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How to Clean your Makeup and Brushes

Updated: May 4, 2023

Occasionally I work with talent that brings their own makeup. Sometimes they bring their own out of fear that an artist will not be available or out of personal preference for their specific brand. Often, their bags look very dingy and in need of some major tender loving care. This article is dedicated on how to clean your makeup and brushes.

Image showing makeup brush cleansers by Cinema secrets, mac cosmetics, and masters brush cleanser
Shown here: Cinema Secrets, MAC, Masters

I got to thinking about how we treat our pretty makeup packages after we glowingly come home with them and ceremoniously place them in our train case or bag. It doesn't take long before we toss them around, drop shadows on the floor, keep products we don't use, and apply them with dirty brushes! I myself have a bag covered in a film of broken powders and eye pencil remains and I am guilty, guilty, guilty of hoarding makeup I don't like! I am also given quite a bit of makeup for free from companies that I have worked with. I can't possibly use all of this stuff before it expires. I know you're thinking, HEY! GIVE YOUR EXTRAS TO ME! Visit me at home and I have a tone of goodies to give away. Just ask! Moving on...

How do we keep our makeup supplies neat and tidy? Here are a few steps you can take to live a happy and sanitary makeup life:

  1. THROW AWAY makeup you have not used within the last 6 months. That "tinker bell" glitter you have been holding onto since grade school has probably had its day in the sun and shouldn't be renting space in your makeup bag.

  2. REPAIR broken packaging. Tape, pin, rubber band, or MacGyver your way through those broken pieces of plastic.

  3. DE-POT your makeup. If you want to take it a step further, de-pot your makeup into a Z-Palette. The Z-Palette (or any pro-palette with magnetic bottoms) saves space and makes it easier to see what colors you own in a pretty display. To de-pot, use a knife to pop out the plastic reservoir that the tin is glued to. Do not stab the tin directly! You will crumble your makeup. Put plastic reservoir onto a flat iron that has been protected by wax paper. Wait a few minutes for the plastic to soften. Once soft, use your knife to pluck out the tin. It should separate easily because the glue has been softened.

  4. PRESS broken powders into the tin. To do this, press the powder with a few drops of 99% alcohol or Beauty So Clean. Use wax paper and a (cleaned and sanitized) quarter or nickel to flatten everything nicely. I don't personally like this method because it messes the integrity of the oils in the makeup.

  5. PLACE broken powders into a new container. You can find containers for powders with adjustable sifters at the Container Store. This is my preferred method for fixing broken highlighters and blush.

  6. WASH all surfaces with a moist baby wipe, paper towel, or cloth with alcohol.

  7. CLEAN YOUR BRUSHES!!! I cannot stress how important it is to clean your brushes. It is unsanitary to reuse a brush as well as ineffective in applying makeup. It is unsanitary because once you touch your brush to an area where there is inflammation or lesion on the skin (such as a pimple or acne), you risk transferring the same bacteria to your makeup supply. A dirty brush is also ineffective in applying makeup because it muddies the true color of the product. You cannot use a brush dipped in black and brown and then try to swipe a cream or light pink over the lid with the same brush! You will be disappointed with the results! For the average consumer, I recommend cleaning your brushes with a decent hair shampoo at least once a week. Make sure to set the brushes out flat to air dry so that the glue inside the handles do not dissolve. If you want to splurge, purchase Cinema Secrets Brush Cleanser (it dries instantly - but is rough on the bristles), MAC Cosmetics brush cleaner, Clean Brush Shampoo in Lavendar, or Masters Brush Cleaner. I personally use Masters. If I don't have time to clean and air dry, Cinema Secrets.


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