The Weekend Post #83: Makeup Brush Maintenance

Brushes are something that are oft neglected in my extensive beauty routine. Face masks are dutifully applied on a weekly basis, the whole ‘I’ve lost count of how many steps it includes’ skincare routine is carried out twice daily, but brushes? Well let’s not discuss when they last had a good ol’ clean. So today I thought I’d ramble about makeup brush maintenance, mostly so I can take the chance to practice what I preach. For me, tending to them on a weekday just feels wrong, it’s definitely a Sunday thing. Gather up those brushes and have a read…

Make the edit. I’m not too much of a hoarder when it comes to brushes. Probably due to the fact that I’m very limited in homes for them. An Urban Outfitter candle holder houses my daily go-tos and an old Starbucks mug contains the leftovers. But if you’re up for a streamline here’s a rundown of what brushes you need: a base buffing brush (the Real Techniques Buffing Brush is the obvious choice here), a small powder brush (for blush and highlight), a larger powder brush (for bronzer and setting powder), a contour brush (with a tapered end for precise sculpting), a spoolie (for brow taming), a slanted brow brush, a small eyeshadow blending brush (MAC’s 217 rocks at this), and a larger one (for blending). Eight brushes, that’s all, will have your back. And remember the less brushes you use, the less you have to wash – groan – which brings us to…

Get cleaning. Now you’ve got two options here. How long have you got on the clock? In a rush then indulge in a quick spot clean sans water, but if you’re chilling then get out the liquid soap and give them a deep clean. My favourite spot cleaner is The Pro Makeup Shop Hygiene Collection Makeup Brush Cleanser, it’s got the perfect spritzer on top so coats the brush (one spray for a little brush, two or three for bigger powder ones) and then you just swirl the hairs onto an old flannel or piece of kitchen roll and ta-dah – two minutes later and your brushes are dry and ready for action. For a wash under the tap, I use Dr Bronners 8-in-1 Magic Soap. A 5p size into the palm of your hand massaged into the ends of a wet brush and rinsed out – you’ll be amazed horrified at the colour of the water that appears. Dry off and place balanced over the edge of a table for an overnight dry-off.

Finishing touches. You could leave it at that, but a true sesh of makeup brush maintenance ends with some final tweaks. Reshaping the bristles of your brush with a bit of gentle coaxing whilst it’s still damp is a good way of moulding it back into the brush you first purchased. Or if your ferrules have become a little loose it’s time to reach for the superglue. And those with a MAC heavy collection may want to reach for the clear nail polish and paint over those numbers so they don’t rub off – I’ve learnt that one the hard way. But if you want your brush stash to look trés profesh dab a spot of nail colour on the top of each handle Charlotte Tilbury stylée so your brushes will never get lost in the crowd.

10 minutes cut out of your Sunday schedule and your bevy of brushes will be raring to go: edited, cleaned, fixed-up and ready for dusting come Monday morning.


  • This was ( as always) very helpful! Thanks Vivianna!

  • Anna Blush

    I also love the Dr Bronner 8-in-1 magic soap for washing brushes. You’ve inspired me, I’m off to give my brushes a wash! x

  • Amy

    I am so bad when it comes to washing my brushes! I feel so bad now haha x

    Amy |

  • caroline

    Now I feel guilty…..* goes to start washing brushes. *

  • t

    i LOOOVE the 8 in 1 soap!

    blog sale all products reduced by 50% or more including products from nars,
    MAC, armani, clinique and more. We seem to have the same taste in products so i
    hope you take a look!

  • Eloise Allan

    I’ve just had to deep clean my brushes yesterday so reading this has encouraged me to spot clean mine more regularly. As I have a-lot of brushes so deep cleaning takes awhile!

    Eloise |

  • Emma Diggins

    haha you’ve reminded me…I need to clean my brushes!!

    Emma x

  • Izzi

    Its definitely a Sunday occurrence for me too! I always keep a candle pot on my shelf to place dirty brushes into it as the week goes by, then on a Sunday I know which brushes have been used and need washing

    A beauty, fashion and lifestyle blog by Izzi

  • yourdailybreak

    love the Dr Bronners soap! Purchased it to clean my makeup brushes as per your recommendation awhile ago and absolutely love it xo

    Your Daily Break

  • Ida D

    Which brush is your favourite for powder blush?

  • Maddy Cane

    You have reminded me to clean my brushes, thanks! x

  • I use an oven glove, olive oil & baby shampoo to clean my brushes and Brush Guards to dry & reshape them. Here’s my post on it:

  • Phoebe

    I always try and deep clean at least once a week. Need to add that to today’s schedule!

