How to clean make-up brushes – the complete guide (and what NOT to do)

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  • It's easier than you think!

    If you use them, even if it’s just one, then it’s absolutely essential that you understand how to clean make-up brushes properly. And, hey, we’re guessing you have enough time on your hands right now to give your brushes some love.

    Let’s be completely honest, you can rarely be arsed to give your tools a good old clean. But, as Australian model Anthea Page stressed with photographic evidence, you should never skip washing your make-up brushes. Ensuring you have clean make-up brushes helps you avoid a whole host of skin problems, including nasty infections.

    The best make-up brushes deserve proper love and care, so we’ve broken down everything you need to know about cleaning them. From exactly how you should clean your tools to how often they need a wash, you’ll be a pro in no time.

    How often should you clean make-up brushes?

    This will vary a little depending on how often you use your make-up brushes. If you use them on a daily basis, then you’re going to need to clean them more than if you use them a couple of times a week.

    But no matter how often you use them, brushes are a breeding ground for bacteria. We say give them a deep clean at least once a week, and ideally use a cleaning spray between uses to freshen them up.

    We like bareMinerals Quick Change Brush Cleaning Spray, £10, or NYX On The Spot Brush Cleanser Spray, £9.

    And, as any professional make-up artist will tell you, if you use your make-up brushes on other people they must be cleaned after every single use, to avoid the spread of skin conditions or infections.

    How to clean make-up brushes at home

    Cleaning your make-up brushes is a lot easier than you might think – it can be done in the comfort of your own home (specifically, your bathroom or kitchen).

    Start by rinsing under running water to get some of the excess make-up out of the brush. Then work ordinary shampoo or dish soap into the damp brush head, and rinse. ‘I find dish soap works really well because it’s made to remove oils, so it works really well for your brushes, says Vincent Ford, Global Make-up Artist for NARS. ‘When you use an antibacterial soap, it’s also going to disinfect the brush.’

    Hold your brushes downwards when rinsing, so that all of the excess oil and old make-up washes straight down the sink. When the water runs clear, squeeze the excess out from the brush. When they are damp – not wet – stand them in your make-up brush holder or over the edge of a table to dry.

    ‘The worst thing you can do for brushes is [leave them to] dry while they’re wet,’ Vincent explains. ‘The water will go into the base of the brush and make the glue kind of separate from the brush handle.’

    Ace brush brand Real Techniques have two products that make the cleansing process that little bit easier, below.

    Real Techniques Brush Cleansing Gel, £6.99, Lookfantastic

    how to clean your makeup brushes real techniques

    Buy now

    Douse your brushes in this – it rids the bristles of oil, make-up and impurities – then work them over the nodules on the palette to really get rid of every last speck of dirt.

    Real Techniques Brush Cleansing Palette, £12.99, Lookfantastic

    how to clean your makeup brushes real techniques

    Buy now

    We’re also completely obsessed with The Apprentice winner, Tom Pellereau’s StylPro Makeup Brush Cleaner and Dryer, £29.95. This super duper piece of technology cleans and dries brushes in seconds, meaning that you can get back to using your brushes faster.

    how to clean makeup brushes Stylpro

    Buy now

    We bet you’ve never been so excited to go home and clean your make-up brushes.

    Whichever technique you choose, just make sure you’re doing it regularly. That’s an order.

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