Yes, this is an essential but often overlooked aspect of makeup: brush care. And I want to share some valuable insights into the proper storage of your clean makeup brushes and why it’s crucial for maintaining hygiene and extending the life of your beloved tools. So, please don’t do this after you wash your brushes! Keep reading for my tips and recommendations.

please don’t do this after you wash your makeup brushes
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In This Episode We Cover:

  • Why proper brush care (including cleaning and post-cleaning storage is essential for skin health and your makeup applications).
  • How to effectively clean and store your makeup brushes.
  • Your options for storing your cleaned brushes – and there are a lot!


click here to read the transcript!


Episode 36: Show notes

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Makeup brush care can easily be overlooked, but it is an essential aspect of maintaining healthy skin and achieving flawless makeup application.

Whether you are a professional makeup artist or a makeup enthusiast, regularly cleaning and storing your brushes is crucial. Here’s why.

The Importance of Makeup Brush Care

Neglecting this aspect can lead to the transfer of bacteria, oils, dead skin cells, and makeup residue from dirty brushes to your skin, resulting in irritation, infections, and skin breakouts.

Additionally, using dirty brushes can lead to patchy makeup application with uneven blending.

Therefore, proper makeup brush care is essential for maintaining the health of your skin and ensuring smooth, flawless makeup application.

The Right Way to Store Clean Makeup Brushes

After thoroughly cleaning your makeup brushes, it is equally important to store them properly to ensure they dry effectively and remain free from bacteria.

When storing your brushes, I like to lay them horizontally on a clean surface to allow the bristles to have maximum exposure to the air. And to dry out effectively.

Hanging your brushes with the bristle end downwards can also aid in effective drying, utilizing gravity to help the water or cleaning solution move downwards and evaporate more easily.

A common mistake can be storing your brushes upright. But this can lead to water or cleaning solution traveling inside the brush ferrule, which can damage the bristles and encourage bacterial growth. So please, if you’re doing this now, stop immediately!

Recommended Techniques for Storing Brushes

To effectively store your makeup brushes, consider using a small hand towel folded over to provide a flat surface for laying the brushes.

By laying the brushes with the bristle end overlapping the side of the towel, you can ensure that they are not in direct contact with any surface, allowing for optimal air circulation and drying.

Additionally, lightly spritzing the bristles with 70% alcohol can help sanitize the brushes without overly moistening them.

If you prefer vertical storage options, there are various brush drying racks and holders available, offering space-efficient solutions for drying and storing your brushes. Moreover, using trays with lids or dedicated brush storage tools can help maintain hygiene while housing your brushes in a professional or at-home setting.

Professional Recommendations for Brush Care

Professional makeup artists should adhere to strict guidelines for brush care.

Brushes should be cleaned after every use on every face, and no single brush should be used on more than one face to prevent the spread of bacteria or infections.

When you have time, use a thorough deep cleaning with a brush cleaning soap or shampoo, which is recommended, with special attention to using stronger, solvent-based cleaners for special effects brushes.

Additionally, incorporating 99% isopropyl alcohol followed by a 70% isopropyl alcohol spritz can aid in maintaining hygiene between uses.

Proper makeup brush care is an integral part of maintaining healthy skin and achieving professional makeup results.

By regularly cleaning and effectively storing your brushes, you can prevent bacterial growth, skin irritations, and achieve flawless makeup application.

Whether you are a professional makeup artist or a makeup enthusiast, implementing the recommended techniques for brush care will ensure that your brushes last longer and that your makeup application is always on point.

Implementing these essential tips for cleaning and storing your brushes will not only promote healthy skin but also ensure the longevity of your makeup brushes, allowing you to create stunning makeup looks with ease and precision.

Remember, proper makeup brush care is not only a best practice but an essential part of maintaining a healthy and hygienic makeup routine.

Click here to listen to this episode!


Episode Transcript

[00:00:00]: Makeup brush care has to be one of the most under-discussed and often neglected aspects of makeup.
And it doesn’t matter if your only brushes are a foundation brush at home or your prize collection of thousands of brushes in your professional makeup kit. Now this blows my mind because of just how important it is.
Your brushes touch your face, and if you work as a makeup artist, they touch other people’s faces. And if you don’t regularly clean your makeup brushes, then you leave yourself open to the transfer of bacteria, oils from your skin, dead skin cells, ew, and makeup residue from your dirty brushes to your own skin, mouth, and eyes.
So by simply practicing good brush care, you can prevent bacterial growth, irritation or infections on your skin and reduce the risk of skin breakouts, too.
Your clean makeup brushes give you a better chance of applying your makeup more effectively, and using dirty brushes can result in an application that’s patchy with uneven blending and just a muddy finish.

Cleaning your brushes frequently can give your brushes the best chance of a long lifespan for you.

[00:01:16]: It seems like a no brainer, doesn’t it, to have clean brushes, right? So speaking of neglected aspects of brush care, one thing that springs to mind for me would have to be the storage of your brushes after they’ve been cleaned. And that, my friend, is the topic of today’s episode.

[00:02:09]: Storing your brushes after cleaning them 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. And another reason it’s important to dry your brushes is so that there is no chance of bacteria making its new home inside your makeup bristles.

Now, before we get into details, I just want to add if you are washing your makeup brushes and then just popping them back into a cup, a vertical canister, or in any way standing them upright or on their end, then I want you to lean in and pay attention. I created this episode just for you.

Dry your brushes, or at the very least, give them the opportunity to dry effectively. First of all, let’s take a quick look at the basic components of a makeup brush. From the hard end, you have your handle, and while its function is fairly self-explanatory, it too, should be kept clean.

