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How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes: A Step by Step Guide

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Half of getting what you want from your makeup boils down to how efficient your makeup tools are. We’re talking about your eyelash curlers, your sponges and of course, your makeup brushes. These tools are only as good as how diligent you are at taking care of them. “Clean makeup brushes are essential for a flawless makeup application and maintaining brush function,” says Kayla Casciano, makeup expert and education executive at Sigma Beauty. “Product buildup in your bristles causes makeup to apply unevenly and wastes product. Not to mention, not cleaning your makeup brushes regularly can cause mold and bacteria, which can aggravate blemishes and breakouts.”

Need advice on how to give your makeup brushes some TLC? We asked Kayla for some tips.

How often should we clean our brushes? 

Kayla: Ideally, everyone should wash their brushes once a week if you use them regularly. Of course, very few people actually do it that often. That’s why Sigma Beauty invented the Sigma Spa® brush care line, the Sigma Dry’n Shape® tools and most recently, our SigMagic™ Brushampoo™, which the beauty world went nuts over! Every one of these helps cut down the time and effort that goes into brush washing so the chore isn’t so daunting.

How should we store our makeup brushes to make sure they last longer?

Kayla: It depends on the size of your collection, but overall you don’t want to smash the bristles, which can change the shape and function of the brush. For smaller collections, we recommend storing them in a cup, bristles up, where they won’t get dusty. The bestselling Brush Cup Holder is the perfect solution, it can be two cups or snapped together around your brushes creating a case. For larger collections, a Brush Case is best. They hold each brush in place without damaging the bristles and are easy to flip through when you need that one crucial tool.

How should we clean our makeup brushes?

Kayla: With proper care, Sigma brushes will last well beyond their two-year warranty and every beauty enthusiast can build their collection as skills and trends develop. Just remember, keeping them clean is important in protecting all the money you spend on makeup brushes.

Here’s how to clean your makeup brushes the right way:

  1. STEP 1: Wet Just the Bristles

    As with washing your hair, the first step is to wet just the bristles of your brush. Run the tips of your brush under lukewarm water without getting the ferrule—the part where the handle meets the bristles—wet. This is to avoid loosening the glue that holds your brush together. Another important thing to remember: Don’t ever submerge your brushes in water!

  2. STEP 2: Wash With a Gentle Brush Cleanser
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    STEP 2: Wash With a Gentle Brush Cleanser

    Dispense a small amount of gentle shampoo or brush cleanser onto the bristles and then swirl it on your hand. For this task, we like using SigMagic™ Brushampoo™ because it’s formulated with all-natural ingredients, like virgin coconut and palm oil, so it’s 100% gentle on our brushes.

    TRY: Sigma also supplies a patented brush-cleaning mat, which features patented textures to get every nook and cranny of your brush. If you’re using any of these mats, swirl your brush on the WASH texture of the mat for a much deeper clean.

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  3. STEP 3: Rinse Thoroughly
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    STEP 3: Rinse Thoroughly

    Run the soapy bristles under lukewarm water. If you’re using the Sigma Brush Cleaning Mat, sweep the brush back and forth where it says RINSE under running water until the water runs clear.
    If you feel that your brush could use another round, repeat steps 2 and 3, but instead of WASH and RINSE, use the REFINE and REFINE PLUS textures of your mat for a maximum clean.

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  4. STEP 4: Squeeze and Dry
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    STEP 4: Squeeze and Dry

    Gently squeeze out any excess water from the bristles and lay your brushes flat on a clean towel or cloth to dry. Once dry, store brushes in a bag like this Satin Zip Pouch separate from your makeup and keep them out of direct sunlight.

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Dermstore Editors

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