DIY Brush Cleaner!

So it's Earth Day and I wanted to share a DIY recipe that I've been using for years to clean my makeup brushes. Dawn Soap and organic olive oil are my favorite combo when it comes to cleaning my brushes, and it also keeps my impact on the environment a little lower. Scroll down to see how!

Dawn Soap and Costco brand olive oil

Why These two products Work:

  1. Dawn Soap- Dawn Soap is as safe as it gets for low impact on the environment. I mean, they use it to help clean animals in their Dawn Saves Wildlife campaign. You use the stuff to clean the silverware that goes in your mouth, so how can it not be gentle enough to use on your skin? Along with that, Dawn is anti-bacterial, which means it kills those nasty germs that tend to build up on brushes when makeup starts getting caked on them after long periods of time.
  2. Olive Oil- You don't always have to use olive oil to clean your brushes, but it is helpful when you've got really old makeup caked on your brushes, and soap just isn't doing the trick. It also helps remove waterproof makeup like mascara and eyeliner that tends to take a little more scrubbing under the faucet. Another benefit to olive oil is that it is super moisturizing and has tons of anti-oxidants in it. Have you ever tried an olive oil facial? The anti-oxidants help protect your skin from premature aging, and clogged pores!

You may be asking-

"Why should I use a DIY brush cleaner?"

It may not be blatantly obvious, but using these two products instead of buying cleaner at the store helps the environment because you're not using anything that, when washed down the drain, can hurt the environment i.e. artificial ingredients and the sort. ALSO, whenever I'm done with these bottles I always rinse them out and recycle them! Many of the containers that hold cleaner are not on the recycles list, and therefore go to the landfill.

I have tried buying my own makeup cleaner at the store and most of the time it is expensive, and it doesn't seem like it lasts long time. When you use only two products like this, in such small quantities, it can save you SO MUCH $$$.

"Why do I need to clean my brushes?"

1.    Bits of old makeup are clinging to your makeup brushes, and every time you use them without washing them regularly, you are inviting your makeup to be unevenly distributed on your face. Talk about busted! Also, if you tend to use different shades of makeup often, you can really muddy up the color when your tools are not properly cleaned. Things to consider: you wouldn't eat off a plate that was caked with month old food, so why would you put something on your face with that same mindset?

2.    When brushes aren't cleaned regularly, they can be a breeding ground for bacteria to grow and prosper. Things to consider: dirt + grime + moisture = bacteria. Bacteria + oil from your skin = clogged pores. CLOGGED PORES = PIMPLES. 

"This all seems like a lot of work."

Truth be told using a DIY cleaner is always a lot easier and more effective for me. I have both of these products in my house at all times so rounding them up, slapping them in bowls, and cleaning my brushes takes all of 15 minutes for me. At first it may take you some time to work out the system, but the more you use the recipe, the faster you will get at completing it. Like I always say, practice makes perfect. Let me show you the error of your ways.

Steps for USing this recipe:

1.    Gather your supplies. You'll need Dawn soap, any brand organic olive oil, two small bowls, your makeup brushes, a faucet and a small towel.

2.     Spread out your small towel beside the faucet you'll be using to rinse your brushes. You'll be using this to spread out your brushes for drying!

3.    Pour Dawn soap into one bowl, and pour olive oil into the other bowl. You don't need a lot of each product as you'll be dabbing your brushes into each liquid. My philosophy is less is more. So if for any reason you need more of each, start out small and add as you go.



4.    Dab your makeup brush into the Dawn soap. Gently work the soap through the bristles with your hand from root (the part of the brush that connects the bristles to the handle) to tip (the part of the brush you put on your face) making sure to go with the direction of the bristles (working towards the tip) instead of against it.





* It's okay if you work the soap really well into the brush, just as long as you're gentle. We don't want to ruin the shape of our nice brushes... they cost us money! *

5.    For those brushes with caked on makeup, use a little bit of olive oil! Dab the brush into the olive oil and do the same motions with your hand that you did with the soap. As you work with the bristles, the old makeup will melt right off.



* I used my liquid foundation brush as an example. Look at all the old product coming off of that brush... YUCK!!! *

6.    Turn on your faucet and set it to an appropriate temperature. You want the water to be warm to help kill bacteria, but not hot as hot water will melt the glue that holds the bristles in place and it can also burn your skin if you're not too careful.



7.    Rinse your brush under the faucet. Use your hand to swirl the brush in your palm until the water runs completely clear. I always gently squeeze my brush under the water to get rid of any pesky residue trapped in the bristles. 




* Your brush should look something like what is here pictured to the left. Brushes should be fresh and clean and ready for drying. If you still see old makeup, don't be afraid to dab your brush into your soap and olive oils bowls one more time. It's kind of like washing your hair- follow steps 4 & 5, rinse and repeat. *


8.    Air dry your brush by gently blotting any excess moisture and placing the brush flat on your towel. If needed you can reshape the bristles with your hand. Brushes that are bigger with more bristles or thicker bristles will need a longer time to dry. Plan for at least a couple of hours for dry time. The worst thing you can do is use your brushes when they are not 100% completely dry. Especially for those of you who use powder foundation, setting powder or powder blush/bronzers. Using these products with a damp brush will clump your makeup and ruin your look for the day. You'll end up wishing you had been patient from the beginning and just waited. I like to wash my brushes right before I go to work or on Sundays, so I know I've given them enough time to dry completely before using them again.

9.    Repeat steps 4-8 for all of your brushes.

*Things to Note & Other Tips*

  1. Using a lot of olive oil to wash your brushes and not rinsing all of the oil off can cause your brushes to have an oily residue once they are dry. Make sure you are rinsing really well when you apply olive oil, and if it's not coming off just dab it with a little extra soap- it'll clean right up.
  2. Do not dry your brushes with the bristles sticking up to the sky (like for example putting them in a cup together to dry facing up) because this can cause moisture to get trapped in the handle of your brush, which can then damage the glue holding your bristles in place, which can then cause your bristles to fall out over time. Also, remember what I said about moisture + bacteria? Don't do it.
  3. You don't have to use dish soap, but I recommend it. I have heard that a lot of people like to use baby shampoo because it makes the bristles on their brushes extra soft.Any soap can be used to substitute this part of the recipe as long as it is anti-bacterial soap.
  4. I am not slamming brush cleaners that you can get at the store. There are plenty of brush cleaners that you can buy at the store that are organic & natural, and there are even more coming out all the time. The point is that this is my preferred method for taking care of my makeup brushes. It's a hassle for me to drive to go get fancy cleaners that I know are going to cost me a pretty penny when I have these simple products right here at home. BUT, do you! If you like how cleaners from the drug store work, then keep using them. I just thought I would share one of my favorite, easy, and efficient ways to get a good clean for my tools.

Now you are ready to clean all of your makeup brushes regularly, and with the environment well in mind! Consider this part of your new Sunday routine. As always, if you have any questions, comments, concerns, or poetry please feel free to let me know. 

Otherwise, take it away y'all!




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Christine Severin