[00:03:14]: Then you have the metal section of your brush, which is called a ferrule. Now, the ferrule acts as the housing for your makeup brush’s bristles. It protects the ends of the bristles, where they are all fastened together.

Now, this is usually done with an adhesive, so all the bristles are connected inside, and then the ferrule can be clamped around the bristles and it attaches to the handle. If you see those little rings around the handle end of the ferrule, this is called a crimp, and it keeps your brush’s bristles securely in place and all of the pieces connected together to the handle as well.

So we’ve already touched on bristles, but to go over them again, the bristles are obviously the material that transfers your makeup product to your face or to your subject’s face. Bristles can be natural. Hair, such as squirrel, sable, or goat, are the most popular, and they can also be made from synthetic fibers, which in this day and age can actually replicate natural hairs really well.

[00:04:15]: So going back to one of my opening statements, if you store a freshly cleaned makeup brush upright and before it’s dry, the water or brush cleaning solution of your choice will, simply, by way of gravity, travel inside your brush ferrule and be prevented from evaporating properly.
If this occurs, it can lead to damaging your brushes bristles, causing the hairs to be dislodged and to fall out, and also lead to a buildup of moisture, which in turn can also encourage the growth of bacteria.

If you weren’t convinced before, I hope you are now about storing your brushes horizontally after cleaning.

Okay, so let’s take a look at how I like to store my brushes.

So the way I like to do this is by using a small hand towel. Mine are the black hairdressing towels that I use for makeup, and I usually get them in sets of twelve or 24, and that way I’ve always got stock available. But if you’re at home, a clean hand towel or a bathroom towel will do. And I like to fold the dry towel over a few times to make it, I don’t know, let’s say at least just about half an inch thick so that it’s still a relatively flat surface.

[00:05:26]: And it’s always lying on a clean surface, too. And once I have cleaned my brushes, I lay them all with the bristle end just overlapping the side of the towel so that they’re not touching any surface, not the table and not the towel.

Now this allows the brushes to not only be lying flat, but the bristles to have the maximum amount of air getting to them and inside the ferrule, where water or your brush cleaner solution can sneak in and basically give you a great way for your brushes to dry. I then like to give the bristles a quick spritz of 70% alcohol, which will sanitize the brushes. Now this should be light enough not to moisten the bristles entirely, but to just give them a quick overspray with 70%.

Hanging your brushes with the bristle end downwards is also a really effective way to allow them to dry out properly, and this time using gravity to help the water or brush cleaner move downwards to the bristle ends and evaporate with ease.

So if this interests you, you can also look into hanging your brushes from a brush holder if you like. For me personally, I would keep this practice more for at home and not for at work.

[00:06:37]: As a professional makeup artist, I like to keep my brushes contained, so once they have been cleaned and popped away, I don’t like them hanging out in the air. But I just wanted to mention this. If you’re an at home makeup aficionado or hobbyist, this is a great solution.

Now, there’s also some fantastic brush storage tools and contraptions that can also help you with this task. And these can come in handy because they can be really space efficient and help you get into a nice system when you’re cleaning your brushes.

So check out the sleek looking brush drying rack. Although I suspect I’d probably walk into this if it was what I used, unless you had a nice tidy corner and that you could store it that it was out of the way.
The allegory makeup stand is a fantastic vertical option to perfectly store your brushes to dry in, and the silicon makeup brush drying holder is another great space-saving option, too.

[00:07:31]: And you could just pop this onto your makeup mirror as well.

Plus, I think they look pretty cool.

You could even find art store brush stands or holders that will perform this task for you, or even a nice looking tray.

Now, trays with lids became the way of all things in 2020 for us on set makeup artists, and honestly, I still use them to this day despite our Covid regulations loosening somewhat.

They can hygienically house my brushes at any time throughout my working day while I complete other tasks. I love to have a dirty brush tray and a clean brush tray, but if it’s the end of your work day or you’re cleaning your brushes at home and you don’t have any trays, well, a towel is going to do the trick.

My tips for effective brush care are make the time to clean your brushes regularly. If you’re a professional, your brushes will be cleaned after every face and obviously no single brush will be used on more than one face.

[00:08:30]: If your brushes are only being used on your own face, then a weekly clean is a good practice to get into.

My go to brush cleaners are a simple routine of 99% isopropyl alcohol followed by a spritz of 70% isopropyl alcohol at work and in between jobs, a thorough deep cleaning with a brush cleaning soap or shampoo if I have time, and I’ll just give a special mention to my special effects brushes because they are very special, is that I like to use a stronger solvent-based cleaner to clean them as well.

Alcohol doesn’t quite get out the really strong adhesives that I can be using, so looking after them is not only paramount to practicing proper hygiene techniques, but to ensure that they last.

Now, if you need to amp up your brush care routine a little bit, I hope that this episode is exactly what you were looking for right now.

And if you want to grab my free brush care guide, I’ll share with you exactly how I clean my brushes as well.

All of my favorite product recommendations are in there too, as well as my favorite brush drying and storage systems. So simply go to and I’ll have all the details there for you.

Now, how do you like to clean your brushes? It can become something of a ritual, I think.

[00:09:55]: And for me, I love that day.

Usually before a new movie job where I get all my brushes out and I give them a treat. And that treat is that thorough, deep clean and shampoo. And I re-label any stray brushes that have fallen through the cracks without having my label on them.

What’s yours? DM me on Instagram at the makeup refinery and tell me your brush cleaning routines.

If you have a tried and true technique, I’d be thrilled to share it with everyone because it’s what it’s all about, right? That’s what we’re here for. Okay, I hope you enjoyed this episode.

Don’t forget to download my brilliant brush care guide which you can find at brush-care and I’ll see you next time.

Okay, bye.


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