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How to Clean Makeup Brushes: Caring for Natural and Synthetic Makeup Brushes

Makeup brushes are valuable tools and require proper care. Though brushes are made with many different hairs and fibers, they generally fall into one of two categories: natural hair makeup brushes or synthetic hair makeup brushes.

Natural hair makeup brushes are made with many different animal hairs. The most common animal hair types are squirrel, goat, sable, and pony. Almost all reputable makeup brush companies harvest the hair in a safe and humane fashion, and the hair is thoroughly treated and sanitized before manufacturing. Synthetic makeup brushes are also made using a multitude of fiber types. Taklon and nylon are two of the more popular fibers used in makeup brushes.

In caring for your brushes, it is important to use a brush cleanser. Brush cleansers not only effectively remove makeup and residue from the makeup brushes, they disinfect and kill bacteria that can live in the brushes. Furthermore, most brush cleansers contain a lightweight conditioning additive to keep both natural and synthetic makeup brushes soft. Brush cleansers are widely available online and in stores, ranging in price from $9-25.

When cleansing synthetic hair brushes, you can substitute a mild face cleanser or shampoo in place of the brush cleanser, if needed. Simply wet the brush head, shampoo, rinse, and lay flat to dry as instructed below. Natural hair brushes cannot withstand the astringent properties of a shampoo or face wash, and over time, will dry out and become brittle.

Steps to Properly Cleaning Makeup Brushes

Tools Needed:

  • Makeup Brushes
  • Makeup Brush Cleanser
  • Paper Towels or an Old, Clean Towel
  1. Spray or pour makeup brush cleanser onto the paper toweling or old towel.
  2. Using back and forth sweeping motions, wipe the brush head across the towel back and forth until there is no more makeup residue being visibly removed from the brush. Pour or spray more cleanser in clean areas of the towel as needed.
  3. Lay the brush flat, with the brush head over an edge, to dry.
  4. Repeat with remaining brushes

Brush Cleaning Tips

  • Do not grind or mash the brush head into the paper towel. Use gentle pressure.
  • By laying the brush flat to dry, moisture will not seep into the ferrule (the metal part that attaches the hair to the brush handle). When moisture is present in the ferrule, the glue loosens and brush hair begins to fall out.
  • Clean your brushes at least every two weeks, or when changing makeup colors often.
  • Allow at least 4-8 hours for brushes to dry, depending on thickness and fullness of the brush.

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