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  • Emma Smeaton

Cleaning your make-up brushes

You use your make-up brushes almost every day, but how often do you give your brushes a good clean?

“A study found 34% of makeup brushes contained more bacteria than the average toilet brush”, says leading brush cleaning brand, StylPro.


Now more than ever, it’s so important to regularly clean and sanitise your make-up tools and products to stop them from harboring germs and bacteria. As we are all staying at home - perhaps focusing more on skincare and giving the face a bit of break from make-up - there’s no better time to give your brushes a good deep clean!


In this blog, you’ll find my step by step guide; some suggested products; and handy cleaning hacks to get your brushes as good as new…


How often should you clean your brushes?


We invest a lot of money in our make-up brushes and if they are well looked after they can last a lifetime and you’ll really notice the difference in your make-up application if the bristles aren’t caked in product. We also invest a lot of money in skincare, but using dirty brushes will undo all the hard work you put into your skincare routine and can often cause breakouts.


For my own personal brush kit, I aim to clean them once a week, using my trusted method below.


However, for my professional kit I will clean and sanitise my brushes after every client. If I’m on a job or a shoot, speed is everything and I need my brushes to dry in seconds so I use a brush cleaning spray (Beauty So Clean), spritzing the product onto some kitchen roll and gently wiping the brush in circular motions until the brush is free of any product.


After every job, I deep clean my kit and brushes, using a range of cleaning products and tools.


What do I need?


Warm water - clean your brushes with lukewarm water. Avoid using hot water as this can breakdown the glue that holds the brush together.


Washing up liquid and/or baby shampoo - Any antibacterial cleaning agent such a Fairy washing up liquid or hand soap will effectively breakdown liquid or cream products (such as foundation) on your make-up brushes. For brushes with natural hair bristles, you should opt for a gentler cleanser like baby shampoo.

The palm of your hand or a brush cleaning glove or tray - Cleaning your brushes on the palm of your hand is fine, but if you have a large collection you may want to buy something to help speed up the process. I recommend the Sigma 2X Sigma Spa® Brush Cleaning Glove (featured in the image above) or the Real Techniques Makeup Brush Cleansing Palette.

Optional: StylPro Original - The StylPro Original is a device that spins brushes clean and dry in less than 30 seconds, so they are ready to use straight away. I personally prefer to use my cleaning method below and just use the StylPro for drying brushes super-quickly.

Professional use: Rubbing alcohol with isopropyl - Make-up artists will use alcohol to completely sterilise their brushes and make-up products. This will quickly kill any bacteria, ready for the next client.


Step by step:


Step 1: Holding the brush face-down, wet the bristles with warm water.

Step 2: Apply a small amount of washing up liquid or baby shampoo to the palm of your hand (or glove/palette) and swirl the brush in circular motions to create a lather.

Step 3: Rinse under warm running water until there is no lather left, again make sure the brush is facing downwards so the water doesn’t travel up the brush to the glue that hold the bristles in place. (You may need to repeat these steps a few times for really dirty brushes).

Step 4: Squeeze the water out of the brush and reshape using your fingers.

Step 5: For professionals, spritz with alcohol.

Step 6: Leave to dry naturally over the side of the kitchen worktop or side of the bath. (See photo below). Make sure you don’t stack them on top of each other and never let them dry standing up.



Cleaning make-up sponges


Damp beauty blenders are great for creating a flawless base but the bad news is they are a breeding ground for bacteria and being so absorbent it’s difficult to keep them clean between uses.


One cleaning hack that I actually first saw on one of Mrs Hinch’s Instagram stories, is to pop your beauty blenders and sponges into a sock and wash them in the washing machine with your usual detergent.


I tend to avoid using sponges professionally but for my personal collection, I’ve given this a try and it really does work!


Don’t forget to clean your make-up bags


All this cleaning isn’t worth it, if everything goes back into a filthy make-up bag so make sure you remember to pop fabric make-up bags in the washing machine (with your sock full of sponges!) or wipe out plastic makeup bags with a damp cloth and fairy liquid or anti-bac wipe.


What about make-up products?


The severity of COVID-19 has made us very aware how easy it is to contract this virus if we don’t wash our hands and touch our face. Imagine how easy it could be to contaminate your eye shadow palettes when we continuously apply the brush to our eye area and then put the brush back in the product.


Make-up Artists will ensure their kit is kept in pristine condition and free from bacteria by using a spatula to pick up enough product for one client and apply to a palette or the back of their hand, avoiding any double-dipping of brush to product.


For your personal make-up collection you needn’t stretch to this extreme but it is worth spending an extra 5 mins on cleaning your make-up products using a spray such as The Pro Hygiene Collection Antibacterial Makeup Spray or you could just use rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle. Alcohol dries very quickly and it will not cause any damage to powder products.


(Image credits: The Pro Hygiene Collection)


Tip for your compacts


Oils from your face can damage your face powder. Have you ever had part of your powder go shiny and been unable to get to the product underneath? That’s because oil has got to your powder – use cellotape to lift this!


But a long-term fix is to make sure you place your powder applicator pad back into your compact face-up, with the side that touches your face, touching the mirror not the product.


The end


This was a lengthy blog post, so thank you for reading, especially if you made it to the end. I hope you found the tips and dos and don’ts helpful.


Please comment below to share any cleaning hacks you’ve discovered and let me know if there’s anything you would like to see on the blog next.

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