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5 makeup artists tell us how often they actually clean their makeup brushes

Photography by Tasha Tylee

Tips and tricks from the best.

Giving our makeup brushes a deep cleanse is something that far too many of us only do once in a blue moon when they’re looking particularly manky. But is it really that necessary, and if so, how often should we be doing it?

We spoke to five our favourite makeup artists about their well-honed brush cleansing routines and in a word, yes. It is pretty damn important, especially considering the state of the world right now – if anything, we need to be extra hygienic.

Because makeup artists clean their brushes so often (every single time they use them, obviously), they have it down to a fine art, and have a couple of handy brush washing hacks and go-to products that should help us all get into the habit of weekly brush washing.

Georgia Gaillard, freelance makeup artist

If you have a separate set of makeup brushes, how frequently do you clean them? I clean and sanitise my personal makeup brushes about once a week, depending on how much I’m using them.
Is this enough?
 I believe it is enough as long as no one else is touching them.
Any tips to make this nightmare of a job easier? Over the years I have had a few techniques, however, the best tool I have found is a little rubber brush cleaning mat. There’s a lot of brands that do them such as Sigma, Morphe, Real Techniques etc. However, the best one I have ever found I got from Target. I like it best because it’s small enough that I can hold it in my hand. This one looks identical. Another tip I have is to always lay brushes flat to dry. They will last longer!

Chris Arai, freelance makeup artist

If you have a separate set of makeup brushes, how frequently do you clean them? Wash them when I use ’em !
Is this enough? Yes, I believe so!
Any tips to make this nightmare of a job easier? Use a daily brush cleaner like Makeup Forever Instant Brush Cleanser, it’s an easy way to do it.

Raffaella Tomaiuolo, freelance makeup artist

If you have a separate set of makeup brushes, how frequently do you clean them? I do multiple set of brushes and I normally wash them after each use. It also can depend on how much makeup I am using on those days, but I tend to sanitise them frequently by using specific alcohol base products, with particular attention [paid] to lip brushes and eye brushes.
Is this enough? It is never enough! I am always trying to find better products and better ways to improve my cleaning routine!
Any tips to make this nightmare of a job easier? I know, brush cleaning can be the most boring part of our job, especially if you do have many brushes to wash. I normally do it at night and it is quite relaxing sometimes. Play some music and pour yourself a glass of wine while doing it, it probably won’t make it faster but definitely less stressful. I love washing them with antibacterial bar soap. If I am on set though, or during a wedding, I usually use alcohol-based products between one client and another.

Rob Povey, freelance makeup artist

If you have a separate set of makeup brushes, how frequently do you clean them? If you’re a daily makeup wearer, you should be cleaning your personal brushes once a week. If you’re a more sporadic wearer, try to not let it go more than roughly five to seven uses. Keep brushes sanitary and free of product build-up with a daily spritz of an alcohol brush cleaner like Cinema Secrets and then a more thorough wash with Dr Bronner’s Castille Liquid Soap once a week, leaving them out to properly dry overnight.
Is this enough? You only need to look at the state of the world at the moment to see that we could all benefit from upholding diligent and thorough hygiene practices, so you do the math. I mean, they go all over your face, eyes and lips!
Any tips to make this nightmare of a job easier? Cleaning a full set of brushes should really only be the bane of our existence for professional makeup artists who are washing our ENTIRE brush sets – anywhere between 50-100 brushes nightly. The average makeup enthusiast really only needs about three to five brushes and five to ten brushes for an intermediate to advanced wearer, so a weekly five to ten-minute wash shouldn’t be too much of a commitment.

Alphie Sadsad, National Artistry Lead Sephora ANZ

If you have a separate set of makeup brushes, how frequently do you clean them? Deep cleaning your brushes should be done on a weekly basis and shouldn’t be a chore. I always find cleaning your brushes in the evening before your nighttime skincare routine works best as it helps with letting your tools dry and [being] ready to go for the morning. Regarding your sponges, this should be done every day straight after each use. As sponges hold more moisture they are a breeding ground for bacteria. Tip – use an egg cup to store and dry your sponges.
Is this enough? Once a week would be sufficient for personal use brushes, but daily for sponges as they accumulate a lot of bacteria when they aren’t clean. So when you don’t wash your brushes, they naturally gather bacteria and dirt from the environment around them. A dirty brush/sponge is a primary breeding ground for nasty bacteria that can intensify your acne and other skin conditions.
Any tips to make this nightmare of a job easier? Cleaning your brushes in the evening during your nighttime skincare routine is the perfect time to make the job a lot easier as we have more time for ourselves. Letting it dry overnight is enough time for your brushes to completely dry and be ready for your morning joosh.

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