Bellas, question time – how often do you clean your makeup brushes?

C’mon, you can tell me! Here’s my embarrassing, shameful but true confession…I don’t clean my makeup brushes nearly often enough! I use them daily and I’m honestly embarrassed to tell you how often I take the time to deep clean my makeup brushes thoroughly. It’s a problem. I should know better and do better…but instead all I do is know better and do nothing. Right now it’s been about two weeks.

clean makeup brushes

Clean, beautiful makeup brushes. Mine don't look like this right now 🙁


I actually stopped myself the other day, while about to film a makeup video for my YouTube channel. Why? Because then people could see how dirty my makeup brush was at the time. (The fact that I just stopped myself from using it in the video and didn’t immediately take the time to oh…I don’t know… WASH IT, speaks volumes about how my mind works. SMH at myself).

I know what Sam Fine uses to wash his brushes. But if you want to give your brushes a little more TLC, allow me to suggest a one-two-three punch that will leave your brushes deeply clean, soft, and smelling fabulous.

Olive oil + brush cleaner + baby shampoo = clean, bacteria free brushes you will LOVE.

Johnsons Baby Shampoo

What I reach for when I need to deep clean my makeup brushes

Johnson’s Baby Shampoo remains my standard go-to baby shampoo, and they recently sent me some samples of their classic items to re-familiarize myself with their efficacy. Johnson’s Baby Shampoo works GREAT! If you’ve got a different preference, you can use any baby shampoo you can find. I happen to love that gentle “baby” product fragrance, but not everyone does. So you can use whatever kind (or lack of fragrance) you prefer!

Generally it’s recommended that you keep your make-up brushes clean on a daily basis by wiping them off on a clean towel or paper towel — see Makeup Geek for a tutorial on when you should be cleaning your brushes. At department stores, employees at makeup counters use cleaner after each use (at Chantecaille, they use rose water!). And weekly it’s advised that you deep clean your brushes. For myself, my goal is to not go any longer than 10 days without deep cleaning my brushes from this point on. Because at that point, it’s already ridiculous and you’re putting your skin at risk for skin problems like acne. No bueno!

The brush-cleaning method I’m currently finding the most useful originated with Enkore Makeup. I hope you’re familiar with him! Enkore Makeup is one of THE most helpful makeup resources on the internet. If you don’t already subscribe, I highly recommend that you do! I had the pleasure of meeting him during The Makeup Show Chicago and he was such a sweetheart!

I only use olive oil to break down the product on my foundation and lip brushes, then I spritz on brush cleaner, then I wash the bristles gently with diluted baby shampoo and warm water. Or you can use dish washing liquid and warm water, depending on your preference. I use a standard brush cleaner, (ULTA’s in house brand is affordable and effective) or if you’re more ambitious you can make your own makeup brush cleaner for about three fiddy (love the name of that blog! LOL). Make sure you’ve rinsed out ALL the cleansers when you’re done, and lay your brushes flat to dry afterwards. I prefer to wash my brushes at night so they’re dry in the morning when I need them!

To keep your eyeliner/lip pencil sharpener clean, I’ve been told to use rubbing alcohol, Q-Tips, and orange sticks (yes the kind you use on your nails!) Worst case scenario, use an eyeglass kit for the teeny screwdriver, and unscrew the whole thing to thoroughly (and carefully) clean.

The point is, love your makeup tools. Care for your brushes well, and you’ll save money and quite possibly save your skin. Don’t be like me. Keep your brushes clean!

How often do you clean your brushes, bellas? Feel free to tell me off in the comments! I know I’ve been bad about it!



