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This Is How To Give Your Brushes A Deep, Pro-Level Clean

Plus! Why it's so important...

If your brushes are currently caked in makeup and you can no longer see the original colour of the bristles anymore...the time has come to face up to the fact that they need a good clean. Luckily, we've teamed up with Beaut Essential to not only give you a well-needed lesson in how to clean your brushes properly but to also give one lucky Irish Tatler reader the chance to win a €100 worth of fresh makeup brushes to care for. 

Makeup brushes are the backbone of our beauty kit. We use them daily; dipping them into different creams and powders, buffing products into our skin, and carting them around in various handbags – but we can't always say the same thing about how frequently we're cleaning said brushes. 

We get, it’s about as exciting as doing the dishes or filing your taxes. It’s easy to go weeks/months/even years without washing them because, honestly, who has the time or patience? But here’s the thing: Not only can unwashed brushes harbour bacteria (leading to breakouts, congestion and irritation) but the constant buildup can also wear on the bristles and ruin them over time. 

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Cleaning your makeup brushes should be weekly a chore to breakdown the build-up of dirt, oil, and makeup, and to prevent harmful bacteria growing and causing you all kinds of skin nightmares. Not only will regular cleaning help to prolong the life of your brushes and make your products easier to apply, but there's also something strangely satisfying about watching all that blush and bronzer go down the drain.

So, how does one actually go about washing a makeup brush? That's the question we posed to professional makeup artist and Beaut Essential founder, Jennifer Cullen to find out all the best tips and tricks for removing residual makeup, dirt and oils from your precious tools.

However, before we can get to the 'how-to', we've first got to understand why it is we need to wash our brushes. "Right now, all we hear about is the importance of hygiene and cleanliness - and the same rules apply for your makeup brushes," says Cullen. "Studies have shown there might be more bacteria on one single makeup brush than there is on your toilet seat. The only way to properly remove this bacteria is by washing your brushes regularly and thoroughly."  

Q: First things first, do you really need to be washing your brushes *that*  frequently?

You should be washing your makeup brushes after every use. That said, Cullen says how frequently you need to give your brush bristles a good scrub-down can depend on how often you use your brushes and what you use them for; "Your foundation, concealer and/or contour brush should be thoroughly cleaned once a week - minimum. However, you can be little more lenient with eye brushes providing you're spot cleaning them between colour changes - twice a month is enough for these."

Q: What happens when you don't wash our makeup brushes?

If you are one of those people that does all the right things and yet can’t understand why you have rashes and spots, take a look at the tools you use to apply your products with. "When your brushes are dirty, they are a breeding ground for bacteria as they will have accumulated oil, dust and grime," informs Cullen. "So, every time you use a dirty brush, you’re spreading that build-up of dirt straight across your skin and it’s clogging your pores with all that nasty bacteria causing breakouts, premature ageing and blemishes."

Q: What should you use to clean your makeup brushes?

There are dozens of cleansers, gadgets and mats made specifically for cleaning brushes, but Cullen believes all you need is some warm water and soap. "The best, easiest and most thorough way to clean your brushes is by using warm water and gentle soap. You can buy brush cleansing pads and all sorts of devices but I think easiest is best."

Q: What's the right way to clean makeup brushes?

Clean, good-as-new makeup brushes and sponges are just seven steps away:

  1. Wet the bristles with lukewarm water.
  2. Place a drop of your cleanser of choice into the palm of your clean hand.
  3. Gently massage the tips of the bristles in your palm.
  4. Rinse the bristles thoroughly.
  5. Squeeze out the excess moisture with a clean towel.
  6. Re-form the brush head back into its original shape.
  7. Leave the brush to dry.

To speed up the process, however, Cullen suggests squirting some liquid soap onto a facecloth and then take a couple of brushes at a time and swirling them together around the cloth before rinsing individually in water. "This helps to release any product or particles from the brushes and cleans deep into the hair."

Q: What is the right way to dry makeup brushes? 

Similar to how there's a whole host of products out there to help you clean your brushes, there's drying mats, towers and even electronic dryers to help speed up the drying process. But according to Cullen, all you need is a towel and a little patience. "Air drying your brushes is always best. Place your brushes down flat, in a line on a towel. Keep it away from direct heat as this can damage the bristles." If after washing your brush, it has lost it's shape - don't panic, there is a fix. "You can simply reshape the bristles on your brush using your hand when the brush is wet. Do this before leaving to dry," says Cullen.  

Q: When is it time to throw away a makeup brush?

Although frequent cleaning can help extend the life of your brushes, there are signs you shouldn't ignore when it comes to determining that they're no longer capable of doing the best job possible. "Makeup Brushes do get a lot of wear and tear and if your trusty set of a few years begins to lose clumps of hair it’s time for a new set," says Cullen. "Any number of things cause premature shedding, you should never submerge your brushes fully in water as this will damage the glue that holds the bristles in place," warns Cullen. "Be gentle when cleaning your brushes and only use brush cleansers, mild soap or baby shampoo to clean your bristles as harsh detergents or oils will damage the glue. Keep your brushes away from heat sources and direct sunlight. Good quality brushes which are carefully maintained are an investment and should last you years."


If your brushes have started to fray, shed, or lose their shape, it's time for a new set. And, as luck would have it, we have one up for grabs. We've teamed up with Beaut Essential to give one lucky Irish Tatler reader the chance to win a €100 worth of makeup brushes. 

To be in the chance of winning a €100 worth of makeup brushes from Beaut Essential, simply answer the question below:

Create your own user feedback survey

This competition is open to the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland residents aged 18 or over unless any other age restriction is specified or implied. T&Cs apply. Closing date 25/11/2020.

Main image by @irishtatlerbeauty on Instagram

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