You eat healthily, drink plenty of water, exercise regularly, cleanse your skin properly and moisturize, but no matter what you do, it seems your skin is still experiencing breakouts.
While you may think you’re doing everything right, there is one important step you may be missing, as many women don’t even think about it: dirty makeup brushes. Those brushes could very well be the root of your problem, as they can harbor all sorts of gross stuff, from toxins in sweat and bacteria to oil, dirt, grime, dead skin cells, old makeup residue, germs and more. If you don’t clean them regularly, just imagine what they might hold? Yuck!
When you dip your brushes in powder and then swipe them across your face time and time again, it pretty much guarantees that they’ll pick up unwanted gunk. Over time, the bacteria multiply too. Ewww! And, if that wasn’t bad enough, everytime you use that makeup brush, you’re wiping that bacteria back onto your face. The probable result? Breakouts. If your brushes are caked with makeup, especially liquid or cream products, they end up getting stiff pretty quickly too. Even rinsing the makeup out with water isn’t totally effective, and when you use a stiff brush on your face, it irritates skin. Combined with all of that bacteria, it’s a perfect recipe for a skin disaster, and ultimately, acne.
Cleaning your makeup brushes regularly is also important so that they’ll continue to stay in good condition and work like they should. After all, if you’re replacing them more often than you have to, you could be wasting a whole lot of money. That accumulation of old makeup and gunk can create an uneven makeup application as it makes cosmetics a lot more difficult to apply. Plus, the more powders you use the same brush for, the more colors are sitting in that brush and end up changing the hue you were going for.
So, how often should you clean them? It really depends on the brush. For brushes used on liquid cosmetics, such as foundation, concealer and cream eyeshadows, they should be cleaned every day. All other brushes should be cleaned at least once a week. If you find you’re breaking out frequently, clean them every day until your skin clears up – you’ll be surprised at how developing this one simple habit can make such a significant difference.
If you’re thinking about using a chemical cleaner, stop now. Do you really want chemical compounds going onto your skin, and seeping into your bloodstream? We think not. Instead, try these more natural ways of keeping those makeup brushes clean.
1. Castile Soap Method
This method primarily uses castile soap – Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild 18-in-1 Castile Soap is ideal. You’ll also need a dry hand towel, a toilet paper roll (with toilet paper), and a flat place to lay your makeup brushes down to dry. The most effective, and easiest, way to do this is to clean each brush one at a time. Use the same water temperature that you’d use to wash your hair – not too hot or you could damage the bristles. Don’t scrub too hard, as the brushes are very fragile – treat them like you would a flower.
- Wet your first brush with the fluffy part pointing down and then place a small dot of castile soap into your hand.
- Swirl your makeup brush around gently, using a circular motion, and then swirl in the opposite direction.
- Rinse the brush, and then check to see if it looks and feels clean. If not, repeat and rinse again until it does come totally clean.
- Once the brush is clean, rinse your hands and your brush thoroughly until the water runs clear.
- Lay the brush on a dry towel, on a flat surface. Keep in mind that you should never stand your brushes upright when they’re wet. Always air dry them, but if you absolutely have to, you can use a blow dryer on the cool, low setting.
- Repeat with all of your other brushes.
- Once all of your brushes are on the dry towel, fold the towel over the head of each brush, and gently press to eliminate excess water.
- If you can, find a warm, dry, flat spot like a sunny window sill to lay down the towel. Don’t use the brushes until they’re completely dry.
2. Bar Soap
You can also use standard bar soap to clean your brushes. Simply massage each one against a sturdy bar of soap, working the cleanser deep into the bristles. We recommend using a natural chemical free bar soap like this one. Rinse with lukewarm water, and then lay out on a dry towel, as per the above castile soap method. Be careful not to get the barrel of the brush wet, as it tends to loosen the bristles, and they could fall out.
3. Liquid Dish Soap
Another way to get makeup brushes sparkling clean is to simply use liquid dish soap, water, and a clean sponge. Pour a little dish soap onto your sponge and then rub a makeup brush against the surface. Rinse with lukewarm water and then lay it on a flat dry towel; repeat. Be sure to rinse your sponge and use fresh dish soap which is also free from nasties like this one available on Amazon each time.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar + Liquid Dish Soap
For especially dirty brushes that are likely to have a buildup of bacteria, you may want to use this recipe, as apple cider vinegar (ACV) can help kill potentially dangerous “bad” bacteria while helping to thoroughly clean brushes at the same time. First, combine a tablespoon of pure apple cider vinegar, a half-teaspoon of liquid dish soap, we recommend this one by Mrs. Meyer’s, and one cup of warm water in a glass. Place your brushes into the mixture, and allow them to soak in order to break down the gunk.
Afterward, rinse out each brush well using cool water, and then place them on a flat dry towel, as per the other methods. It’s best to allow them to air dry overnight.
5. Hydrogen Peroxide + Castile Soap or Organic Baby Shampoo
Another powerful combination for bacteria-filled makeup brushes, calls for hydrogen peroxide to kill the germs, castile soap or organic baby shampoo and warm water.
Add several drops of baby shampoo or castile soap and a teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide to a bowl of warm water. Place your brushes in the solution for about 10 minutes, and then gently swish each one around in the mixture before rinsing with cool water and place on a flat, dry towel as per the previous instructions.
6. Organic Baby Shampoo and Water
This technique is incredibly simple, and using organic baby shampoo helps to condition the bristles of your makeup brushes while removing junk, and avoiding a starchy, stiff residue. It’s best used when you’re short on time or don’t have any ACV or hydrogen peroxide, as you won’t get the bacteria-killing benefits.
First, run your makeup brush bristles under lukewarm water, making sure to keep the bristles pointing downwards, while avoiding the area where the handle meets the head. Place just a small amount of baby shampoo into the palm of your hand, and then swirl the bristles of the brush into the shampoo until it results in a rich later. Work out the dirt and oil, and then place the brush under lukewarm water again until it’s thoroughly clean. Squeeze out any excess water by pulling the brush between your thumb and the side of your index finger; lay out on a flat, dry towel as before.
7. Coconut Oil + Liquid Dish Soap + Hand Soap
From whitening teeth to aiding weight loss and even restoring the gloss back into your hair, coconut oil is also extremely effective at breaking down grime and dirt on your makeup brushes. It’s powerful anti-bacterial properties make it perfect for making sure your brushes don’t get clogged up with acne causing dirt. Not only is coconut oil great for cleaning the brushes, you are using a substance which contains properties that feed and moisturize the skin. Bonus! When combined with a natural liquid dish soap like Mrs. Meyer’s natural dish soap and her paraben and sulphate free hand soap and a little warm water it’s easy to make a dirt busting thick lather which will pull dirt out of the most stubborn of dirty brushes.
Simply mix one tablespoon of raw, unrefined organic coconut oil, with one tablespoon each of liquid dish soap and liquid hand soap with a little water to make a thick lather. Swirl each brush in the paste, changing up the direction to make sure all bristles are covered. Squeeze under a warm running tap and you should see the grime disappearing in front of you. Make sure the water is warm enough to get rid of the oil – no-one wants a greasy makeup brush. Repeat with all brushes. You can also use this method to clean makeup sponges or blenders. Be careful when squeezing under running water not to catch or tear the sponge as they can be fragile.