Forgive me readers for I have erred, and been away a bit too long. Funny how I have been “working” less but seem to be busier than ever. Fear not I am back! That is, there is no escape. Spring is on it’s way and so my thoughts, like everyone’s, turn to….spring cleaning, and I’m not talking about the house.

I’m talking about your makeup brushes!

I think I am probably preaching to the converted here, so you may already consider your makeup brushes as an investment. One of the best bits of makeup advice I can give is to invest in good quality brushes. Don’t feel you necessarily have to buy them all at once. If budget is an issue, save up and build your collection over time, brush by brush. Put them on your Christmas and birthday wish lists, or get a really good starter set and add from there. I sincerely believe that your art can be improved by excellent tools, so if makeup is a form of art, which I believe it is, then great tools, ie, your brushes and applicators, will improve your art and allow you to paint your canvas more effectively and with finesse.

I don’t recommend any one line, though there are some brushes from particular lines that I absolutely love and feel are a necessity to my work. I have brushes from many different sources and some might surprise you. I am going to talk later about a basic brush set, the ones, in my opinion, that will change your make up application for the better and allow you to do the best job of Best Face Forward. For now, I’m going to talk about how to protect the investment you’ve made once you’ve found the brushes that become your ideal ones. I became an expert brush washer during the year I worked at MAC Cosmetics when I was starting out my career in makeup. At the end of the night my favourite job was brush washing. I still love doing it. There’s something ultimately satisfying about taking care of your stuff.


As you can see, I have rather a large collection of makeup brushes, most real hair with some fantastic synthetics thrown in. I care for them all equally, depending on what they do and which products I use them for. I can go through loads of them in my professional life and wash/clean them after every use. In my personal life, I have six or seven brushes I use on a daily basis and I wash them every week of thereabouts, with maybe a spritz of a special brush cleaner to revive in between proper washes.

How you wash them depends on what you use them for. Real-hair brushes are generally better with dry products, and synthetics for cream products, through there are lots of great synthetics on the market now for any use.

Whatever the material of your brushes, these are the basic washing rules for dry product (powders, powder eyeshadows, blushes etc) brushes:

  • run the brushes under running water or dampen in a bowl of water, being careful not to let the water run into the metal part of the brush (This part is called the ferule and attaches the hair of the brush to the handle, so getting water in there can eventually loosen the adhesive and cause your brush to fall apart, so just dampen the actual hair/synthetic part).
Step 1: no shampooing without water
Lining up for Step 2: shampoo, it's like a salon for brushes!
Lining up for Step 2: shampoo, it’s like a salon for brushes!
  • using a cleaning product, lather up and work brush in the palm of your hand to clean it. You can use a special brush shampoo or cleanser (my all-time faves are London Brush Company Goat Milk Brush Shampoo
    and London Brush Company Vegan Lavender Brush Shampoo 
    which, in my opinion are 5-star products that clean, condition and restore your brushes. Diluted baby shampoo works well too. Remember to be gentle with the brushes as many of these ones are made of real hair and should be treated kindly.
London Brush Company’s solid brush shampoos make cleaning easy and cruelty free
lather up and work the shampoo into the brush hairs
  • next, rinse the brushes, using fresh water. You will be left with “tufty” but clean brushes!
Call me Mr Tufty
Call me Mr Tufty
  • flick the brushes to get rid of most of the water. Aim them at something you don’t mind getting wet, like the bathtub or shower, but not the dog. Do this a few times.
  • next step is to blot them on paper towel to get rid of as much moisture as you can
blot me
blot me, blot me, anyway you want me, that’s alright
  • Then comb them. Yes, you heard me! take a fine-toothed comb and gently run it through the hairs of the brush. The reason for this is two-fold. Firstly, it puts air back into the brush so it will dry faster, and secondly, it reduces the opportunity for bad stuff like mould and bacteria to grow in them. So don’t skip this one
comb me
  • Re-shape the brushes before they dry so that they really are like brand new when they’re ready to use again. Get all the points back into your soft brushes. No more Mr Tufty.
shape me
  • the last thing to do is to lay the out FLAT to dry. I put mine on paper towel or a clean tea towel to absorb any water that might be left. Do NOT dry them standing up in a container, this causes water to enter the ferule as mentioned before which is bad in the long run, and they will not keep their shape either. The best brushes have an overnight dry and are ready to take on the beauty world the next day!
OCD? Not I! Note that I set them out by size in descending order. I just do.
Lay me out to dry. OCD? Moi?! I set them out by size in descending order. I just do.

And there you have it. How to clean your brushes!

For the brushes you use with cream or emollient products, such as concealer, lipstick and cream products. There’s an extra step at the beginning for these bad boys: simply dip in 99% isopropyl alcohol (taking care not to let any liquid touch the metal part of the brush) or specialist cleaners to remove most of the emollient product, wipe off on a paper towel, then follow same instructions for other brushes.


If you are using a few brushes most of the time and only changing the colours you use, another good fix is to get a spray cleaner and do a quick clean in between proper washing. One of my favourites is by the Canadian organic company, Eminence. They make a really great natural brush cleaner with coconut extract Eminence Organics Brush Cleaner.
Simply spray it onto a paper towel then swirl your brush around on it and let dry. Brushes smell lovely after using it! The only thing I would say about it is the packaging is not that sturdy so put it in a quiet corner in the drawer or cupboard until you need to use it. If I carry it around with me it always falls apart 🙁

Eminence Organics Brush Cleaner with coconut extract

So that, hopefully, is all you need to know about Spring Cleaning the tools of your trade. Take care of your makeup brushes and applicators and you will have them for a long time.


PRODUCT REVIEWS does not receive any monetary compensation to review products. Most reviews are based on products purchased personally, and preferred, or not. Occasionally I will receive products from makeup companies and will choose whether or not to review them here. Receiving products has no bearing on the opinion of the review, nor whether I choose to review it or not. All opinions are just that, and are honest and unbiased. Recommendations are based on the knowledge I have gained during almost twenty years as a professional Make-Up Artist. is not to be held responsible if you decide to purchase an item and are dissatisfied with it.

I'm a British / Canadian Pro MakeUp Artist with a colourful career: have kit, will travel, have info, will share! This blog is all about My Life In MakeUp. I hope you enjoy your time here and learn a little something along the way xo

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