How To Actually Clean Your Disgusting Makeup Brushes

We'd love to say that all of our makeup brushes live in a beautiful, sterile box on top of our boudoir where we delicately sweep them over our faces each morning as we chant our daily mantras. But we live in New York City, people. A boudoir is about as common as a West Village apartment with in-building laundry. The reality is that our brushes and sponges are scattered throughout our bathrooms, tossed in bags, whipped out on the subway, and, in short, really, really gross.
And while many of us can't remember the last time we cleaned them, we know deep down that it's the most important thing you can do for your skin. A makeup brush is a breeding ground for bacteria and dirt that can easily cause breakouts and, according to dermatologist Dr. Jeannette Graf (MD), can pose a risk of infectious agents like fungus (ringworm), parasites, and viruses too. Yikes.
Makeup artist and owner of her synonymous brand Sonia Kashuk says any makeup tool can become contaminated, "especially brushes used to apply concealer, eyeliner, lip color, and cream eyeshadows or blush." 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."
Okay, we get it — we have to wash our brushes! But how? We broke down our favorite methods in the following slides.
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Brush Shampoo

Brush shampoo is arguably the most popular way to deep clean your brushes. Squirt some onto the damp brush and wipe it against the palm of your hand several times. Rinse until the water runs clear.

Real Techniques Deep Cleansing Gel, $8.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
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Brush Mitt

Washing your brushes can do a number on your hands, which is why silicone mitts come in handy. This one has three different textures designed to clean any brush. Use the larger round nubs to lather and wash face brushes, the smaller textures to clean eye brushes, and the wavy section to rinse.

E.L.F. Makeup Brush Cleaning Glove, $10, available at E.L.F.
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Solid Cleanser

Think of this as a bar soap for your sponge. After wetting it, massage it over the soap until it produces a light foam. Then, squeeze it under warm water until, you guessed it, the water runs clear.

BeautyBlender Solid Cleanser, $16, available at Sephora.
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Daily Brush Cleanser

Spray-on brush cleanser is the easiest way to clean your brushes with minimal effort. Sure, it won't give your brushes a deep clean, but it will quickly disinfect them quickly in a pinch. This one from Pure Brush is great because it sprays on dry, meaning you can put your makeup on right after.

Pure Brush Cleaner, $19.99, available at Pure Brush.
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