The brilliantly bold and beautiful Ke$ha once said, “I just like playing with makeup and clothes—so I really don’t feel like there are rules, and if there are rules, then I think it’s up to you to break them.” We have to agree. Makeup is all about self-expression, fun, and creativity. What place does a rulebook have in that? Well, maybe there's just one rule we have to keep: your makeup brushes have to be cleaned.
Indeed, we all know cleaning our brushes is a hygienic must. They're used daily, meaning dead skin cells, bacteria, and other debris are transferred straight from the bristles to our faces. Before you recoil in disgust and/or frantically calculate just how long it's been since you've cleaned your trusty tools, let's talk about why you haven't.
Yes, it's a chore, and it's a time-consuming one at that, but a big part of that annoyance is figuring out how to dry wet brushes. Without fail, they dry unevenly or with bent bristles, which is not ideal when they cost as much as they do. That's why, when we saw a revolutionary hack from a genius Reddit user, we had to share. We got some additional tips and advice from a dermatologist—to make sure we were doing all the right things for our brushes and our faces.
Ready to up your makeup brush care routine? Read on for easy makeup brush drying tips and hacks.
Meet the Expert
- Rachael Burns is a Consultant Dermatologist for Sönd.
Why Is It Important to Clean Makeup Brushes?
Of course, something going on your face should be clean. This will not only ensure smooth application of any makeup but may also be critical for preserving skin health. “If you don’t clean your makeup brushes, you’re likely to clog your pores and cause breakouts due to applying fresh makeup along with older residue that’s already left on the brush,” explains Burns. “In the most severe cases, the bacteria can cause skin infections.”
Having the right products will make cleaning your makeup brushes more effective and less of a chore. Here are a few of our favorites:
If you're looking for a reliable cleaner for your brushes (like when you're traveling), then this one should be at the top of your list. It will remove any makeup residue on your brushes, leaving a germ-free environment. It comes with a textured silicone pad to aid with deep cleaning. Plus, it's free of all the things you'd like to avoid, like sulfates, parabens, formaldehydes, phthalates, mineral oil, and gluten.
This silicone palette can be used to help remove residual makeup, dirt, and oil from your used brushes. Use it with your favorite cleaner to get a deep clean between all the bristles in your brushes without damaging the fibers.
We like this cleaner because it does a great job removing dirt, oil, and makeup debris from your brushes while conditioning the bristles with each use. It’s also vegan and cruelty-free.
Why Is It Difficult to Dry Makeup Brushes?
So why does something so small take so long to dry? “Makeup brushes absorb a lot of water when you wash them, which makes them difficult to dry,” says Burns. “The length of time it takes to dry a makeup brush is dependent upon how you dry them, [but typically], if you left a brush out to dry naturally, it might take up to 10 hours.”
What Are the Best Ways to Dry Makeup Brushes?
Burns says that if your brushes aren’t fully dried when you use them, you aren’t going to be able to apply your makeup optimally. “If you want a precise application, you need to ensure your brushes are dry,” she notes. With that in mind, if you don’t have 10 or more hours to wait around for your brushes to dry, there are a few ways to expedite the process. Burns says that the most effective way to dry your makeup brushes is to use a large bath towel and wrap it around each makeup brush individually. “The towel will absorb the moisture and speed up the drying time considerably,” she notes. “If your brush is taking forever to dry, try using your hairdryer on low heat. It should dry within five minutes.” It also helps to let them hang on a drying rack so that the bristles do not get bent.
Reddit user hey_im_allison shares another deceptively simple trick. "While I'm washing them, I set them down on a towel while I finish washing the others, then I take the time to hang them!" she says. Putting them down on a towel first, like you usually would, soaks up extra moisture that would have dripped off of the bristles. When they are still wet but not soaked, tie them to a bar with a rubber band. They will dry evenly and snap back to their proper shape.
As you can see from the photo, she also adds a fan underneath the brushes to further shorten the drying process, so that's another option if you have one on hand. Otherwise, you just need an elastic to secure to the brush. It looks like our towel rack now serves an alternate purpose as a makeup brush dryer.
But what should you do if you’ve tried the towel, the hairdryer, and hanging-towel-rack-fan setup, and your brushes are still wet, and you have to get your makeup on and get out the door? Burns says that the best option, in that case, is to use a cotton pad to apply your makeup.
Cleveland Clinic. Think makeup makes you break out? It might be dirty brushes. Updated August 25, 2021.