black handle makeup brushes

How to Dry Your Makeup Brushes

And no, it doesn’t actually involve your hair dryer, spin dryer, blow dryer, dry cleaning or any other labor-saving drying device!

Why Do You Need to Dry Your Makeup Brushes?

It’s like the chicken or the egg. This question comes hot on the tails of another often asked question that makes me cringe with bacterial fear.

Why Do You Need to Dry Your Brushes?

Because You Need to Clean Your Brushes!

And if you clean your brushes, part of that process is them being dry as well!

Let’s face it – nobody wants to use dirty makeup brushes. Ever. Not on themselves, or on anyone else. Apart from being professional in following proper hygiene practices, it’s downright irresponsible.

And at the end of the day, as a professional makeup artist, you want to protect your client or talent as much as you want to protect your own livelihood each day, right?

Yeah, it’s kinda serious.

Think about our little friends, bacteria.

Bacteria thrive in damp environments. In fact, anywhere that’s wet – well, it’s a breeding ground for the little brats.

So if your brushes have been cleaned, and you’ve shoved them into your makeup bag, or stored them in their canister (upside down, aaaargh!!!) then it’s not going to take long until bacteria starts setting up shop inside as well.

I can’t stress this enough – you must dry your clean brushes!

It’s very important!

Products don’t apply as well. Products don’t work as well.

There are no single plus sides to not working with clean, sanitary tools and brushes.

End of story.

Okay, deep breaths as I calm down now. But it’s just really important!


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makeup brush diagram
Anatomy of a makeup brush


How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes

The market is flooded with makeup brush cleaners of all types.

What some people like, others cannot stand. And I find that it all usually boils down to smell.

There is a couple of very well-known makeup removers that yes, absolutely remove the most stubborn glue or makeup product from your beloved brushes, but smell horrendous! Yes, I said it.

I have worked in trailers that could not be stocked with certain removers because an artist didn’t like a particular makeup brush cleaner. Hey, we all have our own tastes.

And I know it might sound weird, but I think of my brushes with love. They are very special to me. Some carry memories of when and where I’ve used them, and on what faces, countries, years. Yep, they’re pretty special. And yep, maybe I’m a bit weird for doing so!

Others are just my solid faves.

Nevertheless, makeup brushes and their subsequent brush care is a VERY PERSONAL THING!

Okay, now let’s look at exactly how to clean your makeup brushes – the right way and the best way (and I’m not biased!).


How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes

1. Set up a quick absorbent surface to use to wipe off the makeup product from your brushes. I like to use a folded dry paper towel or a clean towel.


2. Set up your favorite brush cleaner dish and fill it with your favorite remover. Most of the time, I use 99% alcohol. If I have a stubborn product that just doesn’t dissolve with 99%, I will surrender and head for the Parian Spirit, or Cinema Secrets Brush Cleaner, but this is a rare occurrence.

It is also mainly reserved for my special effects brushes – particularly the ones I use for glue and makeup adhesives. More on that another time.


3. Dip your brush into your brush cleaner bowl to soak the bristles.

Pro tip – Aim to only dip the bristles in about 2/3 of their length, and no further. This is because you want to try to avoid having your brush cleaner travel up inside the ferrule and making contact with the brush head – the part of the bristles that is cased inside the ferrule.

Most times the bristles or hairs are held together with an adhesive and the last thing you want to do is disturb this glue prematurely, and possibly shorten the life of your brushes.


4. Wipe your brush back and forward on the paper towel or hand towel.

This will soak up the residual makeup and product from your brush. Then only go in a backward and forward motion. This goes in harmony with the grain of the hairs on your brush, and will help preserve your brushes for a long time.

In other words, try to avoid a frenzied scrubbing motion or a circular motion with the bristles. This can bend or break the hairs, and works against the angle that they are held in the brush.

NOTE – I’m not a fan of those gimmicky containers that involve rotating the brush at speed to clean them.

To me this (there’s that word again) labor-saving device is pure gimmick, and in time, will cause the bristles of your brushes to splay out into the shape that they are forced into while spinning at high speed. Not a fan. But that’s just me.

5. Pop your freshly cleaned brush to the side, laying it down. Repeat until you’ve cleaned all of your brushes.

6. If you’re cleaning your brushes at home, you can lay your brushes on a folded-up towel. I like to try to do this so the angle they lie at is downwards from the hard end of the brush to the bristles. But I have the towel folded so that the head of the brush is raised up off the surface of the table they are on.

This is so the air can get to ALL of the bristles in your precious brushes. And the downwards inclining angle ensures that no moisture travels or ends up inside your brush head.


Who knew there was so much to such a task? But this is my go-to drying process. Thorough, but thorough with good reason.

But in all honesty and seriousness, I have had some of my makeup brushes since the early to mid 1990’s (didn’t you see my cameo in Jurassic Park?) and they are still going strong due to good, thorough care.


Brush Cleaners

Cinema Secrets Brush Cleaner

Cinema Secrets Brush Cleaner

The Cinema Secrets Makeup Brush Cleaner is an industry-wide much relied upon makeup brush cleaner. It will dissolve and clean any makeup substance from your makeup brushes.

It is solvent-based and has a very strong scent. However, if you do a lot of special effects heavy work and use a lot of makeup adhesives, this is the makeup remover you should carry in your kit.

Find Cinema Secrets Brush Cleaner here.


Makeup Brush Cleaning Matt and Bowl Set

Makeup Brush Cleaning Mat and Bowl Set

I love this set. In fact, in general I love silicon tools and matts for work. They are flexible, hard to damage and sturdy. But this two in one set is a great way to have a bowl and cleaning matt for your brush cleaning, AND to keep your bowl separate from any makeup remover bowls you might use. Love it!

