How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes

Plus, how to clean eyelash curlers, sponges and more

Make up brushes
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One grave beauty mistake many of us make is to not clean makeup brushes and tools on a regular basis (count me among the guilty). When you invest so much money in brushes, eyelash curlers and powder puffs, it's important to protect your investment.

Here, I show you how to clean your brushes, curlers, makeup sponges and more.

How to Clean Makeup Brushes

I strongly recommend investing in a few nice makeup brushes and then taking very good care of them by washing them monthly or every two weeks if you're Type A or a germophobe (I'm not).

Oils, dirt and makeup get trapped in brushes and will break down the bristles over time, so washing them actually preserves them. See my list of the best makeup brushes.

Here's how to clean makeup brushes correctly:

  1. Remove excess color from bristles by wiping them back and forth on a paper towel.
  2. Immerse bristles in a warm bowl of water, being careful not to immerse the metal casing, known as the "ferrule." Bristles are glued to the base and you want to avoid getting the glue wet. You can also wet bristles by running them under warm water just enough to get dampen the bristles.
  3. Squeeze a few drops of mild shampoo (baby shampoo works great, too) into the palm of your hand. Swirl the brush into your palm, being careful not to rough up the bristles too much. You can also put a few drops of dish detergent in the bowl of water and swirl the brushes in there instead of using the palm of your hand.
  1. Hold the brush, bristles down, under running water until the water runs clear.
  2. Gently squeeze out excess water. Reshape bristles and let the brushes dry hanging over the edge of your sink overnight. You can also place them on a towel, but I find air drying over the sink works best because it doesn't mess up the shape of the bristles.

    I find natural brushes take about 24 hours to dry, so if you can't go without, consider having backup brushes.

    The Quick Fix 

    For a quick fix, or while traveling, you can wash brushes with baby wipes or spritz bristles with makeup remover and wipe off on a paper towel.

    How to Store Makeup Brushes

    It's best to store makeup brushes upright in a holder or in a makeup case (sort of like the cases chefs use to transport their expensive knives). Never place brushes bristles down in a holder or you risk damaging the shape of the brush and the bristles themselves.

    How to Clean Makeup Sponges

    I love using sponges for foundation application (check out my all-time favorite makeup sponge), but have always wondered if you can wash them and how often they should be washed. Turns out high quality sponges can be washed many times in a solution of baby shampoo (mild shampoo or Ivory soap works, too) and water. Cheapie disposable sponges can be washed a few times as well before they fall apart.

    How to Clean Eyelash Curlers

    Eyelash curlers come with rubber pads that will last quite a long time before they fall apart and need to be replaced. Typically curlers come with replacement pads, but you can usually pick them up from any drugstore or beauty supply store.

    See How to Use an Eyelash Curler

    How to Clean Tweezers

    Tweezers can be cleaned with soap and water. The main problem with tweezers is they become dull with use. That's why I buy only Tweezerman tweezers, which come with a lifetime sharpening policy (buy your own from Amazon.com). Once they become dull, you simply ship them to the company, they sharpen them and return them to you.

    See How To Shape Your Eyebrows

    How to Clean Powder Puffs

    If you've invested in a nice pricey powder puff, you can hand wash it using mild shampoo and warm water. Let powder puff dry on a towel overnight after squeezing out excess water. Makeup artist Bobbi Brown also suggests throwing the powder puff in the top rack of a dishwasher, which sounds a bit harsh to me.