Makeup Tips

5 Tools and Cleansers That Make Cleaning Makeup Brushes So Much Easier—and One Costs $3

Kara Jillian Brown

Photo: Getty Images / Guido Mieth
Washing makeup brushes is one of my least favorite activities. Not only is it an annoying use of time, but if you don’t have the right tools, it also hurts. You have to repeatedly swirl each brush around on your palm with soap and after a while, it feels like you’re gonna rub your hand raw.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. As celebrity makeup artists, Camara Aunique and Neil Scibelli go through way too many brushes to wash them all using their hands alone. But even at home when you only use your brushes on yourself, it’s essential to clean them.

“You never know what you’re picking up if you carry your brushes with you in your bag,” says Aunique. “But also, the oils on your face—you transfer that oil back to your skin every time you use [a brush], and you’re applying it to your product. Then maybe you find yourself breaking out. When you see that you’re starting to break out often, it’s because you’re transferring bacteria.”

Scibelli says you should wash your brushes once per week. Aunique stretches that to at least once every two weeks. Either way,  I know I’m not washing my brushes nearly as often as I should. Below, find some of the best makeup brush cleaning tools and cleansers to make the task a bit less of a chore.

5 makeup brush cleaning tools and cleansers

1. Sigma Beauty Spa Brush Cleaning Mat, $35

Sigma Beauty Spa Brush Cleaning Mat

Scibelli loves all of the Sigma to use this brush cleaning mat.

“It’s a plastic surface with wedges in it, so it makes it really easy and effective to soap up your brushes on,” says Scibelli. The pad has seven distinct textures on it so you can pick b the ones that work best with the fibers and size of your brushes.

Shop now: Sigma Beauty Spa Brush Cleaning Mat, $35

2. Sigma Beauty Sigmagic Brush Shampoo, $19

Sigma Sigmagic Brush Shampoo

Scibelli pairs his Sigma cleaning glove with this brush shampoo. The all-natural cleanser deep cleans brush bristles to remove even the toughest pigment and foundation stains while conditioning them. “It literally gets every last drop of makeup off,” Scibelli says.

Shop now: Sigma Beauty Sigmagic Brush Shampoo, $19

3. Iconic London Brush Cleaning Mat, $11

Iconic London Brush Cleaning Mat

Aunique loves this handheld cleaning mat.

“It’s a really cute mitt that you just put on your hand,” she says. “You pour some soap on the mitt, and it has ridges, and you just basically rub it through to clean your brushes.”

Shop now: Iconic London Brush Cleaning Mat, $11

4. Beautyblender Blendercleanser Pro Solid, $45

Beautyblender Blendercleanser Pro Solid

Both Aunique and Scibelli love using the beautyblender blendercleanser for makeup brushes. Scibelli says the charcoal makes it super powerful.

Shop now: Beautyblender Blendercleanser Pro Solid, $45

5. Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid, $3

There’s a solid chance you already have this at home.

“I also use Dawn dishwashing liquid detergent, because that takes the oil out,” says Aunique. “It takes the grease out of the brushes, so they’re basically really easy to clean.”

Shop now: Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid, $3

Brush cleaning and drying tips

When washing your brushes, Aunique says to make sure you’re always holding the brush with the bristles pointing down.

“I like to keep the brushes upside down when I’m cleaning so that you don’t get water in the base of the brush,” says Aunique. Once you get water in the base the glue starts to get loose. You’ll notice some of the hairs falling out and the base may even detach from the brush. The same goes for when you’re drying your brushes, says Scibelli.

“If your sink has space, you can also align them so the brush part is leaning over the edge, facing the sink so they can drip dry,” says Scibelli. “You can also lay them flat on a double layer of paper towel overnight.”

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