It’s a dirty little secret in the beauty-loving community that many of us aren’t washing our makeup brushes as often as we should. And by often we mean not-so-often, if ever. Gross but true. In an attempt to fix our collective wrong, we tapped makeup artist Kasey Spickard to show us how to clean our brushes the right way once and for all. Read on, and repeat after us: “I solemnly swear to wash my makeup brushes in 2019” (at least sometimes).
All of his tips, ahead:
How Often Should You Be Washing Your Brushes?
According to Spickard, “You should clean your brushes after every use, especially brushes you use for cream-based products as they can be a breeding ground for bacteria.” That means your foundation brushes and sponges should get the most love to avoid creating a small bacterial colony (ick) in your makeup bag.
What’s the Best Way to Wash Your Makeup Brushes?
To get your brushes squeaky clean and ready for use, Spickard recommends this method: “Pour your brush cleaner into a tin or dish and then dip the brush tip into it about 1/4 to 1/2 way up the bristle of the brush. Then wipe it on a paper towel, following the grain of the brush hair. For fluffy brushes, you can make circular buffing motions to wipe off the product. Continue this process until the brush runs clean on the paper towel.” Once finished, Spickard takes things to the next level and spritzes his brushes with 70% alcohol to make sure they’re sanitized for his next client or job. While you may not need to take this extra step every time (especially if your brushes are solely for personal use), it can be helpful to do this every few washes to ensure you’ve gotten rid of all the bacteria.
What Should You Be Using?
Spickard’s cleaner of choice is a makeup-artist fave: Cinema Secrets Brush Cleaner. It doesn’t require water and comes with a reusable tin, so you can clean your brushes no matter where you are, no excuses. He uses this to cleanse his brushes after every use and saves deep cleaning for a later date. We also like IT Cosmetics Brush Bath Purifying Brush Cleaner, another waterless and alcohol-free solution.
When Spickard’s brushes need a really good scrub (about once a month), he uses Dawn Dishwashing Liquid and follows this method:
STEP 1: Take a large bowl of hot water and mix in two to three big pumps of Dawn Dishwashing Liquid.
STEP 2: Swirl the brush (about 1/2 way up the bristle) into the mixture and then buff it into your hand to work up a lather. Now massage the brush with your fingers to get the makeup out.
STEP 3: Rinse with hot tap water until it runs clean.
So, What Shouldn’t You Be Doing?
Washing your makeup brushes the wrong way can ruin them. A common mistake is fully submerging the brush all the way up to the heel and into the ferrule (that’s the metal part it’s attached to). This can cause your brushes to deteriorate faster than they should, shortening their lifespan. Another common mistake Spickard sees? Using that circular buffing motion he likes for fluffy brushes to clean flat ones. Instead, he recommends using a back-and-forth swiping motion, which prevents them from fraying.
And Now, to Dry Them…
While your brush-washing technique is important, so is the way you dry them. Rather than drying them bristle-side-up (like in a cup), Spickard suggests placing them on a clean, dry towel to air-dry. The former causes moisture to drip down into the handle, which will shorten the life of your brushes. If you can’t wait for them to dry overnight, blow-dry them on medium heat.