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Makeup Cleaning Tips From a Makeup Artist

Makeup looks pretty, but leaves a pretty sizable mess behind.

And funny enough, before I got into to doing videos, I really didn’t have much interest in heavy makeup. I mean, I wore mascara, eyeliner, eyeshadow every now and then and lipstick for special occasions. I had my makeup done for my wedding and the artist did a KILLER job. While she was doing it I was just fascinated by all the products and tools she was using. I thought that there was no way I’d be able to pull that all off. But, as time went on and I started doing more videos alongside us getting an HD video camera, makeup quickly became a necessity. HD picks up every single flaw, so there’s some prep work required before you go on camera. If you’re a friend of mine, you’ll know that I am a pretty casual girl and hardly wear makeup otherwise.

I’ve taken a few makeup lessons with Vicki Millar, a professional makeup artist, to help me learn how to do my makeup properly for camera work. I’ve learned a lot along the way (and I supplement what I learn with some Goss makeup videos). Recently, Vicki was over teaching me how to do a killer smokey eye (and winged eyeliner which requires mucho practice), and I asked her for some of her best makeup clean up tips that I could share with our community members. She generously obliged, and now I get to tell you all about them!

I’ve combined her tips with a few of my own to create a KILLER top 10 makeup cleaning tip list. Enjoy!

Makeup Cleanup Tip


Brushes with wood bases need to dry on an angle so as to not soak and deform the wood brush handle.
My MAC 266 brush I distinctly remember purchasing with a pot of gel eyeliner many years ago. I never thought to clean the brush (this was long before I started Clean My Space) and eventually it became crusty, stiff and unusable. I figured that I would eventually get around to cleaning it, and one day I did. I plopped that brush in a container with soapy water and let it soak, overnight. In the morning I found the wood on the brush cracked and expanded. The finish came off. It looked like a chewed up pencil, it was sad. Now, due to my frugality I kept it and I still use it to this day, but that brush is a constant reminder that you can’t let brushes soak, or even absorb water. If they do, this cracking and splitting is an inevitability.

So what Vicki taught me is this: after I clean the brush, roll a wash cloth up and lay the brushes on the top of the roll, tilting the bristled end ever so slightly downward. That way, the water won’t absorb back into the wood. Brilliant, and my brushes have been in terrific shape since I started doing this.

I’ve also learned how to hang the brushes from my towel rack to dry. Sounds strange but works like a charm! Take a hair elastic and twist to create two loops. Then, wrap the loop around the back of your towel bar, exposing the two loop ends on either side of the towel bar facing you. You should have two loops, and now you can slip the brush, bristles down, through the two loops! Watch the video to see how this is done, I assure you, you’ll love it.


Clean your brushes after each use, you can even use anti-bacterial hand soap

Woah. OK. This was a major news flash to me. Firstly, I never, ever thought I needed to clean my brushes that frequently, and secondly, anti-bacterial soap seems so sacrilegious for use on brushes! I did a video on making your own brush cleaner, and the recipe is really good…but Vicki says it’s really not necessary. In fact, we can use dish soap, vegetable soap, anti-bacterial hand soap or shampoo. I’ve tried it and it worked fine, and my brushes are A-OK. What I now do is take a drop of soap, roll the bristles in the soap, and run under lukewarm water, rolling the brush bristles around on my hand. I keep the water going until the colour runs clear and then blot off the excess water and lay to dry. It works wonderfully. Now, cleaning the brush every time is something she does as a professional artist, but for someone like me, I will clean my brushes when I think they need it – so foundation and concealer get cleaned after every use, and eyeshadows and blush brushes get cleaned weekly. It takes no time, I’ve spent good money on my makeup brushes so it’s worth taking care of them.

I’ve also got a post up on how to clean a Beautyblender (or related makeup sponge), so be sure to check that out!


Change your mascara monthly

Admittedly, I don’t do this. When Vicki told this to me, I asked her why. She said that mascara is the fastest way to spread an eye infection and that changing it regularly is crucial. Now, to her defense, she is a makeup artist and works with a lot of different people (although she does use disposable applicators). What I know about mascara is that it dries out quickly, especially if pumped frequently. What I do is change mine every 2-3 months, but if I get sick (or should I get an eye infection) I would change it right after. So, I suppose for the more ‘germ aware’ people out there, you can change it monthly, and for people who are not as ‘germ aware’, you can stick with the lower frequency if your health doesn’t change.


Disinfect your eyeshadows

Sanitize your eyeshadows, this sounds strange? But let’s say someone borrows your makeup, or you used it right when you got sick. If you want to kill the germs which may fester, here’s what you can do. Skim the tip layer of the shadow by just removing it with a tissue (i.e. rubbing it quickly to brush off the top layer), and then spritz it quickly with rubbing alcohol and let it dry. This won’t actually harm the shadow, just kill the germs. This is a handy tip!


Avoid cross-contamination by using a spatula instead of your finger

If you have a pot of moisturizer or use any makeup product by digging it out with your finger, you may be better served using a small makeup spatula. They are inexpensive and readily available. the kind of look like a dental tool! All you do is take the product you need out with the spatula, and place it either on your hand or a small palette and work from there, refilling with a scoop from the clean spatula as necessary. It’s quite simple and keeps your products clean.

Easily repair a smashed powder with rubbing alcohol

This is a really fun and easy tip. I’ve dropped my makeup plenty of times, and have seen my expensive eyeshadows smash to pieces. I pick them all up and just let them sit in the pan, and the whole situation gets messy. Vicki tells me there’s a magical fix for this, and it works for any compact powdered makeup. All you need to do is assemble the pieces back together as best you can (and this should be fairly simple if you drop the container and all product is contained), and spray it with rubbing alcohol and let it dry. It works and it saves you money, this is a great tip!!!


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