The Right Way To Clean Your Makeup Tools, According To The Pros

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Our brushes are the backbone of our beauty routine. We rely on our tools to do everything from perfectly sculpting our face to giving us a Beyoncé-worthy glow. These sacred tools deserve our respect, and that means lathering up and cleaning our brushes and sponges on a regular basis to remove makeup residue, dirt and bacteria. Not doing your due diligence can lead to dull, acne-prone skin (or worse). Read on to get the ins and outs of cleaning your makeup tools, straight from the pros.

How Often

Most dermatologists and makeup artist agree that brushes need to be cleaned consistently to remove buildup and to preserve the quality of the tools. Brush bristles and sponges are porous, so they hold onto bacteria, debris and oils which then causes an uneven makeup application as well as blemishes. So, when using synthetic tools, “you should clean them after every use for an improved application,”explains Sue Katz, Founder, and CFO of Amazing Cosmetics. “But, if you are mostly using a natural fiber brush, they don’t need to be cleaned as often as they will lose their softness and bristles over time. Instead, spray a bit of alcohol on a cloth then swipe your brush every few days and do a full cleaning once a month.”

What To Use

For Synthetic Brushes

Similar to your hair, the dirtier your brushes are, the more thorough of a cleanse they’ll require. But just like our beloved locks, different brushes require different cleansers. For synthetic brushes, one of the most effective cleaners is conveniently found in your kitchen: dish soap. Yep, it’s strong enough to power through stubborn buildup on your dishes and makeup tools. Katz suggests, “taking one tablespoon of dish soap and water in a plastic cup and placing brushes in the solution to loosen up any product that’s inside.” Synthetic-based tools don’t have pores, which means the oils coagulate and cause the bristles to be weighed down and lose their shape. Laura Barnes, product development manager at Sigma Beauty, relies on two rounds of cleaning for brushes she knows will have a heavier product buildup like concealer and foundation.

For Natural Brushes

Natural fiber brushes are porous and need to be conditioned to avoid fraying and breaking. Katz swears by washing brushes in a mixture of “baby shampoo and conditioner” to ensure the softness and fluffiness remain intact. We take it one step further by swirling our brushes on our hand to loosen additional debris.

Ready to clean things up? Read on for our spick and span cleansing favorites.

Not only does this solid cleanser perfectly de-gunk brushes and sponges but its easy-to-use compact means you can clean your tools on-the-go.

Designed specifically for natural brushes, this 100% natural virgin coconut oil formula prevents new bacterial growth for up to two weeks.

The size of this product isn't the only reason this cleaner is loved by professional makeup artists. It's formulated with citrus spirits to thoroughly cleanse, condition and disinfect all types of makeup, from liquids to wax-based.

Gentle enough for synthetic and natural brushes, this heavenly smelling cleanser contains natural oils, so brushes are left clean and touchable.

This coconut cleaner quickly works to break down existing buildup and prevents new bacteria from forming.

If you are breakout prone, these paraben-free brush wipes will become your new BFF. They're super portable and allow you to give your favorite tools a service-level clean after each use.

A total tool of the future, this battery-powered device can effortlessly clean and dry up to eight brushes at a time. Perfect for those who want instant, guaranteed clean results.

This completely dry sponge has a unique texture that grabs onto pigment within the brush, so you can quickly remove and clean your brush in between color use.

Take your cleaning routine, one step further with this collapsible brush rack that takes the guesswork out of where you'll dry your brushes post-cleanse. It has 26 slots of differing sizes to accommodate a variety of brushes and prevent bristle breakage.

A little goes a long way of this thick detergent that instantly cleans brushes without leaving residue or causing shedding.