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Best Ways to Clean Your Makeup Brushes

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Best Ways to Clean Your Makeup Brushes

There are many methods available for cleaning makeup brushes. I’m going to share my best ways to clean your makeup brushes. I made a video to demonstrate my favorite method – Cinema Secrets Brush Cleaner (see the review).


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Products Used

Other Brush Cleansers I like and have purchased

As I mentioned in the video, I have hard water in my home. This leads to brushes building up with gunk after many washes, so they would just never feel right after a while, which led to me getting rid of them. I thought for a while it might be because they were cheaper (Sonia Kashuk, e.l.f. etc) but then some of the Real Techniques brushes I had did the same thing. I finally realized it was most likely the hard water. I didn’t find a solution until the Makeup Show Orlando (September 2013), and Cinema Secrets. It’s a total brush saver!

By the way, having the smaller, shallow dish is critical! For a while I was using a 1 cup measuring cup, which is very big, and I ended up wasting it. The smaller, shallow 2 oz ramekin works so much better. I have a set of 12 of those and they get used for things like dip, condiments, and now one is dedicated to brush cleaning.

The sprays I like to use for quick daily cleaning. The deep conditioning shampoo is good for a deep weekly cleaning. Though I really only reach for Cinema Secrets anymore. What I really love about the Cinema Secrets is that even the largest, densest brushes only take about 30 minutes to dry. Most brushes are dry within a minute! Plus they smell delicious like vanilla!

The way to clean your brushes, no matter if you’re using soap or a quick fix spray or Cinema Secrets is to use a figure 8 shape on either a hand towel or a paper towel. If you’re doing a deeper cleaning in warm water, make sure you get the brush wet first in warm water. Then have a bowl filled with warm water and soap. Dip your brush into the bowl and swirl it around. Do the figure 8 shape on the palm of your hand with the brush, to work away the debris. Rinse and repeat until the brush looks clean. Gently dry the brush off with a hand towel. Shape the bristles the way you like them. Lay the brush out to dry.

What are your tips for the best ways to clean your makeup brushes? Have you tried any of my methods?

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  • About Phyrra Nyx

    Phyrra is an award-winning cruelty-free beauty blogger. She is hair obsessed, into alternative fashion, an avid urban fantasy reader, and a standard poodle fan.
    • marciaf

      A shallow dish is good too so that you don’t dip the brush in too far and get more than the bristles wet. I tried Cinema Secrets but I’m so sensitive to fragrance and unfortunately it bothered me so I gave it to my sister.

      • http://www.phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        Oh no! That’s awful that the scent bothers you, but it is definitely a strong scent.

    • http://www.manifestdestany.com/ Destany

      I don’t have any tips of my own – I’m always soaking up other’s tips so I don’t end up tossing all my brushes!

      • http://www.phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        How do you end up cleaning?

        • http://www.manifestdestany.com/ Destany

          Generally I use warm water and blue Dawn. I suspend them and let them air dry.

    • kissmysparkle

      A few months ago, I broke down and spent the money to get a big bottle of Cinema Secrets, and I’m a convert! It’s so easy to clean my brushes now. I do find it interesting that you don’t use it for your Beauty Blender–it’s the only product I’ve found that will get deep-seated foundation out of my blender sponge!

      • http://www.phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        I’ve never tried Cinema Secrets with the blender, I’ll have to try! I always find it a pain to get it clean the way I like.

    • erikatheicyone

      I use 91% alcohol on my natural and synthetic brushes for spot and deep cleaning. I clean my brushes after every use and they show no signs of damage and are always sparkling clean and baby soft. I wash my Beauty Blender with foaming liquid hand soap. It gets right down into the sponge and digs the foundation out and gets it clean after each use. :)

      • http://www.phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        Good suggestion on the foaming soap, I’ll have to try that.

    • GlitteryGlossy

      I am hooked on baby shampoo. When I dont wash with baby shampoo, I use BE Quick Change brush cleaner. Thanks for the tips!

      • http://www.phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        You’re welcome :)

    • Heather Haskell

      I use a teeny pump of olive oil to get all the makeup out, then a teeny pump of Dawn to get the oil out, all under running warm water. Then I gently squeeze out as much water as I can and hang them brush side down overnight to dry.

      • http://www.phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        I bet olive oil does a great job conditioning

    • http://www.slashedbeauty.com/ Miranda Mendoza

      I’ve started using facial cleanser to clean my brushes and they’ve never been cleaner!!

      • http://www.phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        Yay :)

    • Tiffany Neill

      I’m extremely sensitive to scented things, so I use a sulfate-free unscented hand soap to carefully wash my brushes the way I saw Petrilude do it in a video a couple of years ago. I think he used baby shampoo! I do it about once a week (when I know I won’t be wearing makeup), and let them air-dry on a paper towel for a day.

      I do this for my paintbrushes too, taking care not to get the ferrules wet. In my high school art class, you started with an A in the beginning of class, and your grade went down if you got paint on the ferrule or got it wet while cleaning it.

      • http://www.phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        Wow! Yeah I know it’s very important to not get cleaner / water over the ferrule because it will loosen the binding.

    • Cosmetic Sanctuary

      Great tips! I use baby shampoo normally, but should look into more ways :)

      • http://www.phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        Whatever works best for you :) I just hate my hard water.

    • FabZilla_Kath

      I will try your techniques. I just use a regular shampoo and conditioner; sometimes I mix it w/ dishwashing liquid.

      • http://www.phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        I would think the dishwashing liquid would be very strong!

    • Farryn

      Thanks so much for sharing your tips, Phyrra! I usually use my facial wash to clean mine because I have sensitive skin, so I just assumed it would be better for me.

      • http://www.phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        I’ve used Philosophy’s Purity Made Simple (meant for the face and brushes) in the past.

    • http://www.blushingnoir.com/ Brooke @ Blushing Noir

      Great tips! I use a cleaner from MAC right now, but need to find something that works a little better and is much cheaper! I actually just ordered the one from EnKore from your link! wooo!

      • http://www.phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        EnKore’s cleaners are great.

    • http://www.tipsfornaturalbeauty.com/ Dima Al Mahsiri

      I usually use baby shampoo for my makeup brushes. But now I am curious about trying one of these , thanks for sharing !

      • http://www.phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        I’ve tried baby shampoo but I wasn’t really pleased with the results.

    • Julie

      I am going to pick this up…sounds like it would work for me. When you use the ramekin, do you dip multiple brushes in it, or do you rinse it out and add more of the Cinema Secrets?

      • http://www.phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        I dip brushes until it looks dirty. And when I’m doing a foundation brush, i save those for last, because they always release a lot of dirt.

        • Julie

          Thank you for your response! That helps:D

    • Anastasia

      Thank you for sharing these tips! I normally use the special beautyblender cleanser to clean my sponges, a mild soap for synthetic brushes, and a non-SLS shampoo for natural ones.

    • Harshleen

      Thanks for your tips. I have only tried the elf brush cleanser from your list but the Cinema Secrets one sounds great!

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    • Chia-Yi Liu

      Does the color come off onto the towel you are swirling around in?