Leaning how to clean makeup brushes may not be the most glamorous step of your beauty routine, but it is an essential one. According to makeup artist Troy Surratt—whose line of highly covetable brushes are based on principles learned in the calligraphy brush mecca of Kumano, Japan—the only way to keep them bacteria-, dust-, and dirt-free is with a weekly washing. Aside from being a cleanly practice, a well-honed rinse actually lends to superior application.
“Cleaning brushes and sponges is mandatory not only for hygiene purposes and keeping bacteria and germs at bay, but also for performance reasons,” explains makeup artist Robert Sesnek. Makeup artist Wendi Miyake agrees. “Cleanliness and maintenance is number one to ensure your brushes are long-lasting and will perform at their highest capability,” she says. “When investing in quality makeup brushes, it is equally important to understand how to properly clean and maintain the quality of your brushes.”
“If a brush begins to shed its bristles excessively, it may be time to replace it,” says Surratt. Rest assured, though: “If you care for your brushes with a bit of TLC, they should last for years. In my opinion, many brushes seem to get better and softer over time.”
Below, six makeup artists talk tips and tricks for cleaning makeup brushes like a pro, and share the products to make the process seamless and successful.
How Often Should You Wash Your Makeup Brushes?
A weekly washing is a must—and a minimum. “For optimal application and the truest color payoff, it’s important to use clean brushes,” says Surratt. “If you apply a similar makeup look daily, I recommend washing your brushes thoroughly once a week.” That said, “you may need to wash them more often if you regularly change your colors.” Keeping your brushes clean helps them perform at peak levels while preventing acne breakouts caused by bacterial build-up.
“Washing your brushes can [seem like] a chore, so create an experience that’s enjoyable,” Surratt suggests. To carry out this objective, he reaches for Oribe’s Signature Shampoo, which has an addictive lemon and bergamot scent and is gentle enough for even delicate natural hairs.
What About Cleaning Sponges?
Should sponges be part of your regular rotation, a twice-weekly (or even daily) wash may be advisable, depending on the amount of product used. If a brush is entirely caked in foundation or a sponge is soaked in silicones and oils, Surratt says that Dawn dish soap works wonders for degreasing. Be careful of “cleansers that have a high alcohol content or contain harsh solvents, as they can loosen the glue that holds the brush together, eventually affecting the life of the brush.”