How To Take Care of Your Makeup Brushes

brushcleaning04.JPGSo you’ve followed the advice: you decided to invest in makeup brushes. You religiously checking YouTube, blogs, Cosmetic Brushes Part II thread in FD Forum, and asking advice to friends.

Have this happened to you? You open a new brush, and you sniff it. “Hufff… is that a chemical smell?”

Tip #1: Wash new brushes before use

Many brushes are handmade, which means, you could cross-contaminate your eyes and face by not washing your brushes before use. Brushes are often treated by wax to keep the bristles in shape, which could explain the smell. Washing before use will also help to remove the chemical smell from the brush

Have you woke up one morning and see your brushes are dirty beyond reasons, they leave residue on your dresser table.

Tip #2: Keep your brushes clean

There are several ways you could clean your brush. One thing for sure: you can peruse things you already have at home: baby shampoo, gentle shampoo, sensitive skin cleanser (skin cleanser for problem skin could be too harsh). The reason is that you want a brush cleanser that is gentle and non-drying to keep bristles from breaking, excessively shedding, or getting brittle.If I put on heavier makeup in consecutive days, I would wash it every week; otherwise, every 2-3 weeks.

Here is an example of a brush-cleaning regimen:

  1. Prepare the following: baby shampoo (or other gentle cleanser of your choice), cool running water (hot or warm water will soften the glue), and clean towel.
  2. Wet the brush hair. Lather up the baby shampoo, and very, very gently, shampoo the brush hair. If the brush still seems too dirty, I usually swirl the brush head onto my palm slowly. Try to only wash the hair until the border of hair and ferrule, and not getting too much water into the border of ferrule and handle (where the glue resides inside). Do not immerse in water.
  3. Rinse thoroughly. And I mean, thoroughly. Very gently, get out excess water from the brush head. Wipe out water droplets from handles and ferrule.
  4. Shape the brush hair inward so that the brush retains shape while it dries.
  5. Lay the brush flat on the edge of a table (to let the water drips out of the brush) over a clean towel. Leave overnight or until completely dry.

Word of caution: as tempting as it may sound, do not use hairdryer to dry your brush. Quoting Darwyn, FD’s Kelas Dandan instructor, “You’ll kill the brush!”


Tip #3: Wipe your brush after use

This is especially true for gel eyeliner brushes. If you do not wipe it immediately, the excess gel will harden on the tip of your brushes. Wiping takes you 3 seconds, and it will save you a lot of time the next occasion you want to use it.

As for eyeshadow brush, you would want to at least remove excess colors from yesterday so that they will not to be mixed up with the colors you use today. It could also be the reason why your eye makeup gets muddy. Check your brush; it may hold a lot of colors from yesterday, the day before, last week (but hopefully, not from last month)

You are a person who insist on hygiene. During a makeup playdate, your friend ask to borrow your eyeliner brush, though you haven’t even reached the eyelining part (ie., you need to use it again later!). Now what?

Tip #4: Consider investing in professional brush cleanser

Professional brush cleanser was first invented to meet the needs of professional makeup artists. Runway make up artists needs to make up several models in different stylistic colors. They need brush cleanser to help them keep the brushes fresh and clean from excess products. Now, most of us are not makeup artists. Why do we even want to consider investing in brush cleanser?

It’s hard to expect that people have the time or simply remember to clean their brush regularly or often enough. Which is why I invest in professional brush cleanser (in this case, I am referring to MAC Brush Cleanser, IDR 110,000 or $10). Brush cleanser not only quick-clean your brushes, but also dry your brush in minutes (compared to overnight if using water-and-shampoo regimen). Depending on the type of bristle and the size; small synthetic bristle will take around 5-10 minutes to dry, while natural-haired, larger-sized brush will take 20-30 minutes. Additionally, the special agents in professional cleanser also recondition the bristles.

While I don’t think a brush cleanser is a substitute to the water-and-shampoo routine, it could be the answer for your in-betweens washing schedule (it prolongs the number of days between washes). You could use it if you simply forget to wash them, or too lazy (which happens a lot), or the playdate scenario (see above).

How to use MAC Brush Cleanser: Pour the MAC Brush Cleanser on paper towel, and swirl your brush on the paper towel to get the make up pigments out. Lay flat until dry. Each brush would take less than 2 minutes to clean.

Is there such thing as brush troubleshooting? Yes. Sort of.

Tip #5: Shedding? Don’t freak out

It is normal for a brush to shed some hairs a little, especially during first few washes (note the phrase “first few washes”). Good quality brushes are handmade, and there could be some hairs left over from the trimming process. However, if the shedding gets disturbingly much, or often leaving brush hairs on your face, there could be a problem with your brush (or your brush quality).

Tip #6: Restoring out-of-shape brushes

Note: This tip would be applicable for synthetic brush.

Old brushes could get of shape, with its hairs fanning out of proportion.

Mona Lisa Brush Restorer(available from craft stores) could help restoring the shape of your brush. The brush restorer is basically a wax-like substance that keeps the bristles come together. This may not make your brush like new again, but may help alleviate the problem. Unfortunately, I do not think this method is recommended for brush made of natural bristles. If it happens, it might be a sign for you to shop a new brush.


To close, do share your tips in maintaining and preserving your beloved brushes so you could achieve those great looks!

*first image courtesy of