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Mecca Franchise Logo The Mecca Guide

How to clean your makeup brushes and tools (and why you’ll want to)

January 1 | 4 minute read

How To Clean Makeup Brushes Hero 16x9

Words by Sherine Youssef

Originally published on | March 1

Cleaning your makeup brushes is a key step in any beauty routine.

Let's start with your makeup application: product build-up on your go-to tools can tamper with the colour of your products and even stop makeup from blending properly which will only compromise the finish of your makeup. But more importantly, germs and bacteria can build up in the product residue left behind on your makeup brushes and tools, which can then be transmitted onto your skin and eyes, leading to irritation, breakouts and (in some cases) infections. Just think about the number of times you've double-dipped a concealer brush day-after-day. Thank you, but no.

How often should you be cleaning your makeup brushes?

There is no magic number for how often you should be cleaning your makeup brushes, but the consensus is clear: “regularly" is the general rule here. In an ideal world, you would spot clean every brush and sponge after every use to keep product buildup and bacteria at bay. But, if we’re being realistic, every one to two weeks is also fine. If you're doing this weekly or biweekly (well done!), then a deeper clean can happen once a month (more on how often you should spot clean versus deep clean below).

What should you use to clean your makeup brushes?

If you're spot cleaning, a brush cleaning spray is a good option. An alcohol-based solution will dissolve any makeup residue left in your brush hairs and dry within minutes, so you can get on with your makeup look. You can also opt for a spray that has antibacterial properties to instantly eliminate bad bacteria. For a deep clean, you'll want water and either a dedicated brush cleanser or a cleanser you already have lying around, like your face cleanser, shampoo or even dishwashing soap (as long as they're gentle and moisturising), otherwise there's a risk that you’ll dry out the bristles on your brush, particularly if they're natural hair bristles.

The MECCA step-by-step guide on how to clean your makeup brushes:

Here’s the best way to clean makeup brushes, whether it’s a fast (but effective) spot clean, or a more intense deep clean.

Spot cleaning to keep brushes fresh between washes

1. Spray the brush cleaning mist onto a folded paper towel until it is damp but not soaked (tip: look for a lint-free paper towel, as the last thing you want is those tiny white flecks on your just-cleaned brushes!).

We love: MEECCA COSMETICA Brush With Success is formulated with silk protein and vitamin B5 to condition and soften bristles without drying them out, while the MECCA MAX Brush Refresh Mist has a quick drying and rinse-free formula.

2. Swirl your brush onto the damp area using the same motion you would to apply makeup to your face.

3. Leave the brush to dry for just a moment, and then you're good to go.


Deep cleaning to keep brushes (and your skin) clear and happy

1. Dispense some cleanser into a small glass.

We love: MECCA MAX Sponge and Brush Shampoo breaks down makeup residue and disinfects (thanks, tea tree oil).

2. Wet your makeup brush with warm water, making sure to keep the brush angled down to avoid water getting into the ferrule (this is the metal part of the brush). If you get water in there, it weakens the glue and makes bristles fall out).

3. Dip the wet brush into the brush cleanser and then swirl it in the palm of your hand.

We love: The specialised grooves in the MECCA MAX Brush Cleansing Pad are great at catching every last remnant of product.

4. Rinse the soap out with more warm water, angling the brush head down, and repeat until the water runs clear. Once the brush is fully clean, squeeze out any excess water and mould the bristles back into their original shape. The easiest way to do this is laying the brush in your palm, gently closing your fingers around it and pulling the bristles through backwards.

5. Place the brush on a bench, with the head of the brush over the edge, and let it dry overnight.

How do I know when it’s time to replace my makeup brushes?

Some high quality brushes are designed to last (nearly) a lifetime, while others, no matter how well you’ve treated them, will need to be tossed after a few years. Signs to look out for include fraying or shedding bristles, or when they start to lose their shape and look like they’re pinching or shrinking. Also, if and when they start to smell or become distinctly discoloured may mean it’s time to buy a new brush.

How to wash makeup sponges

Because they're typically used with a wet product, foundation sponges are a bacteria’s literal dream home. This means that your makeup sponges need a thorough and soapy clean every single week.

1. Run your makeup sponge under warm water until it’s completely soaked. Squeeze the water out and repeat this process a few times to really saturate!

2. Use your hands to gently massage a coin-sized amount of cleanser into it. If you prefer a solid soap, lightly rub the sponge back and forth on the bar until it lathers up, making sure to get every side before massaging the soap in.

3. Rinse the sponge under water and squeeze it repeatedly, until the water runs clear. Leave it on a paper towel to dry overnight.

How often do you need to replace makeup sponges?

You’ll want to replace your makeup sponges every three to four months (remember: bacteria dream home). Sponges might also start to show signs of wear and tear before then. If little tears and nicks start showing up across the surface of your sponge, it’s time to switch to a new one.

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