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Expert Shopper Beauty & Personal Care

What is the best makeup brush cleaner?

Which makeup brush cleaners are best?

If you’ve spent big bucks on makeup brushes, you want them to last as long as possible. One way to extend their life is by purchasing a makeup brush cleaner.

Regular soap or shampoo can damage bristles, but specially formulated brush cleaners are designed to remove trace particles gently and effectively. They’re adept at pulling away deep-set oils, liquids, and powders, which could harbor bacteria and result in breakouts or skin infections. If you’re concerned about finding the right cleanser for your bristle type — real hair or synthetic — rest assured, there are unique formulas for each one.

Give our buying guide a read to learn more about makeup brush cleaners. We’re sharing our top picks, including our favorite, Cinema Secrets Makeup Brush Cleaner. This capable, professional-grade formula cleans, conditions, and deodorizes both natural and synthetic bristles.

What to know before you buy a makeup brush cleaner

Daily brush vs. deep-cleaning cleaners

Daily brush cleaners keep daily makeup accumulation to a minimum. They’re usually available as liquid or aerosol spray formulas and require wiping on a cloth or tissue. These cleaners are also quick to dry, so they’re ideal if you intend to use the same brush during application and need to transition between colors.

Deep-cleaning brush cleaners require water, either for activation or rinsing. They suds or foam up, helping to release oil, dirt, and bacteria that can be trapped between bristles. While they’re the best option to keep bacteria-related breakouts at bay, you need to set aside time to allow the brushes to dry fully after cleaning.


Liquid formulas of deep-cleaning brush cleaners remain the most popular, so they’re available in nearly every price range. Spray cleaners (both liquid and aerosol) offer quick, superficial cleaning between applications and deep cleanings. Travel-friendly wipe cleaners don’t require water or rinsing.

What to look for in a quality makeup brush cleaner


Antibacterial formulas can kill up to 99.9% of bacteria on your brush, making them your best option for deep cleaning. They’re most effective at keeping acne-causing germs and bacteria at bay, plus they can be used to disinfect the brush handles.

All-natural formulas

Not all makeup brush cleaners rely on heavy chemical formulas. There are a wide variety of cleaners free of parabens, phthalates, sulfates, dyes, and animal byproducts. These formulas often use plant-derived ingredients, such as soy or cucumber extracts, to keep them as pure as possible.

Drying time

Spray cleaners are well-liked for their quick drying time — a mere five minutes or less. There’s a bit more of a process when it comes to liquid makeup brush cleaners. Some require prolonged soaking, while others require scrubbing action. Liquid cleaners always require thorough rinsing. Air drying is also necessary, which can take 12 to 24 hours, depending on your brushes.


It’s common for makeup brush cleaners to have a light, pleasant aroma. Lavender, cucumber, green tea, and rose are popular scents. There are also many fragrance-free cleaners, which are often preferred by those with sensitive or acne-prone skin.

How much you can expect to spend on makeup brush cleaner

Drugstore makeup brush cleaners cost between $5-$15 and contain decent ingredients at best. For better-quality ingredients available in multiple formulas, you can spend $15-$30. Premium cleaners are close to $50 and are formulated with top-quality antibacterial ingredients.

Makeup brush cleaner FAQ

What are solid makeup brush cleaners?

A. Solid makeup brush cleaners are similar to bars of soap. Simply swipe and scrub a dampened brush across its surface for cleaning, then rinse your brush to remove residue. Given their convenient design, solid cleaners are often preferred for travel.

Do I need a daily brush cleaner if I already have a deep cleaning one?

A. Yes, especially since it’s unlikely that you’ll deep clean your brushes on a daily basis. Daily brush cleaners are essential if you use a single brush to apply several different colors and want to prevent cross-product transfer between compacts.

What's the best makeup brush cleaner to buy?

Top makeup brush cleaner

Cinema Secrets’ Makeup Brush Cleaner

Our take: Professional-grade cleanser that preserves bristles to keep them looking new.

What we like: Antimicrobial formula with a light, pleasant aroma. Dries quickly and won’t leave residue.

What we dislike: Might leave a mild blue tint on bristles.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top makeup brush cleaner for the money

BeautyBlender’s Liquid BlenderCleanser

Our take: Eco-friendly formula from a leading name in the cosmetics industry.

What we like: Protects against 99.7% germs. Low-suds, soy-based formula with a light lavender scent.

What we dislike: More product required to clean heavily-soiled brushes.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth Checking Out

Ecotools Makeup Cleaner

Our take: Easy to use, efficient and gentle on brushes.

What we like: Hypoallergenic shampoo is dermatologist tested and made with plant-based ingredients. Cruelty-free brand. Far more affordable than others options.

What we dislike: Recommended for eyeshadow brushes as opposed to larger, face brushes.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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