Houston-based makeup artist Kat Sketch, who has more than 200 brushes she can rotate through, washes them about every two weeks. But if you don’t have a full makeup artist’s kit at your disposal, she’d prefer you wash even more often. “I would suggest most people wash their brushes every week,” she says. “Makeup brushes can build bacteria very fast, especially ones used around your eye.”
Frequent cleansings don’t just help keep your skin cleaner. According to makeup artist Ashleigh Ciucci, soaping up your makeup brushes regularly can extend the life of the bristles and make for better product application. “Brush hairs and sponges are porous, so they hold onto oils, debris, and bacteria,” she says. “If your brushes are dirty, your application will be spotty and blending will be difficult.”
What should you use to clean your makeup brushes?
The best and most thorough method for cleaning your tools requires water and either a gentle soap (regular soaps can dry out the bristles, especially if they are made of natural hair) or brush cleanser. Easy peasy.
There are dozens of cleansers made specifically for cleaning brushes, but makeup artist Benjamin Puckey is an especially big fan of Parian Spirit Professional Makeup Brush Cleaner, which is made from food-grade solvents to gently dissolve powder-, liquid-, and wax-based makeup. If you’d prefer not to buy a cleanser specifically for your brushes, though, your favorite face wash may be all you need. Kim Kardashian’s go-to makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic famously uses Philosophy Purity Made Simple facial cleanser because, he says that if it does such a thorough yet gentle job on your face, it will do the same for your brushes.
For Sketch, dense and especially dirty brushes require heartier fare; she’s a fan of Cinema Secrets Makeup Brush Cleanser. “This one specifically cleans, disinfects, and leaves your makeup brush dry in one to two minutes flat,” she says.
And some dishwashing liquids are good for cleaning, too. Makeup artists like Camara Aunique, Allan Avendaño, and Dominique Lerma all look to the gentle soaps they use on their dishes and silverware for their brushes, with Lerma specifically recommending Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Dish Soap. Dr. Ciraldo even prefers shampoo: “I like sulfate-free shampoo,” she says. “It’s good to avoid sulfates that may possibly leave a residue on the brush and lead to some irritation or pore-clogging.”
What’s the right way to clean makeup brushes?
Clean, good-as-new makeup brushes and sponges are just seven steps away: