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Cleaning Your Make-Up Brushes: Part One

Posted by Sunaura 17/08/2017 0 Comment(s)


Whether you need to sterilize your brushes between clients or give your own make up brushes some TLC, brush cleaning is crucial for any makeup enthusiast or pro. Make up residue builds up over time on your brushes and the more product makeup brushes hold the stiffer they become and the harder they are to clean. Cleaning your brushes regularly means your brushes apply makeup evenly and you’ll get better colour application.


From a dermatological point of view your make up brushes should be cleaned as often as possible. As brush hairs and sponges are porous, they hold on to oils and bacteria, so keeping your brushes clean means you’ll avoid bacteria build up which can lead to unwanted break outs and infections. Dirt and bacteria can get trapped in the bristles and this can irritate your skin and clog your pores. Regular cleaning extends the life of your brushes.


Before choosing your brush cleaner, you should think about what you need from it. Does it need to be quick drying, deep cleansing, sterile? We’ve tested out our brush cleaners here at Sunaura and sorted out the pros and cons for you... 






First up is the MaqPro Paris Brush Cleaner


This brush cleaner is designed to remove stubborn product from your brush, and is particularly good at removing lipstick. Pour a small amount of Brush Cleaner into a small dish, dip your make-up brush into it and swirl around for a few seconds before removing, and then wipe with a tissue. The Brush Cleaner is specifically formulated to separate the product from the cleaner, so the make up residue sinks to the bottom and you’ll have multiple uses! You just pour a small amount of the MaqPro Paris Brush Cleaner into a bowl and dip brushes in and you see the product come apart from the brush and sink to the bottom, ensuring all the product has been removed from the brush (which is what we did.) You can use the same small amount again and again! This is especially convenient if you need to clean a lot of brushes fast!


This cleaner is suited to pro makeup artists who need a quick cleaning method between applications. Perfect for on set. The cleaned brushes were soft and dry within seconds. The convenience of this brush cleaner is second to none – all you need is a bowl, a tissue and the cleaner. You can even get yourself a jar with a screw-on lid so you can close up the used cleaner and use again for a few more days. The fast drying is also a major plus - meaning you can get back to applying makeup almost instantly.


Best for:

Lipstick and waxy products, and for a fast-drying cleanse. Will also allow you to sit a dirty brush in the fluid so it is cleansing while you work


Not so good for:

Foundations or face paints







Sunaura Isoproyl Alcohol 99% (IPA)


A true favourite amongst makeup artist for a quick, cheap way to sterilize your brushes. IPA will remove just about anything from a brush! If you are using alcohol activated makeup, adhesives or doing SFX makeup, this is going to be the easiest way to remove it from your brushes. You’ll need to work fast too as the alcohol is fast drying! Alcohol can be very drying especially on natural fibres like sable. We recommend a quick wipe with some Pro Clean afterwards to keep your brushes moisturised and always remember to cleanse your brushes regularly to keep them from drying out.


Best for:

Glues, alcohol-based products, prosthetics, or for disinfecting brushes between clients


Not so good for:

Deep-cleansing of brushes







Hive of Beauty Brush Cleaner


When we tested out the Hive Brush cleaner it was clear that it wasn’t for deep cleansing brushes, but more to keep them fresh in-between cleans. It is a gentle cleaner and will not harm brush hairs. Put a small amount of brush cleaner onto a tissue and gently brush though hairs to the tip – good for maintaining cleanliness if powders have been used on the hairs but a deeper clean will still be needed later. For foundation removal, we did try the Hive Brush Cleaner with the Brush Egg and it did build up a lather and remove a lot of foundation from the brush.


Best for:

Quick cleansing of powders and for freshening/conditioning brushes.


Not so good for:

Liquids or creams, although it works better if used with the Brush Egg. Brushes must be allowed to dry before reuse








Pro-clean is an oil based cleanser, and when used as a brush cleaner it removes product quickly and leaves brushes feeling soft and silky. Because of its oily texture any tacky residue slips off.  It removes tough products like adhesives and alcohol activated paints.  This brush cleaner also requires no drying time which is perfect for on set.


Best for:

Glues, alcohol-activated paints, face paints


Not so good for:

Cleaning a large quantity of brushes as it is more expensive than other methods






Hard Soap


A regular bar of soap is one of the best and cheapest ways to clean your brushes at home. But it must be hard soap! Liquid soap or shampoo does not work nearly so well as they penetrate the hair and get mixed up with the dirt, which means you have to work quite hard to remove creams and liquids. A bar of soap, on the other hand, will very quickly remove foundations and creams, leaving the brushes squeaky clean and free from residue build-up. A very simple, cheap, unperfumed bar of soap is usually best – the cheaper and simpler, the better! We strongly recommend that all brushes are cleaned regularly with hard soap, even if proprietary brush cleansers are used for convenience as well. We recommend the Brush Egg for use with Hard Soap, to really cleanse the brushes thoroughly and hygienically.


Best for:

Deep-cleansing brushes at home or at the end of a make-up artists day. Works very well with foundation


Not so good for:

Quick cleansing, as brushes must be allowed to dry thoroughly







Brush Egg


Brush Eggs are great for deep cleaning your make-up brushes! Made from a rubber material, the Brush Egg has two different types of grooves on the side to effectively clean your brushes. The smaller knobs on top are great for foaming and lathering your regular brush cleaner, while the larger grooves on the bottom are used to agitate the brushes just enough that they release excess product, dirt and oils without stripping them.


Best for:

Use with hard soap or a conditioning shampoo-type brush cleaner such as Hive Brush Cleaner. Helps to speed up the cleaning process


Not so good for:

Not needed for proprietary brush cleaners that are wiped on (such as IPA or ProClean) or dipped (such as Maq Pro Brush Cleaner). 



Watch out for part 2 of this brush-cleaning blog, where we take you through a step-by-step guide to our recommended brush-cleaning process for fully cleansing your brushes with a bar of hard soap or with the Hive Brush Cleaner …


What do you think? Did this help? Do you have any favourite brush cleaners or brush cleaning methods, or have you tried any of our suggestions above? Let us know in the comments…


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