The best makeup brush cleaners to help keep your tools fresh

Beauty brushes are 'a hotspot for bacterial growth,' so the best makeup brush cleaners are essential

makeup brush cleaners, best makeup brush cleaners
(Image credit: Sephora, M.A.C., bareMinerals)

You'll want to familiarize yourself with the best makeup brush cleaners if you're known for going a little Picasso on your face. 

While it's easy to get carried away with the best eye shadow palettes, smoothing foundations and shimmering blushes, the tools that help achieve your look cannot go unnoticed. 

"Many people use makeup but fail to properly clean and disinfect their makeup brushes," says Dr. Michele Green, a New York City-based cosmetic dermatologist. "This can be very problematic since makeup brushes and beauty blenders are a hotspot for bacterial growth."

Since we've already given you tips and tricks for how to clean beauty blenders properly, it's time to move on to the next accessory. If you want to bring your bristles back to life—and leave residue behind—allow Dr. Green to steer you in the proper direction. 

Learning how to clean makeup brushes properly "can ensure you are not putting additional bacteria on your skin, whereas the use of dirty makeup brushes can clog your pores, cause skin irritation and acne, and lead to poor makeup application," Dr. Green says. 

Let the cleaning commence! Who said spring cleaning was reserved for your home alone?



What to look for in the best makeup brush cleaners?

make-up brushes on pink background

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It all comes down to the ingredients used in the soaps and cleansers. While some experts have suggested trying baby shampoo or even dish soap for synthetic brushes, Dr. Green typically eagle-eyes the product's composition above all else.

"When looking for a makeup brush cleanser, make sure you avoid products that contain parabens, phthalates (DBP/DEP/DEHP), fragrance and ethanolamines (MEA/DEA/TEA)," she says. "These ingredients can cause skin irritation and may have adverse effects on your health."

Though you will want to do a thorough job when scrubbing away the dirt and bacteria, be careful not to go too overboard, as strong cleaners are able to mess with your skin—then you'll have to make a beeline to Sephora, snag new goodies and revamp your skincare product order

"If you have sensitive skin, you should be extra conscious of what ingredients are in the makeup brush cleaner since it can ultimately irritate your skin," Dr. Green adds. 

Shop these doc-approved best makeup brush cleaners:

M.A.C. Brush Cleanser ($17, £26.84)

"It cleans and conditions brush fibers and is specially designed to extend the life of high-quality brushes," Dr. Green says

Sephora, Cinema Secrets Makeup Brush Cleaner ($24

The professional-grade product and a 99.99% antimicrobial disinfectant make it a no-brainer for your makeup bag. 

bareMinerals Well-Cared For Makeup Brush Cleaner ($14

A must for sensitive skin, this cleaner helps bind moisture to the skin while softening it.

MGSkinLabs Gentle Cleanser: Wash for Sensitive Skin ($30

In addition to using specific cleaners, Dr. Green also recommends facial cleansers like Cetaphil and CeraVe and her own MGSkinLabs Gentle Cleanser, which was designed with sensitive skin in mind. 


Now that a somewhat normal routine is in place once more and we're venturing out of the house, we're definitely amping up the cosmetics game, so let's be sure to ace the cleansing part, too. 

Make sure your brushes get a good scrub every week or two, depending on how frequently you're applying makeup. And do note that most brushes typically have a lifespan of about one to three years. 

Danielle is a writer for woman&home and My Imperfect Life, covering all-things news, lifestyle and entertainment. 


The heart of her time at Future has been devoted to My Imperfect Life, where she's been attuned to the cosmos and honed in on astrology coverage within the Life vertical. She's partial to writing pieces about the next big TV obsession—anyone else impatiently waiting for "Conversations with Friends"—and keeping you up to date on new trends like the latest must-have from Zara. 


Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids and a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, amNewYork and Newsday, among other outlets. 


When Danielle is not working, you can usually find her reading a new book, coffee at hand, or attempting a new recipe. (Recommendations always welcome!)