Everything you need to know about cleaning your makeup brushes

And yes, you do really need to do it

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Madeleine Spencer30 January 2024

I know, I know: yet another thing to do. But it is truly worth cleaning make-up brushes regularly for many reasons. First, you don't want a brush laden with make-up products that's had a chance to grow plenty of bacteria to touch your face repeatedly. This bit is not just for people with acne (though anyone suffering should be especially diligent about keeping brushes clean); Clinical Aesthetician Pam Marshall at Mortar and Milk tells me that she often sees clients with various skin issues who unbeknowst to them aren't making things better by applying make-up with dirty brushes. Add to that the increased likelihood of getting lip or eye infections thanks to a dirty brush and you've got quite an argument for keeping them clean.

If that isn't enough to make you go and wash yours right now, your make-up brushes will perform much better if clean. Makeup artist Sonia Deveney always advises her clients to start with clean brushes which will, she says, glide product on more easily, and blend much better than a brush caked with make-up.

But how often to clean them and, more importantly, how do you do it? Make-up artist Camilla Hewitt emphatically told me that brushes should be washed once a week "to prevent the build up of bacteria and to minimise breakouts." If you find you are using a lot of concealer or foundation brushes, you can give them a clean more often to make sure they're working properly.

The how while easy involves paying attention to a few steps to ensure the longevity of your brushes. Here are Camilla's steps tp getting clean brushes without any damage whatsoever:

1. Take your brush and make it damp in lukewarm (never hot) water.

2. Massage a brush cleanser into the bristles. Camilla suggests that if oil-based products just won't budge, you can use washing up liquid.

3. Pat and gently squeeze the hairs of the brush with a towel once clean - don't tug, and certainly don't use any force on the ends.

4. Lie the brushes down flat with the brush head over the edge of a work top so air can circulate around it to dry it off.

Voila! That's it. Very simple - but you now have to actually go and do it. After a good brush-cleansing product? Here are some good ones:

All-One Magic Soap

Dr Bronner's

This multi-purpose soap makes light work of removing all make-up from brushes - and it leaves a lovely clean scent on bristles.

Buy now£24.50, Holland and Barrett

Make Up Brush Cleanser

No 7

This affordable liquid brush cleaner is a pro favourite for good reason - it lifts make-up and leaves brushes completely clean.

Buy now Boots

Brush Cleanser


This both cleans and conditions brushes - unsurprising given that MAC is the OG brush brand.

Buy now MAC Cosmetics