#FAB Friday How to Clean Your Makeup and Brushes

From our archives: Many people worry about cross-contamination when using beauty products

Photo: Unsplash/@laurachouette

Photo: Unsplash/@laurachouette

From our archives:

Many people worry about cross-contamination when using beauty products. Considering the amount of money we spend on our makeup collections, it’s hard to throw things out or justify splurging. To prolong the shelf-life of my collection, I keep my tools and makeup clean and sanitize on a regular basis.  

Below is a list of products along with a how-to on keeping them clean and free of germs. On a side note, if you get any kind of infection, consider tossing products you used during that period of time (and in the future remember not to use products you want to keep during an illness). Keep your work areas clean and wash your hands before and after makeup applications.


Foundation: The most effective way to keep liquid foundations germ-free is to keep them stored correctly and dispense properly. Foundations typically come stored in a jar, squeeze tube or glass bottles—here are my recommendations on handling each of these:

Squeeze tubes are very practical and easy to travel with, and the product is hard to tamper with. You can just squeeze as much product as you need onto a palette or the back of your hand before applying.  

Jars can be very messy and attract germs. I always keep a tiny spatula with me and scoop the product out of the jar. Using your fingers to get the product out can lead to contamination, especially if one isn’t diligently washing their hands before and after makeup application. Keep in mind that the foundation is exposed to toxins found in the air and your surroundings every time you open and close the product. Avoid using your fingers and opt for a clean brush or spatula.

Glass bottles, although hard to travel with, are aesthetically pleasing. I believe that all foundations that come in this form of packaging should come with a pump. The inconvenience of having to pour foundation out and estimate how much product you’re going to use is difficult.  I never seem to get it right and I always waste product when doing this. I highly recommend purchasing a pump to help keep things easy. The convenience is worth the added cost, you can buy my favorite one here. They’re reusable too!


Makeup Brushes: I get a lot of questions in regards to cleaning makeup brushes, e.g. how often and which cleanser to use. Keeping your brushes clean contributes to the health of your skin so please, clean your brushes regularly. Here are a few approaches to the cleaning of your brushes, depending on how much time you have for the task.

Deep cleaning: I deep clean my makeup brushes every week using a gentle soap so I’m not damaging the bristles (I use both synthetic and real hair fiber brushes). My go-to cleansing soap is Dr. Bronner’s Baby Unscented Soap. It’s natural, effective, and doesn’t leave a lingering smell. You can purchase brush cleansers at almost all beauty stores.

*My tip is to use a brush cleaning glove. This will save you time and money in the long run, trust me. I found that before I started using a glove, I was using a large amount of soap due to the fact that the palm of my hand wasn’t cutting it when cleaning my dense foundation brushes. Here is my cleansing glove of choice. I dampen my brushes using warm water before I begin cleaning with the glove (apply soap on cleansing glove, not directly on the brush).  I swish my brush around in circular motions and the glove takes care of the rest. Be sure to clean and dry your brushes at an angle so water doesn’t seep into the handle, loosening the hair.  

Spot Cleaning: I spot clean my brushes after every use. My favorite spot cleaner is the MAC Cosmetics Brush Cleaner. It’s a bit pricey to use for both spot and deep cleaning, so try to only use it sparingly. First take a few paper towels and spray damp. Then take my dirty brush, rub it into the paper towel, and watch the makeup melt away—quick, easy, and effective. Finally, let the brush sit for a few minutes to dry before putting it away.

Recommendation: Do not use sponge eye shadow applicators & disposable sponges after more than one use.


Antibacterial Wipes: When I’m traveling or find my makeup is getting dusty or that there’s product buildup, I clean the packaging with wipes. Whether it’s your makeup bag, pouch, eyelash curlers, makeup brush handles… Giving your products a once over is a great way to ensure you’re stopping bacteria buildup or germs from spreading.         

Pencils: Whether you have a twist up or standard pencil, the best way to keep your pencils clean is by sharpening them and then wiping the exposed area with a towel misted with alcohol. Same goes for twist-up pencils, twist-up as you need.  

Mascara: My rule of thumb is never keep a tube of mascara longer than 3 months. Once a month, I take the wand and wipe it clean with a towel misted in isopropyl alcohol. This removes all of the mascara buildup on the wand and allows for the mascara to apply clump free.  The shelf life of eye products tend to be shorter, preventative to keep the delicate eye area free of germs.

Powders: I don’t sanitize my powdered makeup often since I’m primarily the only person that uses it. When I notice my eyeshadow palettes begin to look disheveled, I scrape the top layer with a cotton bud and spritz with alcohol. This helps clean up any slippage from neighbor shadows from the palette.    

Tip: You can repair cracked or crushed powder makeup products by adding a few drops of alcohol and pressing it together. Let your product sit for a few hours to dry and enjoy.    

Lipstick:  If you often share your lip products, opt for a lip brush with each application, which you can wipe down with alcohol or a deep cleaning product between people. This will keep your lipstick bullet sanitized. Lipstick is one product I’m particular about—If I’m sharing I always use a lip brush. You can wipe the bullet clean with a towel and dip into alcohol for a thorough cleaning. Set aside and let dry.

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