  • Sometimes I find that the Dr. Bronners liquid soap leaves my brushes feeling a little coated and product-y. I prefer the Dr. Bronners almond bar soap or if I have to use the liquid, I tend to do a finishing wash with baby shampoo to leave them feeling soft, but Dr. Bronners soaps, liquids or bars, are the King of deep cleaning!

  • Alissia

    Brush cleaning is definitely a sunday chore x

  • roshni

    Really useful post, I find that I dont wear makeup often enough to wash my brushes weekly (or maybe thats my excuse) But il try out dr Bronners for the brushes next time! 🙂

  • I usually use baby shampoo but have been wanting to try out the Dr.Bronners for a while xx


  • Ila

    What a fantastic blog post! So true I do neglect my brushes way too often without keeping in mind that the “healty brushes means healty skin”.
    I will definitely try to use the Dr Bronners 8-in-1 Magic Soap.I like the idea that is a natural antiseptic and made with organic ingredients 🙂 Thanks for the tip!

    Ila x

  • Call It Vanity

    Dr.Bronners is the best for cleaning brushes, recently did a post on it myself! My sink was coated in a lovely shade of muddy brown after I did my a couple of weeks ago…so bad!

    Mayah x

  • Ellis

    Everybody loathes washing their brushes but I love it, I should start up a business haha!

    Ellis xxx

  • expatmuaddict

    I am the geeky girl who loves washing her brushes!! I use a combo of Dr Bronners and baby shampoo, sometimes the Dr Bronners leaves a sticky residue on some brushes. I am also the geeky girl who has spent waaaaaaay to much money on brushes!! In fact I have just been in Sephora (Dubai where I live) and bought 4 more from their Pro range which I HIGHLY recommend if you ever get chance!! Xxxxx

  • Emily

    Perfect timing – I was just thinking how I have to sort out my brushes asap! x

  • Ree

    I’m definitely going to try out the Dr Bronners…I have heard so many good things about it! xx

  • Louisa

    This is something I should do way more often than I actually do! But thanks for the reminder that I need to..

    Louisa’s Notebook

  • Celina

    I’m definitely going to get the Dr. Bronners soap for my brushes after I use up my massive bottle of baby shampoo.

    Celina | The Celution

  • Crazyographer

    I clean mine with a MASSIVE bottle of Amande Savon de Marseille that I picked up in TK Maxx for the ridiculous sum of £6, it’s a full litre of almonds scented pure soapy goodness! It gets my brushes spotless

  • Pippa Jones

    The clear nail polish trick is quite handy!

    Pipp xx

  • Parisian To Be

    Lovely post! You turned me in the the Dr. Bronners and I’ve never found anything so fab.
    xo Parisian To Be

  • Multitasking Damsel

    i always admire your visual design in your photos! the post itself, is great ! i personally love washing my brushes cos then after they nice and clean!! its a pain if you have to do them quite often though!

  • I’m also always amazed/horrified of the colour of the water that runs off when I’m cleaning mine! Great post 🙂

  • TheYummyChummies

    You always seem so organised! I definitely need to take inspiration from this and clean my brushes. In fact…I’m going right now to do it. Great post, my face thanks you for it!

    K x

  • Beauty in the Breakdown

    Good idea about the clear nail polish! Thanks!

  • Haha, it’s like you read my mind, I’ve been putting off washing mine for a looong time!

    Shel x

  • Amber Hunter

    Thanks for this post! I will admit, I don’t wash my brushes as often as I should but you definitely ad some helpful tips.


    Lovely Notions

  • kristina

    Random question but I was curious if this is noticed by anyone else. Every time I use the Dr. Bronners to clean my brushes I notice that all, except my eyeshadow brushes smell really strange after they dry. Almost a sour smell even though they are brand new. This doesn’t happen with any other soap and it’s especially bad with the buffing brush, I thought it could be the mixture with chemicals in the foundation but I’ve tried many different foundations and it’s always the same horrible smell. Anyone else experienced this?

  • Ani Los

    thank you for an amazing post… I am currently in love with my shoushoulang brushes. They are so so soft and really best of best.

  • LDNgirl788

    As sad as this sounds, I actually like cleaning my brushes. That feeling you get when you have a brand new set of clean brushes ready for the week ahead is just – ahhh.. bliss. I use olive oil and regular ol’ Fairy Liquid washing up liquid – swirl the two together, run it under warm water and place brush tip down in a box with a piece or two of kitchen towel at the bottom to catch all the drips and stop any excess water getting into the ferrel.