How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes

E. writes:

Hi Nadine,
I’m a big fan of the books and the blogs. I have two questions. I finally got nice makeup brushes from Bare Escentuals, but I was wondering how often and how I should clean them so I don’t ruin them. Also I use Bare Minerals foundation and I used to use fair but noticed that I looked really pale in pictures.  I went up one color and it looked good during the summer, but now it seems to make me look yellow, so I went back to the lighter shade. Do people often need a different shade for winter and summer?  Thanks so much.

mac-brush-cleanser.jpgHi E,
Unless you are incredibly vigilant about sunscreen and live in a climate with the same amount of sun year-round, most women will need two different shades of foundation depending on the season! It’s for that very reason that the Bare Escentuals starter kit include 2 shades. Make sure you’re using SPF 30 sunscreen in the summer, so that your skin tone doesn’t get too much darker from sun damage…but it’s natural and reasonable that you’ll get a little extra color here and there, and will therefore need a slightly darker shade to blend into your skin.

As far as cleaning your brushes, I recommend soft cleaning them on a daily basis with a product like MAC brush cleanser  (sprinkle a little on top of the brushes, and then stroke the brush back and forth across a washcloth, tissue or paper towel before rinsing clean).  Meanwhile, deep clean them every other week using baby shampoo (lather up the brush with the shampoo and swirl it in the palm of your hand, rinsing several times until the water runs clean).

Take caution not to wet the brushes above the metal bit of the handle (this can rust it and damage it) and when done cleaning, lay the blush flat across a pile of washcloths, with the wet bristles hanging off the edge to dry. Some people use Extra Virgin Olive Oil to deep clean their brushes – I’ve never done so, and have to admit it scares me because of my acne-prone complexion…but there you go!  Some people love it!

It can be a bit boring cleaning your brushes (believe me, it’s not one aspect of my beauty routine that I perform like clockwork) but it truly is important to maintain the life of your brushes, and also to prevent bacteria from building and transferring to your skin in the form of nasty breakouts.  Cheers, and happy makeupping!

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  1. Ah, remember to NEVER use any deep cleansing or clarifying shampoos! I did that once, as the shampoo in hand was SUPPOSE to be gentle, but my brushes were completely ruined!

  2. Nadine,

    I think you just saved my brushes! I have been lax about cleaning my brushes, cleaning them with smashbox cleaner every couple of weeks. I pledge to be more vigilant about keeping my brushes clean! My brushes are long overdue for a baby shampoo wash, and I am glad you shared this information. Thanks!