Beauty Secrets: Cleaning Vegan Makeup Brushes

August 8, 2014
Beauty Secrets: Cleaning Vegan Makeup Brushes

Care for your beauty arsenal by cleaning your vegan makeup brushes once a week.

When I switched to a set of vegan makeup brushes, I quickly noticed several differences between them and my worn out animal hair makeup brushes. For one, my new vegan brushes were much softer. Plus—they work beautifully. My powder looks airbrushed, my concealer a second skin. Indeed, the Kelley Quan brushes I chose feel like the Cadillac of vegan makeup brushes—if that Caddie ran on wind power and was adorned with faux-leather upholstery, of course. 

But there’s another difference. Because vegan makeup brushes aren’t porous (which is one of their perks since porous hair traps bacteria), the cleaning process is a bit different. Essentially, you want to use a non-oily soap. Most soaps have some oils, but you want to make sure that there’s no oily residue left behind on the bristles. Oily bristles lead to uneven makeup application–not so airbrushed.  

Cleaning Vegan Makeup Brushes (3 Ways):

1. Using a bar of (natural & plain) glycerin soap base. A simple bar of glycerin soap will help remove makeup residue and bacteria from your brush. I specify using a plain glycerin soap base because any bar of soap with built-in “lotion” may leave oily residue on your vegan brushes—i.e. the moisturizing element will sit on top of the nonporous hairs–yuck. Moisturizing bars work better on animal hair makeup brushes because the organic, porous hair will soak up the emollient like a conditioner. 

Method: Massage vegan brush against wet bar of soap. Gently pinch bristles until the soapy water isn’t colored with makeup. Rinse under tap and pinch until there’s no soap in the water.

(Be sure not to put the entire brush under water—just the bristles—if too much water gets into the base of the brush, over time it can wreak havoc on the glue that holds the bristles in place.)

2. Natural dish detergent. Dish detergent is designed to dissolve oily residue and grime, making it an effective natural makeup brush cleaner.

Method: Squeeze a small drop of soap into your palm. Wet the brush bristles of your brush and massage them in a circular motion against your palm. Tilt your soap hand over the sink, allowing the dirty water to run off. Gently pinch bristles until the soapy water isn’t colored with makeup. Rinse under tap and pinch until there’s no soap in the water.

3. Clear, sulfate-free shampoo. A shampoo without sulfate is both gentle and not overly moisturizing. (Milky shampoos tend to be more emollient. Shampoo comes in handy when you’re traveling and you want to clean your brushes but your hotel room doesn’t have dish soap, and you don’t trust that generic bar of soap! 

Method: Follow instructions for dish detergent method. 

To dry (applies to all methods): After pinching (not twisting!) the excess water from your brush, pat bristles on a paper towel or soft hand towel. Reshape bristle and lay brush flat on a dry towel. Never store brushes upright when drying—water will collect in the barrel and possibly damage glue. 

Once dry, store them upright. Unless you’re traveling, keeping them crammed in a bag isn’t your most sanitary option.  

Beauty Secrets: Cleaning Vegan Makeup Brushes

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Photos: Mary Hood

Peaceful Dumpling Beauty Editor and creator of Bisou du Jour, Mary Hood Luttrell lives with her husband in Corpus Christi, Texas. Mary is a freelance writer and writing and blogging consultant. A lover of whole foods, Mary delights in learning new ways to prepare vegan dishes. Mary also enjoys reading and writing poetry, art journaling, running, and practicing yoga and ballet. Follow Mary on her blog Bisou du Jour, Instagram and Pinterest.


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