week is a good rule of thumb for both makeup brushes and makeup sponges – yep, those babies aren’t exempt from the weekly clean! I love setting some time aside on the weekend to clean my brushes, it’s a great way to pass the time while wearing a face mask! #selfcare, amiright?

There are a couple of things that you can do to make sure that you’re caring for your brushes properly – for example, you would think that hot water = cleaner brushes, right? Nope! If that surprised you, read on to find out four MUA-approved tips for cleaning your makeup brushes.

Five Makeup-Artist Approved Brush Cleaning Tips

Don’t use hot water

The higher temperature of hot water could melt the glue that holds the bristles in place – completely wrecking your brush! Lukewarm or colder water is perfectly fine for cleansing brushes.

Don’t completely submerge your brushes

When you completely submerge brushes in water, you might be letting water into the brush itself. This also weakens the glue that holds your brush together, making it more prone to falling apart.

Do dry your brushes lying flat or hanging upside down

Again, this is a simple step that makes your brushes last longer. Drying them right side up lets moisture into the handle, making it more likely for the bristles to come off your brush completely – not something we want at all! Lay them flat on a dry towel, or make a DIY makeup brush hanger with a clothes hanger and some hair ties.

Do clean the handles with a makeup wipe

Don’t forget about your makeup brush handles, either. For cleaning makeup smudges on handles, a few go-overs with a wet wipe or makeup remover wipe usually does the trick to get the grime off!

Use a Cleansing Mat

A final tip that I have to speed up the whole process is to use a brush cleansing mat – no, you don’t need a specific one from a fancy brand, either! My favorite thing to use as a cleansing mat is a silicone pot holder – they’re super cheap and do the job just as well.

Don’t forget to follow our tips and use our recipe for an all-natural makeup brush cleanser to take care of your makeup brushes – after all, they’re a serious beauty investment!

Makeup Brush Cleaning FAQ

Can I use scented castile soap for this recipe?

Yes, any brand or scent of castile soap should work for this. But if you have sensitive skin, I would look for a scent that’s especially soothing, like rose, lavender, or even unscented baby castile soap. 

What other oil can I use to make brush cleaner?

Olive oil is great because it’s heavy and rich, so it does a great job at melting dirt and grime on your brushes. If you don’t have any, any other oil should work, but you might try vegetable, avocado, or castor oil.

What can I use instead of makeup brush cleaner?

Fancy homemade brush cleaner isn’t an absolute necessity. You can use gentle dish soap, plain castile soap, face cleanser, shampoo, even gentle body wash to get your brushes clean.

Can I use shampoo to clean makeup brushes?

Yes! I love baby shampoo for cleaning my brushes, but if you only have regular shampoo, go for it.

What is the fastest way to dry makeup brushes?

If you’re in a hurry, give your brushes a quick shot with a hairdryer. Make sure it’s on the coolest, lowest setting and blow in the direction of the bristles, not against them. Doing this occasionally shouldn’t harm your brushes.

Homemade Makeup Brush Cleaner

Don't let dirty makeup brushes gunk up your pores! Here's a simple homemade makeup brush cleaner with a quick tutorial on how to keep your brushes clean.
~~~~~~~~~~
Prep Time: 5 mins
Total Time: 5 mins

Equipment

  • 8 ounce container with lid

Materials

Instructions

  • Combine olive and castile soap in a small bottle or container. Swirl bottle before using to mix ingredients together.  
  • Finish by spritzing the brush with a bit of witch hazel. This is optional, but it's a good way to kill any remaining bacteria.

Notes

Use it to clean your brushes as often as you like. Deep cleansing brushes weekly is a good rule of thumb for both makeup brushes and makeup sponges - yep, those babies aren't exempt from the weekly clean!
Leftover cleaner can be stored in the bathroom cabinet for up to 4 months.

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