Find the Makeup Brush Cleaning Mat and Bowl Set here.


How to Dry and Store Your Makeup Brushes The Right Way

Once you have cleaned all of your brushes, the next vital step in the process comes.

Storing your brushes is so important, for so many reasons.

First of all, you want your brushes to be dry the next time you use them, right? So if you take a minute to store them correctly and with care, they will indeed be dry.

It’s also important to dry your brushes so there is no chance of bacteria making their new home inside your makeup brushes. Having said that, I like to store mine out of direct sunlight if I can help it.

I know I mentioned these steps above whilst talking about cleaning your brushes. But I feel compelled to repeat it again. It’s just that important. In case you haven’t been paying attention, DRY YOUR BRUSHES!!!


Step 1. I like to fold a dry towel over a few times to make it at least 1/2 inch thick, so it’s still a relatively flat surface.

Step 2. Lay all of your brushes with the bristles just popping over the side, so they are not touching any surface. You can even find art store brush stands or holders that will perform this task for you. Or even a nice-looking tray.

Trays with lids became the way of all things in 2020, and honestly, I still use them despite our Covid regulations loosening somewhat. They look tidy, and can hygienically house my brushes at any time through the day, while I complete other tasks. See below for my go-to tray!

But if you don’t have any trays, a towel will do the trick.

Step 3. I then like to give the bristles a quick spritz of 70% alcohol to sanitize the brushes. This should be light enough not to moisten the bristles entirely.

Step 4. You can also look into hanging your brushes from a brush holder if you like. Personally, I would keep this practice more for at home, and not at work. I like to keep my brushes contained, and once they have been cleaned, popped away and not hanging out in the air….but I just wanted to mention this for home makeup aficionados and hobbyists.


Some of the Best Drying Tools and Storage Options for Your Brushes


Makeup Brush Drying Rack

Makeup Brush Drying Rack

While these may not be your cup of tea, what I like about the racks is that they do offer an option to keep your brushes facing bristles down. This allows all remover to go by way of gravity, and not inside your precious ferrule.

This rack is a brilliant device to easily and safely help your dry makeup brushes. It may be better suited for home use, but nevertheless, a nice way to store your brushes the right way while they dry.

Find the Makeup Brush Drying Rack here.


Alegory Makeup Brush Stand

Alegory Acyrlic Makeup Stand

Check out this perfectly designed stand for drying your brushes overnight. The compact footprint and vertical design make this a brilliant option to use at home or at work. Love it!

Find the Alegory Acrylic Makeup Stand here.


Makeup Brush Drying Holder

Makeup Brush Drying Holder

Find your Makeup Brush Drying Holder here.


6 Slot Horizontal Acrylic Storage Display

Acrylic Storage Device

Although I haven’t used this storage tray for storing my drying makeup brushes, I think it looks like a great solution. Let me know by commenting below if you have.

Find the 6 Slot Horizontal Storage Display Tray here.


Silicon Vertical Brush Holder and Drying Rack

Silicon Vertical Brush Holder and Drying Rack

Another innovative design that I am totally into here. I think I’m going to have to try one of these out. I love the idea that it can just pop onto your mirror and do the hard work while you get on with other tasks.

Also perfect for at home as well. Clean your brushes in the evening, slot them into your silicon brush holder, and they dry while you sleep. Sounds like a plan to me!

Find the Vertical Brush Holder and Drying Rack here.


Magnetic Stainless Steel Pencil Holders

Magnetic Stainless Steel Pencil Holders

Yet another super cool product I haven’t tried, but I bet there’s some swift “MacGuyvering” to be done with these cool vertical holders, and perhaps, say a coat hanger, or metal strips. They could easily attach to your makeup mirror….just sayin’.

Find these Magnetic Steel Pencil Holders here.



Sterile Tray with Lid

Sterile Tray With Lid

This is the type of tray that I have been using since 2020. They look clean and sterile, and can also house all of your dirty brushes in case you have to race to set, or jump straight onto one makeup after another, with no time to clean in between.

I have at least two of these trays nowadays, and still love and use them

Find this Sterile Tray with Lid here.


Spring Cleaning for Your Makeup Brushes?

Every once in a while, or between each production (or more frequently if I can!) I like to do a thorough deep clean of my brushes.

Particularly my beauty brushes. They tend to be made from softer and finer bristles (and some natural bristles, ugh, I know…but I only buy synthetic brushes now!) and I like to give them some extra TLC when I can.

If I don’t have my favorite brush soap on hand, I like to use a gentle shampoo and lukewarm water. And if you’re at a pinch, even a gentle soap. But I prefer a brush soap.

It’s like giving your brushes a spa day!

The process is exactly the same as my step-by-step guide above.

The only difference being once I have rinsed out the shampoo, I then follow with a conditioner.

And regardless of the products you use, be sure to gently squeeze out the excess water once all rinsing is done.

And then store exactly the same way.


I kinda feel like I’m on the debating team for cleaning and drying your makeup brushes right now. But I really can’t stress how vital following all of these processes really are.

So I hope I’ve shown you the best method to keep and maintain clean makeup brushes. And why.

But with proper care, and the time it takes to carry out these tasks each day, week, month you not only ensure that you are looking after your person’s face, and doing your actual work to the best of your ability, but you are doing so with the professional care and awareness that they deserve.

And you do too.

Would you like to keep on reading about makeup brushes? Click here to learn about makeup brushes – how they are made, what to look for in a good quality brush, and all the brush types under the rainbow!


Did you enjoy this post? Was there something in there that you learned about? Perhaps you know someone that needs to hear this stuff. Please do me a favor and share this with someone that know has some brush cleaning habits to work on!

Featured Image by lil’ old me!

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