How to clean your makeup brushes to avoid unnecessary breakouts

We’re all friends here so let’s be honest. How often do you really clean your makeup brushes? Once a week? Once a month? Once in a blue moon? And even more importantly, do you actually know how to clean your makeup brushes?

Why is it so important to clean your makeup brushes?


While there are some jobs that can wait (tidying your wardrobe, decluttering your kitchen drawer) there’s a good case for making cleaning your makeup brushes a weekly priority.


Unwashed brushes put under a microscope have been shown to harbour a variety of different bacteria, and even mites. It’s no surprise then that buffing a brush that’s skipped wash day onto your skin can lead to unwanted skin complaints like clogged pores and breakouts. At worst, and in cases where a dirty tool touches an open wound (like a freshly-picked spot), it can even cause infections.


Why are our makeup brushes brimming with bacteria, you might ask. It’s down to a combination of factors. First up, texture. Creamy, liquid makeup by its very nature contains water, creating a welcoming environment for bacteria to thrive in. And of course, it isn’t just makeup that our brushes are coming into contact with. As we blend brushes across our skin they're mopping up a cocktail of natural oils, sebum and dead skin cells. If you’re topping up your makeup during the day, there’s likely to be additional grime and invisible pollution particles in the mix too.


Don’t forget your makeup bag too


Unfortunately, the problem doesn’t end with our brushes. In fact, it’s only really the beginning. Applying makeup on the go is the norm, which means many of us can be found resting our makeup bags on public surfaces, like train seats and bathroom counters. Even if we’re not doing that, we’re still throwing our makeup bags into a potentially less-than-pristine handbag amongside used face masks, crumbs and the like. The solution? At least once a month, empty your makeup bag completely and give both the inside and out a thorough clean with antibacterial wipes.


We’ve covered the why, so now onto how to clean makeup brushes. Follow this step-by-step guide once a week to say goodbye to clogged, grubby brushes and hello to fresh, fluffy ones.


How to clean your makeup brushes


Step 1


Dampen your brush with warm water before working in a cleanser to loosen the product. The type of cleanser you use is down to personal preference. It could be a made-for-purpose balm, a mild baby shampoo or even a drop of washing up liquid. The latter can be too harsh for some tools, but does a great job of cutting through grease on especially dirty brushes.


Step 2


Keep working the product into the brush and rinsing until the water starts to run clear. Rinse extra thoroughly to ensure you have removed all of the cleanser, as these can cause irritation if they come into contact with the skin.


Step 3


Pat any excess water onto a clean towel and leave your brush flat to dry. For speedy drying, space your brushes out on a towel and place either on a warm, sunny surface or beneath a radiator.


Looking for a quick fix? Wiping excess product off your brushes with a clean tissue and a squirt of micellar water will help keep bacteria at bay between deeper cleanses.