Cleaning Makeup Brushes: Decoded

dirty brush water

I’ve seen the pin floating around Pinterest about “cleaning your make up brushes” a few times now. I just got back from a trip and I had a makeup bag full of brushes that needed cleaning. Because everything should be cleaned after going through the airport it was time for a Pinterest Experiment!

The pin takes you to Beauty Anywhere Makeup by Rachel who explains that the best way to clean your makeup brushes is to gently stir the bristles of your brushes (not the clasp) in a warm-water bath with a quarter-sized dollop of specialty cleanser. She had a recommended cleanser, but basically said any dye-free gentle shampoo/cleanser would work. She makes an important note about not submerging your brushes and that getting too much water under the metal clasp of your brush will affect the glue that holds your brush together. Makes sense. Until you start thinking about the anatomy of a brush and how it is basically handle/clasp/hair. Hair? Much like hot dogs, it is better not to think about it too hard.

The water bath/twirling method is awesome for larger, bushier brushes (blushers, bronzers, powder, etc.). I used a gentle Neutrogena shampoo with water in a mason jar. See above picture! The swill in that glass is what was living in my powder brush!

Detail brushes, however, need a little extra love. I use a trick that effectively (yet gently) cleans your detail brushes. It works on the same principle as Beauty Anywhere’s, except it removes the water bath.

Cleanser Dots for Brush Cleaning

Dab separated dots of your cleanser onto the top of the back of your hand. Gently wet your brush, then delicately massage your brush into the first dot of cleanser. Massage and manipulate the brush until you see the makeup get absorbed into the cleanser. Rinse your brush in warm water and repeat on next cleanser dot until your brush is clean.

When finished, rinse your hand clean, obviously. If you don’t want to get product on your skin, you can use gloves.

Funny story though. There was a smidge of controversy in the Pinterest world when a COMMENT from the original post (NOT the post itself) was pinned. The commenter suggested an alternate way to do this was to soak your brushes in vinegar for 20 minutes and then rinse. Tons of people were disappointed with the vinegar tip and the original blogger had to make it clear to her traffic that it was not her suggestion. Pinterest. Hilarious.

Hey! Maybe I should put those happy brushes in a schmancy repurposed candle jar glass! As always, if you have any thoughts or suggestions, let us know!


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