Makeup Brush Cleaning 101

May 20, 2015

woman holding makeup brush in sink with the other hand holding a bar of soap

Adding one more thing to your To-Do list may not be your idea of a good time, but please don’t brush this one off.  Simply taking a few minutes to keep your makeup brushes clean and pristine will do wonders to keep your skin healthy and glowing.


Is it really that important?


Yes, it really is. Makeup and oils build up on brushes, making a perfect breeding ground for germs and bacteria. Unless you clean your brushes thoroughly and regularly, those little nasties can be transferred to your face each time you apply makeup. This can lead to breakouts, skin irritations, even infections.

Keeping your brushes in tip top shape ensures that they’ll do their best work for you. That gunky buildup causes your makeup brushes to deteriorate more quickly. Clean brushes are healthier for you, provide better application of your makeup, and they’ll last longer.


No matter how tempting it may be to throw all your brushes in the sink to soak—–resist the urge!  Instead, take just a bit of time to clean them thoroughly.

1. Wet bristles in lukewarm water.

2. Make sure you always wet your brushes upside down so water doesn’t get into the ferrule (the metal part that joins the bristles to the handle. Water dissolves the glue over time, causing bristles to shed and ultimately ruin your brush.

3. Place a drop of your cleanser of choice into the palm of your clean hand.  If using a bar of soap, swirl the wet brush over the soap until it gets saturated and foamy.

  1. Gently massage the tips of the bristles across your palm in gentle circular motions.
  1. Rinse clean.
  1. Squeeze out the excess moisture with a clean towel.
  1. Re-form the brush head back into its original shape.

Drying Properly is Important Too

1. Let the brush dry with its bristles hanging off the edge of a counter, which allows it to dry in the correct shape; keep your brushes tilted with the bristles pointed downward. 2. Never let your brushes dry on a towel — the bristles can turn mildewy.  3. Avoid drying brushes vertically with the bristles up. Storing wet brushes standing up can cause water to leak into the ferrule, potentially leading to mold.

Extra credit if you clean the container that holds your makeup brushes occasionally too.


There’s no shortage of advice from professional makeup artists on this point.  Basically, any mild soap that’s good for the environment is good for your brushes.  Baby shampoos are one way to go; another is a mild dish soap.  We found Seventh Generation’s Lavender worked well. 

Recently though, we’ve been using something new:  Kari Gran Essential Bar SoapIt’s a non-drying organic soap made of goat’s milk, rich in essential fatty acids, vitamin A, and triglycerides. It does a terrific job of gently cleaning residue (aka “gunk”) from makeup brushes.



Because makeup brushes can be such a breeding ground for bacteria, most dermatologists will tell you to soak your tools, especially foundation and concealer brushes, once a week — minimum — to prevent product buildup.  Same goes for the American Academy of Dermatology which recommends washing brushes every seven to 10 days.

Of course, if you want to clean your brushes every day or every other day, have at it!. Just remember it may take up to 12 hours for the brushes to dry completely, so plan accordingly.


We’ve got some brand new brushes to offer.

Kari chose these brushes specifically because they’re soft, durable, and synthetic (hence, vegan and cruelty-free). Italian made, with aluminum ferrules and birch handles, they’re naturally stylish.

 Trust us, Kari put the trial brushes to the durability test, using them nonstop. They passed the test, along with two other important requirements: they clean up really nicely and do not shed.

As you know, we like to keep it simple, so we pared our choices down to our three essentials brushes.

Foundation: Ours is intentionally a little smaller than others on the market. It’s easier to be precise with how much foundation you use and where you apply it.

Blush: This one’s a bit larger than what’s on the market. Kari finds it easier to have achieve that diffused glow from within that we all want.  The slightly larger size also makes  it much harder to accidentally apply too much in one spot (aka clown face – not a good look).

Eyeshadow/concealer:  A  smaller brush that makes it easy to apply product in just the right amount and build layers as desired.

Spring is near. Why not treat yourself to a new makeup brush (or three) and practice your spring cleaning?

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