Perfecting a killer smoky eye or Insta-worthy contour and highlight requires time, skill, and usually more make-up brushes than we care to admit. From softly tapered eyeshadow brushes to fat and fluffy blusher brushes, your tools of the trade are crucial to nailing any look.
But how often should we wash our make-up brushes? And do we really need to bother?
Complexion-wise, keeping our brushes clean has been linked to the reduction of breakouts and bacteria build-up. Skin lecturer and award-winning facialist Jennifer Rock writes on her blog, The Skin Nerd, that skin infections due to dirty make-up brushes are “completely preventable”… simply get cleaning!
It may seem a time-consuming task, but it doesn’t have to be tricky.
And from a make-up perspective, cleaner brushes keep your look fresh, stopping pigmented powders from becoming ‘murky’ and less vibrant. It may seem a time-consuming task, but it doesn’t have to be tricky.
“My favourite cleaning method is simply using warm water, shampoo and my hands”, explains TV make-up artist, Siena Powloski. “I squirt shampoo into the palm of my hand and swirl each brush until it completely foams and removes all product, then rinse thoroughly.” If you’re super into a squeaky-clean finish, you could even try dipping each brush into pure alcohol after this. Siena uses isopropyl alcohol between clients so she knows they’re properly disinfected for each new face.
For those with sensitive skin, try an alcohol-free cleanser that’s going to be kinder to your complexion. Australian Bodycare’s Skin Wash is perfect for skin prone to irritation. It’s formulated with 2% tea tree oil, with antiseptic properties that will give your brushes a thorough clean without leaving any potentially irritating residue.
To tackle the more stubborn characters in your brush arsenal, such as those used for pigment-heavy lipstick, Siena recommends soaking each brush in an oil-based eye or lip make-up remover first to really lift the product. We love the White Flowers Eye & Lip Make-Up Remover from Elemis as not only does it expertly remove waterproof formulas, it also leaves brushes feeling wonderfully soft and smelling divine.
And don’t forget, how you dry your brushes is just as important as the washing.
While make-up artists usually wash their brushes after each client (sometimes more than three or four times a day!), Siena reassures us that non-professional beauty lovers should whip out the shampoo far less often. “I wash my own personal make-up brushes about once or twice a week”, she confirms. “And I sometimes use conditioner too if the brush hairs are starting to feel a little coarse.”
If your selection of tools could still rival any professional’s, Siena recommends grouping your brushes by use and washing in batches. Set a bit of time aside to do your lip brushes one day, shadow brushes the next and complexion brushes on another so that getting them all clean doesn’t seem like an impossible task.
And don’t forget, how you dry your brushes is just as important as the washing. Siena says to keep them flat, never upright, as excess water can run down the handle and weaken the glue that bonds the hair to the base. “I leave my brushes laid out straight on a towel with plenty of space”, she advises, “so they can all dry evenly and it will not affect the shape.”
Now that you’re armed with the best brush-washing technique, we advise getting yourself into a good routine. If mid-week nights are usually quiet, use this time to treat yourself and your collection to a little TLC. Smooth on a face mask, put on your favourite podcast and get swirling.