For those of you (like me) who own one makeup brush purchased in 2003 and wondering whether you should clean your makeup brushes at all, the answer is a resounding yes! Though it may seem like makeup brushes don't get that dirty – after all, you're just using it to sweep a bit of powder on your cheeks and eyelids, right? – makeup brushes can be quite unclean. That's because they pick up dead skin cells and bacteria from your skin (not to mention plenty of gunky makeup) and if they're left out on the counter next to the mirror, they're also collecting dust and whatever else might be flying through the air (aerosol hairspray, for example). So what's a gal to do?

Skincare professionals recommend washing your brushes at least once a month, though it's preferable to wash them once a week, especially if you're prone to acne or you use your brushes to apply makeup often. Another bonus to washing your makeup brushes more frequently is it preserves their softness. Makeup brushes can be an expensive investment, and if not properly cared for, can become rough and scratchy over time. Washing them often will keep them soft and smooth.

So how do you clean your makeup brushes?

You could buy a professional makeup brush cleaner, for starters. I know people who swear by their makeup brush cleansers and won't go anywhere without them. If you're always on the go, it might also be convenient to use makeup brush cleansing wipes, which you can keep in your makeup bag.

If you're looking to save money or you'd like less chemicals to be involved, you can clean your makeup brushes with what you already have in your bathroom medicine cabinet. Just follow these three easy steps:

  1. Run your brush under lukewarm water and gently use your fingers to release any makeup residue that might be caked on to the bristles. If you've got a lot of makeup caked onto the brush and water itself is not doing the job, try dipping the brush in a bit of olive oil and then gently rubbing the makeup off. Careful not to soak the brush in oil though – a little goes a long way.
  2. In a small bowl, combine lukewarm water and a squirt of baby shampoo, face cleanser, or even hand soap. Swirl the tip of the brush in the bowl for a few seconds, taking care not to dip the entire brush in the water (if you get the area between the bristles and the handle wet with soapy water, it could loosen the adhesive connecting the two).
  3. Rinse the brush tip with lukewarm water from the tap until you're sure that all of the shampoo or soap residue is gone, and lay the brushes flat to dry on a cotton cloth.

That's it! Easy-peasy, nearly free, and an excellent way to clean your makeup brushes, keeping them in good shape and your skin in even better condition.

How to clean makeup brushes
There are makeup brush cleaner kits you can purchase, but why do that when you can clean them with items you already own?