Great for makeup brushes or sponges, this cleaner efficiently removes excess makeup from applicators. Fragrance-free making it great for those with skin sensitivities or who prefer an odorless brush. Won’t leave behind scents or oily residues.
Some found this to work better for brushes than sponges.
Brush cleaner is not tested on animals making this a humane choice and formula has a slightly sweet smell so brushes won’t smell like chemicals after cleaning. Easy to use spray bottle makes this great for beginners or those looking for a fast way to clean brushes.
Some found the scent to be too sweet for their liking.
Formula easily removes dirt, oil, and makeup from brushes and sponges while conditioning bristles and sponges for a soft, smooth feel next time you apply your makeup. Cruelty-free and vegan, this is an ethical choice and is free of parabens and other harsh ingredients.
May need to wash brushes and sponges multiple times to remove thick foundation.
Safe for skin and brushes, this cleaner effectively removes dirt and makeup from bristles while conditioning brushes for their next application. Made with hydrolyzed collagen, vitamin A, C, and E, and more, this is great for sensitive skin.
Spray bottle design may allow too much product to escape, making this run out quickly.
Great for brushes used for dark eyeshadow or bronzers, this cleaner works well to remove color from brushes. Removes foundation and cream products well from brush bristles and brushes dry quickly. Removes makeup easily without damaging brushes.
Cleaner has a vanilla smell to it which not everyone likes.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Your makeup is only as flawless as your application, which is why a quality set of makeup brushes is so important. But if you want to keep your makeup brushes in good condition – and prevent your skin from breaking out – washing them regularly is key. A good makeup brush cleaner will remove all the makeup, dirt, oil, and bacteria that your brushes pick up.
Makeup brush cleaners are specially formulated soaps or shampoos designed to clean the bristles on makeup brushes. They can remove residue from powder, cream, and liquid makeup as well as oils from the skin, dust, and acne-causing bacteria. You can find makeup brush cleaners specifically for natural hair brushes, which tend to soak up more product than synthetic brushes. Other cleaners are meant mainly for synthetic brushes, while plenty of formulas work for all bristles.
But with so many makeup brush cleaners to choose from, finding the right option for your vanity can be overwhelming. Our buying guide outlines everything you need to know. For entirely headache-free shopping, see the matrix above for our recommendations for the five best makeup brush cleaners.
Daily makeup brush cleaners typically come in a spray bottle. Daily cleaners do not require any water or rinsing. Instead, you simply spray the bristles and then wipe the brush on a clean cloth or paper towel to remove the makeup, dirt, and oil on the bristles. Because the cleaner comes out in a fine mist, it dries very quickly, and you’re able to use your brushes again within minutes.
Daily makeup brush cleaners won’t necessarily remove all of the makeup, oil, and dirt from your brushes, however. These cleaners are ideal for cleaning your brushes when you want to switch between colors or products in the middle of your makeup routine. With a daily cleaner, you can also quickly clean your brushes after you finish putting on your makeup to keep them clean and bacteria-free between deep cleanings.
Deep-cleaning makeup brush cleaners are used for washing your brushes with water. These cleaners form noticeable suds that get deep into the bristles and remove all of the makeup, dirt, oil, and bacteria trapped in the brush. After rinsing out the deep cleaner, you will then need to let your makeup brushes air dry overnight.
It’s a good idea to deep clean your makeup brushes every one to two weeks. A deep-cleaning makeup brush cleaner is typically more effective for preventing breakouts and other skin irritations than a daily cleaner because it does a more thorough job of cleaning the brushes.
Liquid makeup brush cleaners are the most common. They’re similar to liquid soaps or shampoos. You wet the brush before applying a squirt of the cleaner on the bristles and then work the cleaner into a lather. After rinsing, you let the makeup brushes air dry. Liquid makeup brush cleaners are ideal for deep cleaning.
Solid makeup brush cleaners are similar to bars of soap. You dampen the makeup brush, run the bristles over the solid cleaner to work up a lather, and then rinse thoroughly. Like liquid brush cleaners, solid cleaners are meant for deep cleaning, but they’re much more travel-friendly.
Spray makeup brush cleaners are almost always daily brush cleaners. Sprays don’t require any water or rinsing and dry extremely quickly.
Makeup brush cleaner wipes are another option for daily makeup brush cleaning. They’re similar to facial cleansing wipes. They don’t require any water or rinsing. You simply wipe your brushes clean. Wipes are also very travel-friendly.
If you keep your makeup brushes in your bathroom, they’re particularly vulnerable to developing bacteria due to the humidity. Bacteria can not only cause acne but eye infections and skin irritations, too. Opt for an antibacterial makeup brush cleaner for the deepest clean. Some formulas can kill up to 99.9% of the germs and bacteria commonly found on makeup brushes, keeping your skin clear and healthy.
If you want to be able to use your makeup brushes as soon as possible after cleaning them, choose a makeup brush cleaner that’s quick-drying. Formulas meant for daily cleaning all dry quickly, with most drying completely within five minutes.
Makeup brush cleaners meant for deep cleaning must be rinsed off, so it can take about 12 to 24 hours for your makeup brushes to dry completely. Always wait until your brushes are completely dry before storing or using them again.
Many makeup brush cleaners are scented, so your brushes smell fresh and clean after you wash them. You can find formulas with lavender, vanilla, rose, and other scents. If you’re sensitive to fragrances, though, stick to a fragrance-free makeup brush cleaner.
Makeup brush cleaning mats: Sigma Beauty Spa Express Brush Cleaning Mat
You’ll have an easier time working your makeup brush cleaner into the bristles of your brushes with a handy brush cleaning mat. We love this silicone mat from Sigma Beauty because it features seven different textures for washing eye and face brushes and has suction cups on the back to keep it in place in your sink.
Makeup brush cleaners vary in price based on the type, formula, ingredients, and quantity. Most cleaners cost between $5 and $50.
Inexpensive: The most affordable makeup brush cleaners are usually smaller liquid, spray, or wipe cleaners that contain average-quality ingredients. They typically range from $5 to $15.
Mid-rage: Mid-range makeup brush cleaners are usually liquid, spray, solid, or wipe cleaners that contain good-quality ingredients. They generally cost between $15 and $30.
Expensive: The most expensive makeup brush cleaners are usually liquid, spray, or solid cleaners with the highest-quality antibacterial ingredients. They typically cost between $30 and $50.
Q. Why is it so important to clean makeup brushes?
A. If you don’t clean your makeup brushes, you can spread bacteria from your brushes to your skin. This can cause acne and clogged pores, and it may even lead to infections and skin irritations. You also risk contaminating your makeup products with bacteria. Dirty makeup brushes won’t apply your makeup as smoothly and evenly as clean brushes either.
Q. How often should I clean my makeup brushes?
A. You should deep clean your makeup brushes at least once a month. Brushes used for liquid and cream products, like foundation and concealer, should be washed more often, so aim for once a week. It’s best to wash brushes used only for powder products like eyeshadow at least every other week. If you have a bad breakout, be sure to wash your makeup brushes right away to avoid spreading the bacteria.
Q. Can’t I just use dish soap or shampoo to clean my makeup brushes?A. You can technically wash your makeup brushes with liquid dish soap or baby shampoo, but some formulas can actually dry out the bristles. That’s why it’s best to stick to cleaners designed specifically for makeup brushes if you want your brushes to last as long as possible.