The Only Brush Cleaner You Need is Right in Your Kitchen

We are dedicated to the ceremonious washing of our face twice a day, yet we continue to use dirty makeup brushes on the reg. I know I’m guilty of going a couple weeks without washing my brushes due to pure laziness, but when you think about it, there’s so much old makeup, oil, and bacteria trapped in those brushes that can lead to acne and wrinkles. Washing makeup brushes not only prolongs the life of our brushes, but also improves the health of our skin.


One thing that has held me back from washing my brushes is not having the brush shampoo, and let’s face it, brush shampoo can get expensive especially when it comes to how often we should be using it. There are plenty of brush shampoo recipes out there, some calling for products that don’t disinfect – I’m looking at you baby shampoo – this one however, uses common kitchen products and leaves your brushes clean and soft.

What You’ll Need

  • Dish soap
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Plate
  • Rolled up towel

After you’ve raided your kitchen for these products, you’ll begin by pouring some dish soap onto your plate. Make sure you’re using a dinner plate because the products will seep through a paper plate. The dish soap is used to disinfect and clean your brushes.

Next you’ll add some extra virgin olive oil to the plate. You should use about two parts dish soap to one part olive oil. The olive oil is used to condition the bristles after being stripped of oil and disinfected.


Once you’ve put together your cleanser, swirl your first brush in the cleanser (note: some makeup will begin to come off into your mixture), then move your brush back and forth in your hand to release the makeup from the brush and give it a thorough cleaning. Repeat these steps for the rest of your brushes.

When all your brushes have been swirled and cleaned with your homemade shampoo, you’ll need to rinse them off. Using warm water, cup your hand and move the brush in a circular motion to rinse it off. Be careful not to get the metal part of your brush damp because that will loosen the bristles and ultimately ruin your brushes.

Lastly, you’ll need to dry your brushes. A lot of brush cleaning tutorials will go through the steps of hanging your brushes upside with a brush guard to keep the bristles in shape – I don’t do that. I’ve tried this method and found it took a lot of time and half my brushes would fall off. I typically roll up one end of a towel so the handle of the brush can rest there, while being slanted down on the other part of the towel to dry. I don’t use brush guards either, I just reshape my brush and let it dry that way.


This super easy brush cleaner will make both your brushes and your skin much happier! For more information about brush cleaning, see my previous post Makeup Brush Cleaning 101.


Makeup Brush Cleaning 101

When was the last time you cleaned your brushes? Once upon a time I was that person who rarely ever cleaned her makeup brushes, but since I’ve learned the importance of it, I make the effort at least once a week. So, if you can’t remember the last time you’ve cleaned your brushes or they’re getting rough, you should probably give them a little love and a good cleaning.

Now I’m not saying clean them after every use, although you definitely can and that’s really great, but I am saying you should be cleaning them at least once a week. Cleaning your brushes is not only good for your skin, but also good for the brushes.

Good for your skin

Makeup brushes, whether used every day or a few times a week, pick up and harbor gunk. They pick up natural oils, dead skin cells, dirt, bacteria, sweat, tears, old makeup, new makeup and other debris every time you use them. It’s not healthy for your skin to keep sloughing around excess dirt each time you apply makeup. This can result in acne, fine lines and maybe a science experiment.

There are also some factors that make it more imperative to clean your liquid and cream product brushes more often than your powder product brushes. The moisture and product that stays with a liquid foundation brush or lip brush are better conduits for bacteria growth. Since powder product brushes typically do not harbor moisture, they can be cleaned every other week if you so choose.

Good for your brushes

Not only is cleaning your brushes good for you and your skin, but it is also good for your brushes! Makeup brushes are investments – I mean they can get pretty pricey and I doubt you want to buy a new $20 makeup brush every 6 months or so. Cleaning your brushes keeps them in tip top shape. It rids them of bacteria, makes them look as good as new and it conditions them. After I clean my brushes, they are super soft and luscious. Overall, cleaning your brushes extends their life, makes them soft and improves makeup application.

Step by step

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  • Dirty brushes
  • Brush cleaner – I like to use Real Techniques Deep
    Cleansing Gel. It’s easy to use and smells amazing. (Featured to the right)
  • Towel – for laying your brushes on to dry.
  • Bowl (optional)

The way I clean my brushes is super simple. I gather all my dirty brushes and brush cleaner and go to my bathroom sink. I take each brush, one by one, put some cleansing gel on them and with the sink running, I cup my hand and swirl the brush around on my palm making sure the water only touches the bristles. Instead of cupping your hand, you can always use a shallow bowl. I may reapply cleansing gel if I feel like the brushes aren’t as clean as I’d like them to be. I swirl them until the water runs clear and lay them flat on a towel to dry. If it’s a fluffy brush or a brush with a certain shape, I make sure to lay it in that shape for drying. Once they’re all clean and put on the towel, I let them dry overnight.

Important Tips

  1. Never submerge your brush in water. The only part of the brush that should get wet is the hair of the brush. If the ferrule, or metal piece, of the brush gets wet, it loosens the glue that keeps the bristles attached to the brush which will ultimately ruin your makeup brush.
  2. Never dry your brushes standing up. See above. Your brush will shed and it will be ruined.
  3. Use cleaning products that you would feel comfortable using on yourself. There are plenty of DIY brush cleaners and brush cleaners with different cleaning agents, but use something that you feel comfortable with. If you have sensitive skin, use a light and or organic cleaner.
  4. Make sure to not leave behind any residue. When cleaning your brushes it is important that during the rinsing process the water eventually runs clear. There shouldn’t be any makeup residue or cleaning residue left behind.

6 Makeup Brushes You Need To Own

Whether you’re new to makeup and building your brush collection or you’re a veteran with every brush under the sun, it can be difficult to decide which makeup brushes to tote around in your makeup bag. Since makeup brushes are essential to great makeup application, here’s a list of brushes every girl needs to have.


Face brushes

Small Stipple Brush (e.l.f.): The Small Stipple Brush is perfect for applying liquid foundation. The dual layers of bristles make it easy to build coverage from sheer to heavy. Overall, it leaves your foundation looking natural and airbrushed.

Total Face Brush (e.l.f): Every makeup bag needs a big, fluffy face brush! The Total Face Brush is super fluffy and soft. It’s perfect for all over setting powders, all over facial bronzing and full-face touchups.

Small Concealer Brush (e.l.f.): The Small Concealer Brush is a staple for every makeup bag to gently apply concealer under the eyes and on any blemishes. I like to use this brush to clean up and highlight under brows after filling them in. The small bristles allow for precise application.

Eye & Brow Brushes

Eyeliner Brush (e.l.f.): The Eyeliner Brush is very versatile. Use it to apply wet or dry eyeliner formulas close to the lash line or use it to help shade in your brows. I personally use it for the later for a natural looking brow. Either way, it’s an essential for every makeup kit because of its versatility.

Eyebrow Brush (e.l.f.): Use the Eyebrow Brush to groom your brows. Brush the hair up and to the side for a flawless, natural look. You can also use the eyebrow brush to separate and groom eyelashes.

Blending Eye Brush (e.l.f.): A Blending Brush is essential for achieving a soft and natural eye look. The soft bristles are gently on the eye allowing windshield wiper movement and other blending techniques. This type of brush is also great for other tasks like setting powder in small areas.

There you have it! These are 6 makeup brushes essential for any beginner or makeup veteran. I know the brushes I featured are by e.l.f., because that’s what I’ve typically bought based on durability and price. Other brands make similar brushes (similar uses, styles, bristles, etc.) – definitely worth checking out! Also, please note this is not a sponsored post.