Thursday, March 20, 2014

BeautyPopStop Method: How to Wash Makeup Brushes

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*For those that messaged me, I have brushes from a long list of companies (MAC, Bdellium, Fresh, etc.), but the majority of brushes in the pics are Royal & Langnickel Revolution.

Prior to traveling a couple weeks ago I did a giant wash of my most-used brushes (generally I only wash all the ones I've used on myself 1x per week) and received a lot of questions--I like traveling with newly cleaned brushes even if they haven't been used since they were last washed. In fact, every time I post I'm doing it I receive a slew of questions about what I use and how I get it done. I thought it might be helpful to dedicate one post to my personal makeup brush washing habits so I took pics as I went about my routine and saved them for my return. It's been a little while and I've finally gotten around to posting!

I want to preface this by saying that there are a million methods and products out there to help get those brushes squeaky clean, so my advice to you is to figure out what works for you, but right now this is what works best for me.

If you're using your brushes for individual use I generally spot-clean during the week then do one giant wash at the end of the week of all the brushes I've used on myself. As I mentioned above, before traveling I tend to wash all of the brushes I'm going to use even if they aren't dirty--just a habit of mine!

If you're applying makeup to others please make sure you disinfect brushes between people. You do not want to spread nasty bacteria from person to person and there are so many ugly things that can be spread through contact with brushes.

Makeup Brush Drying

Although drying is obviously the last step in the process of washing your brushes, it's always a good idea to set up the drying area prior to beginning so you can set your brushes down in a clean, designated area as you go.

Here are some of my general tips for drying:

  • Choose a clean area where brushes can remain for an extended period as some brushes can take upwards of 24 hours to completely dry through (my Revolution face brushes are very long-drying for example)
  • Make sure brushes will not be left bristles-up as this will allow excess water to sit at the base of the bristles in the ferrule where it can break down the brushes and grow bacteria 
  • If brushes are lying flat, check larger brushes halfway through the drying period as sometimes the side lying against the drying surface will remain damp and brushes will need to be rotated
  • Make sure brush heads are not up against each other as it'll cause them to take longer to dry. I alternate their directions so there's a decent amount of space between them, but I am still able to fit quite a few on each drying area as you'll see below

So what do I use for drying? While I've been contemplating purchasing a few makeup brush trees for some time, I haven't taken the plunge yet. I've used a more DIY approach for a long time that consists of using stackable cooling racks and high-absorbency paper towels. This allows me to dry a large volume of brushes in a moderately small area. These cooling racks break down and lie flat once I'm done with them, so they're easy to store. They have a special coat on them so they won't rust easily.

diy makeup brush drying rack for cleaning makeup brushes
I place a fresh layer of high-absorbency paper towel over each stackable cooling rack

diy makeup brush drying rack for cleaning makeup brushes
Here you can see 2 of the cooling racks stacked. There are above 2-3 inches of clearance between racks (the perspective here makes it difficult to tell) so there's plenty of airflow.

how to wash makeup brushes
Here you can see one layer of eye makeup brushes. You can see how I alternate the vertical direction of every other brush so that the brush heads don't touch each other, but I'm still able to fit quite a few brushes on each rack--and I have quite a hefty pile to wash so that's great!

how to wash makeup brushes
Here's some of my face brushes drying--again, alternating their direction so their heads don't touch. I forgot to take a picture of some of my face brushes with larger paddle-shaped handles. Those tend to take up more room and have square shapes so I put them on a layer by themselves.

Makeup Brush Washing

As far as what to use for cleaning your brushes, there are quite a few products out there. I prefer to use something that cleanses, disinfects and conditions. Especially if you have natural hair brushes, you want to make sure you don't dry your bristles out with the product you use to clean them. Think about your hair. You wouldn't want to use something harsh and drying on your hair--your natural brushes are made of what? Natural animal hair ;) Be kind to those brush heads!

Here's what I do for all of my brushes using my favorite product for the last year or so, Enkore Makeup's fabulous Pro Ultra Brush Soap. I find it works well on natural and synthetic brushes. I've also heard good things about Clean Brush Shampoo and plan to try it at some point in the future. It's similar in the way it's used to Enkore's brush soap. 

I was always taught with artist brushes to never use super hot water on them as it can be harsh on the bristles and cause product to harden deep in the base of the head. I tend to follow this same rule for my makeup brushes and use comfortably warm water when washing them.

how to wash makeup brushes using enkore makeup pro ultra brush soap
Step 1 - lather up the bristles of your makeup brush with your brush soap and warm water. Make sure not to splay the bristles while you do this. Using a painting motion on the wet surface of this brush is enough to get a good lather going.

how to wash makeup brushes
Step 2 - for deep cleaning you can use the loofah side of the brush soap with the same "painting" motion. This isn't something I'd necessarily recommend for super delicate brushes, but it work wonders on my durable synthetics. For more delicate brushes I use the palm of my hand and fingers to gently work the soap down through all the bristles.

how to wash makeup brushes using enkore makeup pro ultra brush soap
Step 3 - rinse all of the soap out and gently reshape the head of your brush. I do this by gently pinching the head of my brush into shape. This also squeezes out a tiny bit of the excess water. Don't pull at your bristles by squeezing them super tight as it can cause damage over time. 

how to wash makeup brushes using enkore makeup pro ultra brush soap
Step 4 - lay your brush on your drying service and allow it to sit until it's completely dry--drying times can really vary based on bristle type, density, materials, etc.

There you have it! That's how I perform the tedious task of washing my makeup brushes. Yes, with as many brushes as I have I find it rewarding, but tedious!

Do you have a makeup brush cleaning routine? What is your favorite makeup brush soap?


  1. Awesome post! Actually going to save this so I can change up what I do and how I like it :D

  2. VERY helpful! I love the cooling rack idea!

  3. This is great! I always am interested in how other makeup junkies wash their brushes! I JUST washed mine and dried it on my Benjabelle Daisy Brush Tree, and I liked it, but I didn't really enjoy the MAC cleanser I used (I used to just use Baby Shampoo before, but still didn't get a kick out of it), so I may look into the soap you recommended. <3

    1. I really strongly recommend the Enkore soap it is seriously AMAZING. I've been using it since the beginning of last year and have gone through a bunch of them and love them. Well worth it imo.

  4. And I thought I had a lot of makeup brushes! ;) Very informative! Thanks for sharing! I really need to get in the habit of washing them weekly. I'm bad...I don't wash them enough!

  5. You're welcome! Definitely a good habit to force yourself into lol.


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