Brush Series | How I Thoroughly Wash My Brushes!

how to clean your makeup brushes

hello! welcome to the second post of my brush series – just a quick note as I am currently moving bedrooms (which is almost as stressful as moving house!) a few of my brushes have gone for walk-abouts so whilst I wanted to have more than 2 posts up already, I’ll have to blog as and when I can ._.

Why It Is SO Important To Wash Your Brushes

Ok so I’ve already established that it’s mighty useful to own a decent set of makeup brushes, and I’ve shared my ultimate favourites/must haves in this post here. However washing you brushes and keeping them as bacteria and dust free as possible is an absolute essential part of owning brushes. Put it this way, you’ve just used your spiffing buffing brush to apply foundation and even out the skin tone but regardless of how much you blend there will always be a little product left on the bristles. You continue using this brush for the rest of the week, probably not harmful for those of us with skin that isn’t super sensitive…but if you KEEP using that brush for a second, third even forth week? You are inviting a multitude of bacteria oil and dirt to be spread all over your face, which then leads to breakouts and clogged up pores like you wouldn’t believe! Not to mention the fact that brushes are an investment, and so should be cleaned thoroughly, using soap and water not just an alcohol based ‘brush cleaner’ (which dry the bristles out and are typically only recommendable to makeup artists who need a particular brush clean in a hurry.)

Some wash their main face brush every single day, but I don’t find it problematic to wait a week. I do however have a few face brushes floating around and rarely use the SAME brush for my base every single day of that week. If you don’t own a couple of face brushes and are noticing spots keep occurring, it’s definitely worth giving your brush a quick yet thorough clean a few times a week!

how to clean make up brushes properly magic soap olive oil

The Ingredients To A Thorough Brush Clean
Right so I’m going to be sharing with you beauties, the way I was my brushes. I started using this routine when I purchased my first real techniques brush set (around a year ago) and I can honestly say it has kept my brushes in a fantastic condition, and the bristles are as soft as they were when I first bought them. Some people choose to use baby shampoo as it is mild and cheap to source. 

I personally don’t think this shampoo is strong enough to thoroughly clean the bristles as it’s designed for those tiny, helpless delicate humans not for removing stubborn bacteria and oil! So instead I use Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap in either Lavender or Citrus (the latter being my favourite) and the amazing Extra Virgin Olive Oil!

how to clean make up brushes properly magic soap olive oil

The magic soap got its name because of its seemingly endless uses! ‘18-in-1 pure castile soap made with organic oils’ I mean really I could do a whole other post on how you can use these soaps (which come in a range of different scents) but the main stand out point is that it’s all organic. The key reason why most people choose not to use regular shampoo on brushes is because they stuff that washes our hair is full of harsh chemicals, so it’s important to find a solution which doesn’t dry the bristles out or damage them at all. I’m just reading the ingredients for the Lavender soaps and it contains coconut oils, jojoba oil, and olive oil all very conditioning and caring oils for the skin and hair. I find this thoroughly cleans my brushes with minimal effort but doesn't cause any damage to them, something which  dish soap or regular shampoo could.

Ok ok we get it! You love the magic soap! But why the EVOO I hear you ask, well! AGAIN this stuff could and probably will have a post dedicated to it’s awesomeness. But in short it is good for you inside and out and I just cannot get enough of the stuff. The fact that it’s pretty cheap doesn’t hurt either! Olive oil is the ingredient that keeps my brushes soft and kind to my skin. Using any soap (even the most mild) will eventually start to dry out the bristles, but adding some OO love keeps them soft and well conditioned! Some people like to dip their brushes in Olive oil and water AFTER washing, but I don’t like the residue that is left on the brushes so I tend to mix these two together in order to get the perfect brush cleanser.

The How-To
To clean your brushes like they have never been cleaned before you will need;
  • Dr. Bronner’s magic soap/ any other mild liquid soap
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • A clean towel (a flannel will do if you own a couple of brushes)
  • A bowl
  • Access to a tap
  • Something interesting to watch while you clean (optional)
how to clean make up brushes properly magic soap olive oil

And that is all! I think it’s pretty straightforward from here on out, but I shall list out exactly how I clean mine just to give you an idea.

1. Half fill the bowl with luke warm water and 10-12 drops of liquid soap

2. Take the back of a makeup brush and swirl it in the water, doesn’t look soapy enough? Add more magic soap.

3. CAREFULLY add 4-5 drops of Olive oil. This is tricky and can be overdone – so all concentration necessary at this point.

how to clean make up brushes properly magic soap olive oil
4. Repeat step 2. *swirls*

5. Roll your sleeves up, dip a brush into the soapy solutions and then swirl it in the palm of your hand. The bristles should lather up! Make sure you thoroughly swirl, because makeup could be clogged up right to the very top of the bristles so all areas of the brush head need to be covered! If you’re washing a brush that’s been ‘heavily’ stained/covered with makeup add a couple of drops of the soap to the palm of your hand, THEN swirl the brush in, it’ll speed the process up.

6. IMPORTANT – if you own brushes that have a metal barrel (the RT ones do not!) then be sure not to get water or soap above that barrel. If you do, the glue holding the wood and metal together is more likely to start coming apart and the brush will end up breaking very quickly.

7. Continue doing step 5 till all your brushes are soaped up and lying there soaking in the clean goodness. Feel free to empty the bowl as frequently as you see fit/when you see the water colour change distinctly!

8. Take the towel and line it up next to the sink.

9. Under luke warm water start rinsing the bristles out. I like to let the water run through the brush hairs at first and then squeeze the brush head from the top so all traces of makeup is squished right out. I also continue with the swirling motion on my hand for face brushes – this helps distribute the water quicker.

10. Once they are all lying there rinsed out I like to GENTLY swirl them around on the towel, draining the majority of the water out and speeding the drying process out. For synthetic haired brushes this works wonders and you can pretty much use them within a few hours (though I like to let them dry overnight). I’ve seen a couple of videos where girls are vigorously rubbing the brush all over the towel as if it had some nasty diseases they wanted to remove – that will shorten the life of your brushes! Treat them gently and take your time!


11. When they’ve all had the swirly drying treatment, I like to wrap them loosely up with the other half of the towel (to protect from dust!) and leave them to dry over night on a flat surface. You can put them on an edge if you wish to drain them out that little bit quicker, but I generally find that by drying them to start with on the towel you’ve done most of the hard work already.

12. Final step is to wake up with the most satisfying sight ever, squeaky clean, soft as feather makeup brushes ready for use for another week! Oh yeah ^.^

how to clean make up brushes properly magic soap olive oil

And that’s all there is to it! The magic soap lasts ages because you don’t need much to get them super clean! It also has so many other purposes, comes in several different sizes and scents and best of all is full of the great natural stuff I can’t say enough good things about it! It is available from ASOS, feelunique and amazon.

A few TKMaxx stores stock this too so keep an eye out there.

Although it can be like a chore, washing your brushes is so important, and could actually improve your skin a great deal. Just imagine all the invisible bacteria on that used brush next time you splodge it across you face and that should be motivation enough! I hope you found this useful! Thank-you for reading ^_^