Dirty Brushes


Posted on February 19th, by staff in Makeup. 10 comments

Dirty Brushes

By Allana Mirza

As a makeup artist I am often invited to the homes of my clients, where I have witnessed many beauty related offences that would make any professional MUA shake there heads in disapproval. The number one offence: dirty makeup brushes! I get it, you may be wondering “Why should I have to clean brushes that I use on myself?”  Experiments have proven that makeup brushes not only harbour left behind makeup, but also house dead skin cells, bacteria, and found traces of fecal matter (ick!).

I would like to introduce you to Dirty Brushes Judy, one of my executive clients. Dirty Brushes Judy has a fast paced lifestyle and doesn’t have time to floss her teeth let alone to clean her brushes. With daily use her makeup brushes started to accumulate bacteria, and other gunk that eventually caused Judy to have severe breakouts. Thinking it was hormonal she thought it would clear on its own. During a session with Judy I mentioned my concern about the condition of her skin as it had drastically changed from the last time I saw her. Dealing with previous accounts with dirty brush related break outs, I asked her how often she cleaned her makeup brushes and the routine she used to do so. To my dismay Judy said “I never have.” (ICK!)

After brush cleaning 101, Dirty Brushes Judy was dirty no more and her skin started to clear up.

Lets get this brush cleaning party started. Firstly, all personal makeup brushes should be given a deep cleanse once a month and a light cleanse once a week. Oils, dirt and makeup get trapped in brushes and will break down the bristles over time, so cleaning them actually preserves them, as well as prevents bacteria related breakouts.

5-Steps to Cleaner Makeup Brushes

Step 1: Using a brush cleaner or 70% alcohol, lightly wipe the bristles back and forth on a paper towel. The friction will help lift any left behind product, oils and so on.

Step 2: Immerse bristles in a bowl filled half way with warm water., Be careful not to immerse the metal casing, known as the “ferrule”, this will cause the glue that holds the bristles together to break down- not a good thing.

Step 3: Squeeze a few drops of mild shampoo (baby shampoo works great) into the palm of your hand. Gently swirl the brush into your palm. I often use a scalp massage brush to really get into the bristles, especially my powder brushes.

Step 4: Thoroughly rinse the bristles until the water runs clear.

Step 5: As you gently squeeze out excess water, reshape the bristles. Always allow your brushes to dry on their side hanging over the edge of your counter. To avoid water getting into the ferrule do not dry standing up. Allow your makeup brushes to dry overnight.

Quick weekly maintenance: Wipe brushes with unscented baby wipes. You can also spritz the bristles with makeup remover or 70% alcohol and wipe them off on a paper towel.

For those of you who like to use makeup sponges to apply foundation, you should consider investing in a higher quality sponge that can be washed often without breaking down. Beauty Blenders are a great option and come with their own cleansing solution.

So ladies you have the steps, now get those brushes cleaned. Thank me later!


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Allana Mirza is a Toronto-based makeup artist who believes that “Beauty starts from within and is reflected by the skin.” Visit her website MakeupLady.ca 





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