How To Clean Makeup Brushes

Given our current obsession with fall 2010 makeup trends, it's no surprise we've got a surplus of makeup brushes scattered about our boudoir: kabuki, powder, eyeliner, shadow, lip brushes...we love 'em all. But cleaning your makeup brushes is an often overlooked yet ridiculously important step in your makeup routine. A makeup brush a breeding ground for a mess of bacteria and dirt that can easily cause breakouts and, according to dermatologist Dr. Jeannette Graf, can pose a risk of infectious agents like fungus (ringworm), parasites, and viruses too. Another reason to lather up: Regular cleaning keeps brushes soft, easy to use, and makes them last.
We teamed up with makeup artist Sonia Kashuk to give you the how-tos on keeping your brushes clean:
Kashuk says any makeup tool can become contaminated, "especially brushes used to apply concealer, eyeliner, lip color, and cream eyeshadows or blush. Plus, sponges and eyelash curlers are also common breeding grounds for bacteria." She recommends washing makeup tools weekly, "with the exception of brushes or tools that touch the eyes, which should be washed more frequently. If you have an eye infection or a cold sore, you should wash all of your tools and throw away any cosmetics you used during that time."
Tip #1: A quick and easy way to clean your brushes—daily or weekly—is to use a spray brush cleanser. Just spray on, rinse until the water runs clear, and air-dry.
Above, from left: Bare Escentuals Quick Change Brush Cleanser, $18, available at Bareescentuals; Bare Escentuals Well-Cared for Brush Conditioning Shampoo, $14, available at Bareescentuals; Sonia Kashuk Circle of Hope Kabuki Brush, $12.99, available August 22 through October 24 (with 15 percent of the purchase price to benefit BCRF) at Target.
Tip #2: Specialized liquid cleansers work too, or try a gentle baby shampoo.
Above, from left: Urban Decay's eco-friendly, vegan, and cruelty-free Good Karma Blending brush, $26, available at Urban Decay; Shading brush, $26, available at Urban Decay; Topshop Retractable Lipliner brush, $8, available at Topshop;Topshop Kabuki brush, $16, available at Topshop; California Baby Super Sensitive Shampoo & Bodywash, $11.49, available at Target.
Tip #3: If your makeup brushes are beyond help, invest in new ones for fall.
Above, from left: Sephora Purifying Brush Shampoo, $14, available at Sephora; Bobbi Brown Denim & Rose Mini Brush Set, $55, available at Bobbi Brown.