Cleaning Makeup Brushes


I essentially re-wrote this post about being a good wife yesterday, subbing carrot soup for tabbouleh and The Vampire Diaries for South Park. [Yes, I have sucked Collin in to my appreciation of the WB-throwback, although outing him in this regard may be proof positive that I am a Very Bad Wife].  This goes to show that marriage is not a very interesting subject for a blog.  Good blogs are either from the perspective of experts or strangers in a strange land (like Robin in Wedding Planning, or Robin in Cape Town, so stay subscribed!).  I’m far from an expert at married life, but unlike wedding planning, it’s pretty easy to adjust to, especially because we’ve been living in sin for over two years now.

So what’s a blogger to do?  Expand one sentence from the good wifery rehash into it’s own post, obvs.  I’ll be donning my expert cap here, despite dubious credentials.  Hold on to your butts.


There is one thing, and one thing only, that I love cleaning, and that is my makeup brushes.

Part of it is because I love makeup, which includes loving my makeup brushes.  A good makeup brush gets a really special place in my heart, because I use it all the time, for a long time, and get great results with it.  Plus they are soft and pleasing to the touch.  When you think about it, makeup brushes are just like husbands [YES! ON THEME!]

I clean my makeup brushes once a week.  I love putting a brush-cleaning session in between more tedious cleaning chores like laundry and dishes, because it keeps the undirtying mojo flowing but lets me enjoy myself for a spell.  Cleaning makeup brushes regularly helps them last longer and work better (it really sucks when yesterday’s smoky gray eyeshadow creeps into today’s bright pink eyeshadow).

Here’s how I do it:

  1.  Wet the brush.  Just like with a paint brush, avoid holding it brush-up, because that can get water into the handle which can cause all sorts of problems, especially if your handles are wooden.
  2. Put a pea-sized drop of baby shampoo [You can also use spray-on brush cleaner, which works much faster, so it is nice to have around for when you just need to clean the one eyeshadow brush or what have you, but it's expensive and I think the baby shampoo leaves the brushes softer] on your fingertips, and gently rub into the brush.  Seriously, be gentle.  You know how annoying it is when brush hairs get bent out of shape?  Think about that when you smoosh the soap in, because that will keep your touch appropriately light.
  3. Gawk at how much makeup is coming out of the brush hairs, even after just one week of use.
  4. Rinse (with the brush head pointing down) until the water runs clear.
  5. Any brush that goes in anything liquid or creamy (foundation brushes, eyeliner brushes) will usually need a second wash.
  6. Squeegee as much water as possible out of the brush head with your fingers, running from ferrule (that’s the name of the metal band between the handle and the brush, or really any metal used to join two objects. It’s one of those great words like “aglet” that describes something you see all the time but never know what to call) to the bristle tips.
  7. Reshape the brush a bit and rest it on a towel.  I use my old super-absorbent hair towel because a) it’s super absorbent! b) it’s white, so it’s a good test of if I really cleaned the brush enough.
  8. After a couple hours, fluff the brushes by running them gently along your towel (use no more pressure than you would using them on your face) and let them rest again with the opposite side facing up.  I always lay my brushes brand-label side up first, and then switch them to brand-label side down after a few hours of drying.  This not only helps you do this step, but increases the OCD-tickling satisfaction of this entire exercise.
  9. I will continue to periodically fluff the brushes by running them along the towel, I find this gives them the best shape when they are dry.  If you leave them to dry on the bathroom counter you can fluff them every time you pee without even having to go out of your way!
  10. It takes about 12 hours for brushes to completely dry, and some thicker brushes take longer.  So schedule your brush cleaning appropriately, and consider having a beta set of brushes for the essentials (I have an extra fluffy brush for blush/powder/bronzer and an extra eyeshadow/liner brush).





  1. OK, really glad I’m not the only one who is slightly OCD about cleaning my make-up brushes. Also, ecotools are the best!

  2. Damn it Cuun!

    Before every episode I MAKE FUN of it so I have that defense if you ever bring up that I watch it! But that defense doesn’t work if it’s on the internet! Ugh… why is that show so good!

    That Elena is giving Ellen Degeneres, Tina Fey and (the greatest lady to ever do ANYTHING EVER) Kathy Bates a run for their money! I mean she’s so bad ass! Ugh… You did this to me! Jerk CUUN!

    Outed by my WIFE on the WEB! Terrible! Terrible! Terrible!

    You’re still super Soup.

  3. This post plays to so many of my OCD tendencies. I love it.
    I’m always so disgusted by the amount of make-up that comes out of brushes. Like EW! what else is in there??

  4. I consider myself pretty decent at both girlstuff and grownup stuff. But never am I proven more wrong than when it comes to make-up.

    It is conceivable that I own some make-up brushes, but if I do, they are tucked into my caboodle (!) in the back of a closet, and I can promise you I have never shampooed them.

    This is why I feel like a poseur in Sephora.

    • I find this thoroughly insane. Like… I am trying to figure out how it can possibly be true. I know you use compact foundation so you use the sponge in there… and your eyes make eyeshadow pointless so you wouldn’t need an eyeshadow brush… but how do you put on blush? How do you smudge eyeliner? This is crazytown, Labacz!

      • 1) Foundation – I use my finger (my ring finger!) I use liquid foundation. I don’t use foundation a lot, though.
        2) Blush – it comes with a brush. That I use, then throw out when the blush is gone.
        3) Smudge eyeliner – what?

    • I logged on to write this exact same response. Like, exactly. Down to the caboodle.

  5. This just makes me jealous of everyone who actually knows how to use makeup and can find stuff that doesn’t make you break out like a teenager. Sigh.

  6. Can I just take a moment to say how happy it makes me that you wrote “Hold on to your butts”? Very happy.

    Then again, I recently carried Sammy J’s arm around all night as part of my Halloween costume, so perhaps I’m biased.

    (I really hope that reference makes sense to you, or I sound like a total wacko.)

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