It may surprise you which things in your makeup bag stay cleaner longer, and which get yucky fast. For example, because it touches mainly your lips (where there is bacteria and moisture,) you may assume that lipstick would be a product needing extra cleaning. In fact, because of its moisture-repelling waxy base, lipstick stays relatively germ-free, and one swipe with a tissue leaves lipstick clean! On the other hand, liquid foundation you dip your finger in will tend to grab germs more quickly, and hold onto them longer. Clearly, makeup tools are used both in our products and on our skin, so they do need regularly cleaning- both to stay sanitary and to stay soft and comfortable to use.
Personal makeup brushes you use every day should be cleaned about once per month, or more often if you see product build-up or think it's necessary. Brushes can grab onto not only old makeup, but also bacteria, oil, sweat, dirt and debris, and dead skin cells. If you're not cleaning them out, you may be swiping all that junk around your face along with your makeup! So cleaning's important, but it is actually a very simple process, and it can be quite quick.
Here's what you need:
- brushes to be cleaned
- water (low pressure)
- makeup cleaner spray or soap OR shampoo OR body wash OR dish soap (**I'll explain this in a sec.)
- small bowl (if you've got big, thick brushes this may be helpful)
- absorbent cloth (that won't leave any or much lint behind)
**There are, of course, professionally-made makeup cleaners that work great for cleaning brushes. But you don't need to spend money on these products unless you want to! Shampoo, body wash, or even bar soap or dish soap will work. I would not recommend using bar soap, as it can harbor germs. My recommendation is a shampoo or body wash, simply because the pH is right, they're easy to work through the bristles, and they're easy to rinse out. But seriously, any of these will work.
Here's what to do:
- In running (low pressure) water, get brush wet.
- Work a drop of cleanser into the bristles of the brush. Work it gently through the bristles as if you were washing the brush's "hair." You may also choose to "swish" the brush gently against one palm, which will work the soap through as well.
- Rinse soap out in running water. Work through the bristles with your fingers, making sure all the soap is out. (Natural bristles will take a bit longer to rinse; plastic/nylon bristles take just a short time.)
- Gently but firmly pat the bristles with the cloth, removing as much moisture as possible. Then, "swish" the brush around on the cloth (this should "fluff" the bristles back into their normal position.)
- Finally, dry time. *This is important: NEVER set brushes on their handle (upside down) to dry. This can cause water to get down into the handle or into the connection where bristles are held onto the brush and cause problems like bristle-loosening or even mold inside the handle. The best way for brushes to dry, if possible, is to be set vertically, right side up. If that's not practical, though, the most common way to let brushes dry is set horizontally on a cloth. Let brushes dry for at least four hours. That's it!
A few extra tips:
- If you've got a brush (or brushes) that have caked-in makeup, or have waxy or creamy makeup buildup in them, here's a trick: Before washing, work some olive oil or almond oil through the bristles. The oil will soften and grab onto any other oily or waxy substance stuck in the brush and help it break apart so it can be cleaned out. Just work the oil through the bristles and then rinse. Then proceed with normal cleaning process.
- To clean a makeup brush handle, simply wash it gently with soap and water, then run over it with a wet wipe or with some rubbing alcohol. This sanitizes the handle.
- Remember: Never, ever share makeup brushes! There have been small outbreaks of pinkeye and other bacterial and viral problems between friends just sharing makeup and tools.