Erica B. says:
June 28, 2011, 10:54 am
I don't wear makeup everyday, so I clean my brushes around every other week. I asked Sam Fine what he used to clean his brushes? He said -- Dawn dish liquid. It made perfectly good sense, so that's what I use as well.
abolitionista says:
June 28, 2011, 11:05 am
I clean my foundation brushes with Mac's brush cleaner every three uses and I deep clean all of my brushes once a week. I learned the hard way with brush cleaning because my skin was breaking out like never before and I wasn't sure why. I went from having 100% clear skin to getting all over acne. I realized that the breakouts might be from my makeup brushes. Once I realized this and implemented my new cleaning regimen my face has been clear ever since. :)
Kim says:
June 28, 2011, 11:13 am
I use Conditioner and a few drops of Tea Tree Oil. I Love It!!
BK says:
June 28, 2011, 11:17 am
I've been using baby shampoo for years.. johnson & johnson works for me.. Only recently I actually got into the weekly cleaning of my brushes and that's only because I'm pregnant. Before that.. I could go a month :( and sometimes longer.. which isnt good but I did LOL I am on a weekly schedule now and do it every sunday am
kalisa says:
June 28, 2011, 11:23 am
I used to use MAC's brush cleaner, but then, on a photo shoot, I saw the makeup artist clean her brushes by spraying them with rubbing alcohol and brushing them on a towel. I love this method because 1) I know it kills germs and 2) alcohol dries a lot faster than water. And because it's so simple, I do it more often.
Michelle of Chellbellz says:
June 28, 2011, 11:27 am
Since i'm putting make up to a clean face I didn't really think about it. But now I'm cleaning them everytime i use them since i'm using different color shadows. I use the mac brush cleaner! sometimes i soak it in there if i haven't used the brush in awhile because i know they collect dust like like everything else.
Rachel LeRoy says:
June 28, 2011, 11:30 am
What a valuable post! I didn't know about the olive oil thing, but the brush I use the most is for foundation, and mine is an organic powder, so I just use shampoo in the palm of my hand and let it dry on the windowsill. I think the brush is horsehair, I know it's real hair - which is might be easier to get clean than synthetic with shampoo. I have one of those foam eyeliner smudgers (even though you and I learned to use a BRUSH for smudging eyeliner this month) - maybe I should use alcohol on that. I don't think I've ever cleaned it. Ewww...
aquababie says:
June 28, 2011, 11:52 am
I use with sephora's brush cleaner or dr.bonner's. says:
June 28, 2011, 12:27 pm
I clean my brushes weekly or bi-weekly depending on how often I've used them. I am paranoid about getting an eye infection so that keeps me motivated on keeping my brushes clean. I also have a backup set of brushes that I can use if I don't have time to wash the regular ones.
PoetrysTruth says:
June 28, 2011, 12:55 pm
I use purity made simple...the same thing I use to clean my face. I don't wear make up everyday BUT when I'm on a make up loving week I wash my bushes weekly. I figure if purity can take off my MAC liner and mascara it's good to clean my brushes. I then lay them out on a wooden soap dish with grooves (I own several of them) I then tilt one end up so that the handle is higher than the bristles. I allow them to dry over night and BAM clean fresh brushes for the morning. I then place all the clean dry brushes back in my brush holder (office pencil/pen holder) My plan in the future is to have two different cups for clean and dirty brushes, sometimes I've used a brush and I can't tell until I try to apply product. #fail LOL!
dee says:
June 28, 2011, 12:56 pm
It's been way too long, but I cleaned my foundation brush over the weekend. I do the wipeoff thing for shadows, and I wash with target brand baby shampoo. I either leave them overnight on a towel with one end higher(to "drain" the water) or I use my brush guards. With that I'm able to stand my brushes vertically, bristles down and I worry less about water loosening the ferrule of my brush.
Erica says:
June 28, 2011, 2:45 pm
I have to admit not as often as I should with my personal brushes. It is usually to the point when I am running out of clean brushes, but my brushes in my kit I clean after each use. Great post!
luvmylocs says:
June 28, 2011, 4:40 pm
this is a good reminder. i have acne prone skin. i need to do better about cleaning my foundation brush. i figure i'm just using it to apply my mineral powder, how bad could it be. i'm cleaning my brush today!!
luvmylocs says:
June 28, 2011, 4:47 pm
by the way, i use baby shampoo for deep cleaning and japonesque brush cleaner in between on my eyeshadow brushes.
Cosmolude says:
June 28, 2011, 9:43 pm
I try to clean my brushes once a week or every two weeks; it depends on how much I used them. I saw EnKore's video about cleaning brushes and I made the cleanser he talked about in the video.
I Am Your People says:
June 28, 2011, 11:47 pm
I clean every 3 weeks/month, using liquid dishwashing detergent and cool water
Starr says:
June 29, 2011, 2:14 am
I use olive oil along with Mac's Brush cleaner. says:
June 29, 2011, 6:37 am
I clean my brushes weekly. I am paranoid about getting an eye or skin infection so that keeps me motivated on keeping my brushes clean. I also have a backup set of brushes that I can use if I don’t have time to clean the regular ones.
candiew says:
June 29, 2011, 11:56 am
I'm not big into makeup, but I use powder puffs by Laura Mercier. I have 6 or so that I rotate during the month, so when I get down to my last one, I clean them all, which is usually about once a month. I clean them with Dawn dishwashing liquid, and float them in a very weak bleach-water solution, rinse throughly and air dry. I'm playing around with mineral foundations (currently road-testing Christopher Drummond's Veludo Velvet line)and I've started using a kabuki brush, which I will probably wash every two weeks.
Victoria says:
June 29, 2011, 6:58 pm
That is so great that you can use baby shampoo to clean your brushes without having to buy an expensive cleaner. Thanks so much for sharing.
illly says:
July 1, 2011, 2:35 am
Ladies..this is it...
Kay says:
July 1, 2011, 8:34 am
Mo says:
July 4, 2011, 11:26 am
I usually wash them with a little bit of Dawn. The bigger brushes like powder, blush, foundation I wash with Dawn and then a little bit of Bath & Body Works' Lemongrass & Mandarin Hand Soap. Rinse really well, shape them and then let the bristles hang over the ledge of a countertop.
blackroot says:
July 4, 2011, 4:04 pm
This question made me cringe, too! Thanks for the timely reminder! I use olive oil to break up the makeup and tea tree oil to disinfect. Then I rinse it all out with all natural dishwashing liquid, which is also gentle like baby shampoo. I can use this method with products already in my home and it's very effective!
Paula Millers says:
July 6, 2011, 5:26 am
I clean my brushes weekly, used only just soap and water. it's cleaned !
mzbonafidediva (ashley) says:
July 16, 2011, 8:44 am
I love enkore! His brush cleaner works and last forever!
Kriselie says:
July 26, 2011, 8:41 pm
I try to clean my brushes with natural soaps and it seems to work wonders for them. I actually wrote a post about all the products I use to clean them. If you want to compare notes take a look at -->
Anna F. says:
November 28, 2011, 11:53 am
I clean my brushes by taking a small shallow bowl and filling the bottom with toner . Then I add a small amount of body wash , usually suave , into the mixture . Then i dip my brushes in and swirl like you would mix cake batter . after i am done with all my brushes i rinse them off . and put a product called a brush guard on them . i put them in a cup bristle down so water can drain out of them and not loosen the hairs . when they are dry they are soft and so clean . says:
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Elizabeth Gold says:
February 17, 2015, 6:29 am
Baby shampoo for cleaning brushes! I had no idea that I can use it! It is also curious that you clean the brushes with olive oil. Thanks a lot for sharing this method! I will definitely try it! Cambrisge Heath Carpet Cleaners Ltd.


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