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One thing that took me a long time to figure out was how to clean my makeup brushes successfully and which products to use to make sure they don’t break me out. Eventually after finally getting good quality makeup brushes this past Christmas I have developed a system to share with you today. I also will include photos and steps to follow. I believe that you can apply this steps to any makeup brushes, although I have only ever used either target brand, E.L.F., and Real Techniques brushes.

Step 1: Have two large dish towels ready: one for (gently) squeezing water out of the brushes, the other to put the freshly cleaned brushes on to finish drying.

Step 2: Fill two high rimmed bowls with hot water (this helps to kill any bacteria living in the brushes). The using unscented soap (I use Dr. Bronner’s unscented because one bottle lasts forever) put two squirts into one of the bowls.

Step 3: Starting with whatever brush you choose, place it in the bowl of water with the soap and swirl it around for about ten seconds. Then, move the brush to the next bowl and swirl for another ten seconds.


Step 4: This next step is optional but I feel like it really cleans my brushes and gets rid of any left over soap. Turn your sink’s facet to cold and hold your brush under it, squeezing and rubbing gently for five to seven seconds.

Step 5: Use the a fore mentioned towel to gently squeeze the brush dry. After doing this I often lay the towel flat and brush the brush back and forth across it for about ten to fifteen seconds (or until I feel that the brush is mostly free of extra water).

Step 6: Lay the brush out on the next towel to finish drying completely.

Step 7: Repeat steps 3-6.


Step 8: Like step 4 this is optional. Move the brushes to a safe location preferably a warm area or one with a fan to let them finish drying.

Step 9: Let the brushes dry COMPLETELY before using… I find that for eye shadow brushes this takes less than four hours but for large powder brushes roughly a day.


  • Wash your brushes at least every two weeks. Most dermatologists say that you can go a month in between washes but to me that seems a like a recipe for unpleasant breakouts.
  • Only use scented soap if you are 100% sure that it will not break your skin out and that you enjoy the smell enough for it to linger for a while.
  • Makeup brushes do take time to dry. If you are in the market for some fast(er) drying ones I suggest the Real Techniques brushes.
  • If the brush is retractable, I recommend washing with extreme care because sometimes water can get caught in the space where the brush retracts and it takes forever to get it out.
  • Clean your brushes gently, they are delicate and often expensive things, treat them with care and they will stay in great shape for years… treat them poorly and you’ll be on the market for new ones and out a substantially large chunk of money.
  • Only wash your brushes if you are planning on going at least a day without makeup, or if you have other brushes you can use while the others dry.
  • If the brush is especially dense, the drying time might be up to 72 hours… for these kinds of brushes I recommend cleaning them once a month.

I hope this post was helpful! Let me know in the comments below or on twitter if you want me to create other tutorials!