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  • Emily Mulan Mua

The Best Way to Clean Brushes

My idea of a superwoman is someone who scrubs her own floor - Bette Midler

I know I know, we have enough to clean now a-days without adding something extra into the mix. But cleaning your makeup brushes is just as important as cleaning the rest of your house. It can often get neglected because we are so busy making sure everything is nice for everyone else that we can sometimes forget to do something that actually benefits ourselves. But this really is important.


Dirty brushes harbour bacteria, dead skin cells, grease and dirt. Not only is this generally gross but it can also cause spot breakouts, inflammations and irritation and other skin conditions.

Germs and bacteria’s can be spread If a makeup brush becomes contaminated either by coming into contact with bacteria either from the skin, eye, lip etc or by not having clean hands.

This is why a professional makeup artist will always use clean brushes on each client and wash their hands and apply hand sanitiser before touching your face. If they don’t, run.

A build up of product on your brush also affects how well it preforms - you won’t get a smooth blend with a grubby brush.




So with this in mind below are my top tips to sparkling clean and sanitary brushes


The first step in ensuring a brush is lovely and clean is to wash it with warm water and either a shampoo, face cleanser, brush cleaner or washing up liquid.

Using a scrubby mat helps you get right into the base of the bristles ensuring all the brush hairs are clean. Use circular motions to loosen any debris and help the cleaning product circulate thoroughly. Using this mat saves so much time compared to circling on the palm of your hand and is definitely worth the spend.

Don’t use too much pressure frantic circling and pushing down can distort the shape of your brush and damage the bristles.

Then rinse your brush under a running tap until all suds are gone and the bristles appear clean and water runs clear. Once you think you have rinsed enough rinse a bit more! The last thing you want is soap residue in your brush hairs as this will affect the application of your makeup.

Be careful not to get the Ferrule wet as this can damage the glue and cause your brushes to shed.


Leave brushes to dry overnight hanging off the edge of a work top or window sill to avoid them drying in a funny shape if they are pressed flat. Reshape your brush to its desired shape when wet to also prevent it from drying an odd shape. Don’t pile brushes on top of each other as they won’t dry properly.



Once dry apply 70% alcohol from a spray bottle into the brushes and swish on a paper towel To sanitise them. It is a miss conception that the higher % alcohol the better it is - this actually the reverse.

70% alcohol is more affective then 90% for 2 main reasons:


1. 90% alcohol evaporates too quickly to effectively sanitise and

2. Due to the quick evaporation rate and more sciencey stuff including penetration of molecule cell walls, 70% alcohol actually kills the bacteria molecule whilst 90% just makes it dormant.


You can use anti bacterial/alcohol based brush cleaners in between washes to keep them sanitary and for a light spot clean but should not be used as a total replacement for deep cleaning and washing your brushes.


In flu season and when you want to be extra careful about sanitation you can spot clean your personal makeup brushes after each use and then wash properly once a week if you wear makeup daily or at the very least once a month.


Also make sure you wash and then sanitise eyelash curlers, tweezers and other makeup tools by washing them in hot water and then following with a wipe of anti bacterial alcohol.


I hope this has been useful, I know cleaning your brushes can seem like such a bore but it really is essential for smooth makeup application and to maintain skin health and reduce the risk of infection.


Do you have any favourite cleansers or tricks to help keep your brushes clean?


Love Emily xxx


PS: As always please excuse my spelling and grammar, I'm a makeup artist not an author- I specialise in colour and blending and clearly not commas and brevity.

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