Foolproof Guide to Getting the Best From Your Makeup Brushes

I find that a lot of women are still unsure as to how to really clean their makeup brushes properly. Having worked as a full-time makeup artist, I found that it was one of the most commonly asked questions - customers were spending a fortune on brushes and were experiencing issues such as hair loss and brush heads coming off which resulted in the need for replacements every six months or so. 

And honestly, issues like that come down to how you are looking after your makeup brushes. With the right care and attention, a good set of makeup brushes should last you years upon years. Everybody has a different way, but I want to share with you the simple steps that work best for me. And my brush collection has endured about five years of hard graft.


How often you have to clean your makeup brushes totally depends on what usage they are getting. If you work full-time in makeup and have a makeup clientele, then you must deep-clean your tools on a daily basis. 


In between clients, makeup artists generally use an alcoholic based brush cleanser like Mac's brush cleanser to remove bacteria and excess makeup. This evaporates quickly ensuring brushes are ready-to-go for the next application.

And these alcoholic brush cleansers are also useful for non-professionals especially if you don't have the luxury of having multiple application brushes and you use the same ones for different areas of the eyes and face.


But there is a lot of makeup residue deep down in the fibres however that only a 'deep-clean' will remove. Just make sure you allow the brushes proper drying-time and I would recommend leaving them to dry overnight. Don't make the mistake of washing your brushes an hour before you need to use them because they (especially natural-haired brushes) are useless when they're wet.  

Most makeup companies sell their own version of 'brush shampoo' but for years I've used Johnson's Baby Shampoo and I find it works best. And yes, we love a product that can do some double jobbing goodness. 


Here is my tried and tested method:


  • Drop a 20c coin amount into the palm of your hand and begin to lather up your brush.


  • Add a tiny bit of water where necessary to build the lather.
  • The colour of the suds will determine how clean or dirty your brushes are. If your brushes are particularly dirty, they will lather up a really dirty colour whereas if they are relatively clean, the suds will remain a crisp white colour. And if you feel your brush is really in need of some deep-clean love, there's no harm in giving it an extra shampoo for good luck. 


  • Rinse the brush under the tap until the water runs clear.

And here is my top tip - is really important to pay attention to the two indents that appear on most professional brush heads/handles. These lines are actually there for a reason and ignoring them while washing may cause your brush to go all Marie Antoinette and lose its head. Water is not supposed to pass these lines because the wooden handle absorbs the water and then shrinks, causing it to loosen and eventually fall off. 


When you have rinsed out all the suds, lightly towel dry your brush by sweeping it in a backward and forward motion on a dry towel.


Use the towel to mould the shape of the hair and once you've achieved this, leave it over the edge of a surface to dry.


This is the best possible way to dry your brushes as they have full 360 degree exposure ensuring an even dry-out. You can use any surface in the house to do this - a window ledge, the bath or on top of one of your dressers. 

And here is a another tip for all you girls living with other beauty fanatics: to prevent your makeup brushes going astray, coat the end of your brush handle with a little bit of nail polish to make them distinguishably yours. It's a trick makeup artists use to prevent their brushes going missing in work.  And then you can get all Miss Marple and track down your own brushes despite any flatmate protestations.


And if you want to read more about our favourite brushes, from budget to blow out, we have a whole section dedicated to them right here.

So tell us, do you take care of your brushes? How often do you wash them or have you something to confess to us? Bless me Beauties for I have sinned...

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