It's oddly satisfying to watch all that blush and bronzer go down the drain.
If you're guilty of neglecting your makeup brushes, letting the powder and cream formulas build up on the bristles for weeks, or using more than one color without cleaning in-between ... it's okay! It happens to the busiest of us. But it's good to spend a few minutes each week getting the gunk out. And it's easier than you think! Let's cover a few things before we get cleaning:
Once or twice a week. "Ideally, the brushes should be clean every time you use them but that may be a real challenge to most of us," says Sabina Wizemann, senior chemist at the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab. "Once or twice a week is probably adequate for brushes used for powder makeup such blushes and bronzers. But brushes used for liquid or cream makeup (like foundations, concealers, and eyeshadows) should be cleaned daily as they are more prone to harbor bacteria that can potentially cause infections."
Try baby shampoo or ivory soap. "Baby shampoos seem to be widely used to clean brushes and they work really well," says Wizemann. "I would especially recommend cleaning natural fiber brushes with baby shampoo, or use ivory soap because it takes liquid makeup off brushes quite well."
While household products like olive oil and vinegar are often mentioned as solutions for brush cleaning, it's best to keep those in the kitchen, says Wizemann. If you want a product specifically made for cleaning makeup brushes, we recommend EcoTools Makeup Brush Shampoo, Real Techniques Brush Cleaner, and French Nerds Nerdiest Brush Cleanser.
Dab a dime-size amount of cleaning solution onto the sponge. Jami Svay, a professional makeup artist, recommends Dawn dishwashing soap. "It's gentle so it doesn't shred the sponge, but it's a degreaser so it breaks down the foundation and concealer with ease," Svay says. Massage the blender for 60 seconds, then add water and rinse while squeezing the sponge. Do this until the water in your sink runs clear, then gently roll it on a clean towel to remove moisture, and lay it flat to dry.
Once they're completely dry, place them in an upright cup, advises Wizemann. If you're packing your brushes up for on-the-go use, make sure the cosmetic bag or case has been cleaned. (Check out a few of our favorite makeup cases and tips!)
Now that you have the information and tools to get the job done, here's a step-by-step guide to cleaning your makeup brushes: