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Keep Your Makeup Brushes Fresh with These Cleaners

Even people who have been applying makeup for years may not realize that dermatologists recommend cleaning makeup brushes at least once a week, particularly foundation and concealer brushes. This prevents both product and bacteria buildup on the brushes, which is not only better for your skin hygiene and cleanliness but reduces the risk of breakouts. It also extends the life and effectiveness of your brushes and their bristles. It’s important not only to clean your makeup brushes regularly but to do so properly. Washing them with regular soap and water won’t be quite enough to do the task properly. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools, mats, gels, and other types of cleaners designed to correctly cleanse your makeup brushes. Here are a few we recommend.

What Should You Consider in Makeup Brush Cleaners?

Here are a few things to think about before buying a makeup brush cleaner:

  • Type: There are quite a few different types of makeup brush cleaners from which you can choose. Solutions, shampoos, gels, sponges, and mats are all options. Mats and sponges are great options for traveling since they’re small and non-liquid-based, and you don’t have to worry about water or chemicals. Sprays, shampoos, and gels are quick and efficient, and most can be used on other makeup and grooming tools, not just brushes. Some of them also don’t require rinsing to be effective. Consider which of these types will be best for you and your needs.
  • Cost: Makeup brush cleaners are generally not very pricey items. However, it is worth noting that shampoo, spray, and gel cleaners will eventually get used up and need replacing, which will cost you more money in the long run. Whereas mats and sponges won’t need replacing unless they rip or break since they’re reusable. If you prefer to stick with a solution-based cleaner, buy it in bulk or multiple qualities if you can, as this will be more cost-efficient in the long run since you won’t have to buy new bottles as often.
  • Kits: If you want to be especially efficient at cleaning your makeup brushes or bought specialty or expensive ones, you may want to invest in a full-on cleaning kit. They’ll include not just the cleaning solution but specialty items like brush bowls or even electric spinners. They can also generally be used on any and all types of makeup brushes. Makeup brush cleaning kits can be a bit more expensive and in-depth than simple mats or gels, but if you own deluxe or luxury makeup brushes, you may find them worth the time and money.

Best Kit: Luxe Makeup Brush Cleaner

If you’re someone who uses makeup daily, buys expensive specialty or custom-made makeup brushes, or simply wants to take optimal care of your brushes, this cleaning kit has you covered. It includes a brush spinner, charging stand and cable, a plastic bowl, bowl splash guard ring, eight rubber collars, a 140-milliliter bottle of cleaning solution, and a manual to provide instructions on how to properly use all the tools. Thanks to the different components in the kit, you won’t have to spend hours cleaning your brushes or waiting for them to dry. It’ll have them fresh, pristine, and dry within a matter of seconds. This kit will clear your makeup brushes of dead skin cells, dirt, oil, and more to help keep your pores clearer and your brushes in better condition.

Best Kit

Best Gel: Real Techniques Brush Cleansing Gel

This is a makeup brush cleaner for those who prefer a cleansing gel to any other type. This formula is alcohol-free and non-drying to efficiently remove makeup residue, oils, and other debris without harming your brushes. It’s also been dermatologist tested and approved. The gel is simple to use. Simply dampen the brush bristles with warm water, apply a single drop of the gel to the bristles, rub them between your fingers, rinse them clean, re-shape the brush into the proper shape, and dry it. Cleaning once per week is recommended, as this will extend your brushes’ lifespan. Each packet contains just over five fluid ounces of gel, and since you only require one drop of gel per brush, the bottle will last you a good long while.

Best Gel

Real Techniques Brush Cleansing Gel, Packaging May Vary, White, 5.1 Fl Oz

An alcohol-free and non-drying makeup brush cleaning gel that is dermatologist tested and approved.

Best for Travel: MS.DEAR Color Removal Sponge

Traveling with toiletries can be a hassle. They can take up tons of space in your bag or contain too many fluid ounces to pack in your carry-on bag on airplanes, and many travel-sized, plane-friendly liquids may be too small to serve your needs if you’re going away for more than a few days. This sponge solves all of those problems. It comes stored in a small, compact tin that won’t take up room in your traveling bags or makeup bag, and the tin is also sturdy with a secure lid. It also provides a quick, efficient, and reusable way to clean makeup off your makeup brushes, able to clear off even vibrant and colorful eye shadows. All you have to do is run the brush across the sponge until the makeup debris is gone, allowing you to clean your makeup brushes off without water or chemicals. Both sides of the sponge can be used for this purpose. To clean the sponge, run it under the water with some soap once a week and then allow it to air dry.

Best Spray: MS.DEAR Makeup Brush Cleaner Spray

This makeup brush cleaner in spray form offers a gentle non-wash alternative to water. Not only is the formula mild, deep-cleaning, and doesn’t require rinsing, but it softens your brushes’ bristles and protects them so your brushes will hold together and last you longer. This spray is effective on both natural and synthetic makeup brushes. It cleans and dries in just a few minutes, so you can clean your brushes and use them again in the same day instead of waiting a full day for them to dry. The pump is designed to let you spray and go without making a mess, and the formula is safe and harmless for your brushes and skin. All you have to do is spray it on a brush’s bristles, or soak them in the cleaner for an even deeper rinse, then gently wipe the brush on a towel, paper towel, or napkin until it’s completely clean.

Best Shampoo: Ecotools Makeup Brush Cleansing Shampoo

This weekly makeup brush cleaning shampoo is safe, vegan, cruelty-free, and environmentally friendly all in one. The shampoo formula is hypoallergenic, water-based, and made with plant-based ingredients. It doesn’t contain parabens, perfumes, petroleum, and other harmful substances, so it’ll be gentle on your skin and makeup brush bristles alike. It cleans away all makeup debris, oil, and other impurities to leave your brushes fresh and more effective at makeup application. This dermatologist-tested formula also leaves the bristles softer. It’s easy to use, and you receive two bottles with your purchase, so the shampoo will last longer without needing to be replaced. It’s effective on makeup sponges as well as makeup brushes.

Best Shampoo
Meghan Herlihy Meghan Herlihy
Meghan Herlihy is a full-time writer for LifeSavvy and has written across a wide variety of topics, genres, and formats, including radio talk shows, local sports journalism, and creative original fiction. She received her bachelor's degree in communications from Ithaca College and a master's in writing from Johns Hopkins University. When she's not writing, you're most likely to find her reading a book, petting every dog within eyesight, and indulging in her love of travel. Read Full Bio »
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