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How can you clean makeup brushes?

Carrie’s Curious About Cleaning: I am an aspiring makeup artist and I’m wondering what the best way to clean and disinfect my makeup brushes would be. In Cosmetology school we used Quaternary Ammonium Compounds to disinfect hair brushes but how can I disinfect brushes I use on the face? If you have any great ideas let me know. I want to protect my clients as best as I can.

The Right Brain brushes up on cleansing:

Thanks for the question Carrie. Unfortunately, there’s not a simple answer. In reality, there are many disinfecting chemicals available – the Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (called Quats for short) are one of the most common. But when you become a professional make up artist, you’ll need to make sure you’re following the local state regulations for cosmetologists and those regulations usually specify some kind of sanitization protocol for brushes. You should be able to find out more by doing a web search for the state you’re in. (You’re probably in a state of confusion at this point!) Now, having said all that, we can steer you toward a couple of not-necessarily-approved-by-state-regulatory-agency methods for cleaning make up brushes:

3 ways to clean makeup brushes

1) The Colorescience Brush company says this about their brush cleaner:

“This pharmaceutical grade aromatherapy spray gently cleans make up brushes with natural ingredients. Its alcohol and hydrogen peroxide formulation helps purify and quick dry your Colorescience brushes.”

2) A manufacturer of squirrel hair brushes (no, we’re not making this up) recommends the following:

“There are many brush cleaners available. Two excellent brands worth mentioning are Masters Brush Cleaner & Preserver and “Pink Soap” Artist Brush Cleaner and Conditioner. They both clean and rinse out very well. Moreover, they help condition your makeup brush hair. They are available at any good art supply store.”

The Beauty Brain’s attorneys won’t let us comment on the viability of using art supplies to clean your make up brushes, but hey, if it’s good enough for squirrels… But seriously, you should check out their website just to see their instructions on how to clean and dry brushes – they’ve got some good tips.

3) Finally, here’s a tip from a consumer at one of our fave sites, Smartskincare.com:

“After cleansing your face in the morning, you are more than likely spreading bacteria back on your face when you apply make-up with a brush. Makeup brushes are breeding grounds for bacteria. To help keep my brushes clean after each use, I simply wipe each brush back and forth over an inexpensive anti-bacterial wet wipe before putting them away. (You can actually see the makeup and blush residue deposited on the wipe!) Your brushes will be dry in about 3 minutes and stay much cleaner in between washings. This helps to keep breakouts to a minimum.”

Interesting. We’re not sure if this is scientifically valid, but interesting.

The Beauty Brains bottom line:

To be honest, we’re not really experts in brush cleaning. But there are a lot of products out there so we suggest you check with a local beauty school for their recommendations.

What do YOU think? Do you have any brush cleaning tips to share with the rest of the Beauty Brains community? Leave a comment!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Anita December 22, 2013, 3:19 pm

    I’m trying to find out if the Colorescience make-up brushes should be taken apart from the tubed makeup to clean. It seems that, if you leave the brush on the makeup tube, you won’t be thoroughly cleaning the brush?

    • Randy Schueller December 22, 2013, 7:18 pm

      Anita: I’m not familiar with the specifics of the Colorscience brushes but here’s a link where you directly ask questions of one of their makeup experts. Hoepfully this will help you: http://www.dermstore.com/uppro_597928.htm. Let us know what you find out!

    • Angela July 27, 2016, 5:40 pm

      You can remove the product by unscrewing the bottom and then wash the brush as you would any other brush. Just make sure that it is completely dry before putting the powder back in to prevent clumping/clogging. I recommend waiting a full 24 hours.

  • Deanna Jones July 31, 2015, 1:37 pm

    Thanks for the tips! I was really surprised to see that using a squirrel hair brush can be used to clean makeup brushes. It seems like I should look into using one, because simply washing my brushes with water hasn’t been working well for me. I liked the tips from your customer to sanitize brushes. It seems like wiping them on an antibacterial wet wipe would be a good way to disinfect them after using it on your face.