We all know this feeling too well: It’s been over a month and we have yet to clean our makeup brushes. Yes, we can see they’re full of old, crusty eyeshadow, foundation, and blush, and yet the thought of cleaning them feels like a chore. However annoying it may be, though, cleaning your brushes is not only hygienic (they can build up a lot of bacteria)—it actually makes them apply product better.
While you would think that cleaning your makeup brushes would be pretty straightforward, that’s not exactly the case. Cleaning your brushes the wrong way can ruin the bristles. To guide us through the process of cleaning our brushes correctly, we spoke with celebrity makeup artist Jamie Greenberg. She works with Rashida Jones, Busy Phillips, Kristen Stewart, and Kaley Cuoco, to name a few. Greenberg uses about 15 to 20 makeup brushes per day on her clients, and she shared her best cleaning tips with us.
Step 1: Use the right brush cleaner
To clean her brushes, Greenberg uses a surprisingly inexpensive brand called Zote Soap ($7.85). “Because I wash my brushes every single day, I use Zote because it’s cheap and breaks down all the makeup and grime,” Greenberg said. “You can also use another bar of soap, but make sure there’s nothing volumizing or moisturizing in the bar—you want just straight-up soap.” Greenberg also recommended the BeautyBlender BlenderCleanser Solid ($16) and Cinema Secrets Makeup Brush Cleanser ($24). Since they don’t require water and they’re fast-drying, they’re easy to use when she has several clients booked at once.
Step 2: Wet your brushes and then apply the brush cleaner
If your brush cleaner requires water, make sure to wet your brushes first and then apply the cleaner to the bristles.
Step 3: Make sure the water runs clean
Greenberg said, “After that, I rinse the brush under water and get all the soap and color out, so you know the brush is totally clean.”
Step 4: Squeeze out excess water
Greenberg likes to use her pointer and middle finger to squeeze out the excess water. This will also help reshape the bristles.
Step 5: Let ‘em dry (properly).
An interesting tip Greenberg shared was that she lets her brushes “dry in the air.” She said, “Lay all of them flat and hang them off the table so that the bristles of the brush are not touching anything.” She added, “If they’re dripping water onto the floor, there’s too much water left in the brushes and you need to repeat step four.”
So while these steps are super easy, it’s important to make sure you’re getting rid of excess water, cleaning your brushes long enough to where the product is no longer there, and making sure they dry in a way that won’t ruin your brush’s shape.