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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

58 Models Considered
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645 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best makeup brush cleaners

Last Updated July 2020

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.

The more often you clean your makeup brushes, the better. Brushes used for liquid or cream products need to be cleaned more frequently than those used for powder products.

Key considerations

Daily 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

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.

Formula

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.

EXPERT TIP

Makeup brush cleaners aren’t just for cleaning makeup brushes. You can also use them to clean makeup sponges.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Antibacterial

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.

Drying time

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.

Scent

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.

EXPERT TIP

Don’t leave your makeup brushes to dry on a towel after you’ve cleaned them. They can grow mildew. Go with a breathable paper towel instead.


Staff  | BestReviews

Accessories

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 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 cleaner prices

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.

EXPERT TIP

Many liquid makeup brush cleaners are available in travel-size bottles, but solid or wipe formulas are usually the easiest to travel with.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • If you’re using a liquid makeup brush cleaner, apply a drop to your palm. Work the dampened makeup brush into your hand, taking time to really push the cleaner into the bristles. Rinse the brush until the water becomes clear.
  • Be sure to squeeze out the excess moisture from the bristles with a clean towel to help the makeup brushes dry more quickly.
  • Lay your brushes flat to dry on a paper towel. If you can, balance the brushes so the bristles are hanging over the edge of a counter or table. That will allow air to circulate around the bristles for faster drying.
  • Never place your wet brushes upright in a cup or other container to dry. Water can drip down into the bristles and loosen the glue that holds the brush together.

Other products we considered

There are so many makeup brush cleaners on the market that we just couldn’t include every cleaner worth checking out on our shortlist. The Sephora Collection Detox: Deep-Cleaning Brush Shampoo is an affordable option for deep cleaning your brushes. It works for all types of makeup brushes and doesn’t contain any parabens, sulfates, or phthalates.

We also like the Make Up For Ever Instant Brush Cleaner if you prefer a daily formula. It doesn’t contain any alcohol but still dries quickly.

The EcoTools Makeup Brush Cleansing Shampoo is another excellent deep-cleaning formula that comes at a very affordable price. It doesn’t leave an oily residue behind either. Instead, you’re left with super-clean, soft brushes.

Use lukewarm water to wash your makeup brushes. Hot water can loosen the glue that holds the bristles in place.

FAQ

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.

Other Products We Considered
The BestReviews editorial team researches hundreds of products based on consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. We then choose a shorter list for in-depth research and testing before finalizing our top picks. These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5.
The team that worked on this review
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Katherine
    Katherine
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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