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At the risk of sounding like a flossing-obsessed dentist… you should clean your makeup brushes every day. If you’re like us, you’re probably a little bit lax on your cleaning schedule, but it’s easy enough to do every day. Once we learned how to clean makeup brushes properly, we realized it didn’t have to be laborious. In fact, there’s a quick method that’ll clear all the dirt, sebum, and bacteria from your brushes in just a few minutes without a prolonged dry time. (We don’t have to tell you that leaving it all festering in your brushes is a quick road to acne town.)

For a deeper get-the-pigment out type of clean, you’ll want to go to town with some water and some baby shampoo (or another gentle cleanser), or some dish soap and olive oil or coconut oil. Then, it’s all about drying your brushes in a way that’ll retain the shape of the bristles and protect the ferrule, the metal clamp between the handle and bristles. Classic mistakes, like letting your brushes dry lying flat on a towel, don’t prevent water from seeping into the glue-end of the bristles, leading to bristle loss.

And cleaning beauty blenders? They’re not much different. They’re a bit more like a sponge than a brush, but lots of the same methods (and cleaning solutions) apply. Read our full method on how to clean a beauty blender.

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How to Clean Makeup Brushes (Quick Dip Method)

You’ll need:
A makeup brush cleaner, like industry-favorite Cinema Secrets
Paper towels
A small bowl, like these Duralex pinch bowls
Or a tin, like this one from Cinema Secrets

Step 1: Wipe excess makeup off on a paper towel.

We’ve found that regular towels leave lint behind. Don’t get too wild in this step — use gentle sweeping motions.

Step 2: Dip just the tiniest tip of your brush in the cleaner — and remove immediately!

Pour ¼ inch of makeup brush cleaner into your bowl or tin. It’s better to go easy on this than overboard. You’ll be tossing any unused cleaner out, since it won’t be sanitary any more. You can also use a small spritz bottle to spray the cleaner on your brush. We don’t like that you can’t control the spray as well and cleaner ends up closer to the ferrule than we like.

Then dip just the tip of your brush in the cleanser.

This is key! The bristles of the brush are like tiny little straws that will draw the cleaner along their entire length. What you don’t want is too much cleaner so that it reaches (or soaks!) the ferrule. The same effective cleansers in your cleaning solution will decimate the glue holding the bristles into your brush, and they’ll start falling out, leaving your very clean brush totally ruined.

Step 3: Wipe and let dry.

Wipe the excess cleaner off on a paper towel using a large sweeping motion so you don’t stress your bristles or warm them. If there’s still a lot of pigment left on your brush, you can dip it again and repeat. Then, let your brush air dry. We’ve found that drying takes about two to five minutes, depending on the brush size and density.

How to Deep Clean Your Makeup Brushes

Since this method uses soap and water, it requires some serious drying time. Do this only if you have at least a few hours to let your brushes dry before you want to use them.

You’ll need:
A gentle cleanser, like baby shampoo
A small bowl, like these Duralex pinch bowls
A makeup brush holder like the Docolor 20-Hole Holder
Or, makeup brush guards and a cup
Optional: a makeup cleaning pad, like this one

Step 1: Wipe and rinse.

Wipe any excess makeup off on a paper towel, then rinse your brush in lukewarm water. Focus on the bristles only — and try not to get water on your brush’s ferrule.

Pro Tip: The more water you get near the ferrule, and the hotter it is, the more at-risk the glue is for melting, or the ferrule for storing water and warping. Warping = loose bristles = ruined brush.

Step 2: Squirt a little bit of baby shampoo into your tiny bowl.

And fill it with about a ½ inch of water.

Step 3: Dip just the tip of your brush in the cleaner.

Again, it’s all about protecting the ferrule. The bristles will suck up the water and the cleaner.

Step 4: Work up a lather.

Using either the palm of your hand, the surface of your sink, or a makeup cleaning pad (a silicone mat with lots of lather-inducing nubs and textures). Work up a good lather — you’ll start to see pigment coming out.

Step 5: Rinse (and repeat).

Rinse the brush tips under lukewarm water until the water runs clear. If you need to, go back to step 4, dipping the brush in more shampoo, lathering up again, and rinsing.

Step 6: Shape and let dry.

Give your brushes a quick pass on a paper towel. They’re clean if they leave nothing but water in their tracks. Reshape the bristles and let dry bristles down in your brush holder. This’ll employ gravity to do the drainage and protect the ferrelle. It’s tempting to rest the brushes on their side on top of a towel, but this doesn’t fully protect the ferrelle.

Pro Tip: If you don’t have a brush holder that’ll let your brush hang out upside down, put each brush in a breathable makeup guard, slipped about a half inch past the end of the brush and put them in a glass, bristles down. You can test if your covers are too loose by giving them a quick tap — if they move any at all you need a smaller size.

How to Clean Makeup Brushes with Olive Oil (or Coconut Oil)

We actually learned this method in art class — it’s the same method we use to get oil paint out of our art brushes!

You’ll need:
Dish soap
Olive oil (or coconut oil, liquified in the microwave)
A small plate
A makeup brush holder like the Docolor 20-Hole Holder
Or, makeup brush guards and a cup
Optional: a makeup cleaning pad, like this one

Step 1: Put some dish soap and olive oil on the plate.

The amount you put on the plate really depends on how many brushes you’re cleaning. A good ratio of soap to olive oil is 2:1.

Step 2: Work your brush in the solution.

Rub your brush in the solution until it’s completely coated. Then rub the brush on the palm of your hand or on your makeup cleaning pad until the pigment is all released.

Step 3: Rinse and set out to dry.

Rinse the brushes in lukewarm water — careful not to let water get above the bristles. Then set out to dry bristle-side down using a brush holder or a cup and makeup guards.

In Sum

Step 1: Wipe excess makeup off on a paper towel
Step 2: Dip the tip of your brush in cleanser
Step 3: Wipe the brush on a paper towel and let air dry
Step 4: Deep clean once a week with baby-shampoo worked into a lather
Step 5: Always dry your brushes dangling bristle-side down