Clean Your Makeup Brushes Like a Pro


Honolulu (KHON2)- Living808 Style Expert Crystal Pancipanci is sharing her pro tips for cleaning your makeup brushes and sponges for a new edition of Dear Panci.

Alyssa of Honolulu wrote in:


How do you clean all your makeup brushes and sponges? I am the worst at remembering to clean them. Is there a specific brush cleaner I need and how often should I be cleaning them?

Your Radiant Sister,

Alyssa @TheRadiantSister

Crystal responds, “ CLEAN YOUR BRUSHES!  It’s one of my pet peeves, seeing dirty brushes.  But I too, forget to clean my personal brushes regularly.  Makeup brushes need to be cleaned on a regular basis otherwise they can harbor dirt & oil which gets transferred onto your skin. 

As a professional makeup artist for over 15 years, I have used many of the “brush cleaners” that are available on the market that work amazing. But you do not have to wait to purchase these items in order to start cleaning your brushes. No excuses lady. 

You can totally DIY and use household products such as dishwashing liquid or shampoo with a little bit of coconut to clean makeup brushes effectively. 

Makeup gurus have been using Dawn dish soap for its powerful degreasing properties for years!  I personally use a dollop of Dawn dish soap to create a “brush bath & sponge soak.”  The Dawn grease-cutting formula helps make it easier for all the oily makeup residue trapped in the bristles & sponges. I also like to add a little bit of coconut oil to help break down heavy makeup buildup. 

In addition to brush cleansers or dish soap, you could also use a gentle face cleanser (such as Cetaphil) or even baby shampoo. 

Happy Brush Cleaning! 


Things you need to clean your makeup brushes like a pro at home:

  1.  Dawn liquid soap, 
  2. 1 tbsp. coconut oil (You can also use olive oil as well) 
  3. A glass container or mug
  4. Soap Bar (I like Dial Antibacterial Soap)
  5. Lukewarm/ Hot Water
  6. Cleaning brush pad.  A body exfoliating cloth or hand mitt also works if you have one. 
  7. Clean Towels to squeeze water out of brushes
  8. Drying Mat (Clean Towel also works here)
  9. Paper Towels
  10. Rubbling Alcohol, Hand sanitizer (To wipe down brush handles)

PANCI’s Step-by-step Brush Cleaning Method:

  1. Squeeze a dollop of dish soap or gentle shampoo + 1 tbsp coconut oil  into a glass/mug
  2. Fill with warm/hot water fill to cover bush bristles only. (Do not overfill, to prevent loosening the glue or brush bristles from handles.)
  3. Place brushes upside down in your soapy “Brush Bath.” Let her SOAK for a least 15mins
  4. Repeat step 1 in a separate container soak your sponges and beauty blenders in  “Sponge Soak” in for at least 30 mins. The soapy water will help push out all makeup residue out of blenders.
  5. Swirl your brushes in the water and gently massage the bristles to further remove the gunk.
  6. For additional cleaning, swirl brush onto a soap bar or add more liquid to your hand. Swirl around to clean out exta makeup buildup let on brushes.
  7. You can also use a brush cleaning pad or  body exfoliating cloth or hand mitt for easier cleaning.
  8. Tip: Be careful not to damage brush bristles when swirling on to pad or hand to hard or in the wrond direction. Make sure to maintain the brush shape.
  9. Rinse out all the soap and oil with lukewarm to hot water.
  10. Rinse until water until soap suds are gone and carefully squeeze the water out . Keep brush shape
  11. Lay flat to dry out completely  (Overnight Preferred)
  12. Wipe down brush handles with alcohol before storing

How often should I be cleaning my brushes?

On average, you should deep clean each makeup brush at least every 7 – 10 days, especially brushes that are used most often such as foundation and concealer brushes.  The ideal goal would be DAILY clean, even if it just quickly cleaning brushes on a makeup wipe after each application.  Especially your sponges and beauty blenders. 

What happens if you don’t clean your brushes?

It can really mess up your next “Flawless” makeup application or worse, your pores can get clogged up & can possibly cause a breakout. “If you don’t wash your makeup brushes enough, you spread dirt and bacteria from your face, to your makeup, then back to your face,” explains Crystal Pancipanci, pro makeup artist and beauty expert. Also don’t forget to clean out your makeup bag and edit out old makeup. 

Watch and learn Crystal’s best tips and tricks. Crystal is a regular contributor on Living808 who’s ready to help with any fashion, beauty or lifestyle advice.

If you have a question, email

“Dear Panci” is a bi-weekly recurring feature on Living808 in which viewers questions submit letters to Living 808 asking for advice from resident style guru Crystal Pancipanci. Letters which are selected for our show get on-air answers and become a launching pad for discussions about fashion and style that everyone can use.

Crystal Pancipanci is one of Hawaii’s most influential forces in fashion today. As a celebrity stylist, make-up artist and television personality, Crystal has been sought out for Fashion and Beauty expertise on the Today Show and Hawaii’s leading morning shows.  Crystal is also a principal contributing fashion stylist for Ala Moana Magazine and Modern Luxury Magazine.

With her passion for fashion and contagious enthusiasm, Hawai’i-born Crystal Pancipanci is a genuine, multi-talented, modern-day woman and mom. Through her beauty and fashion advice, she strives to inspire and empower others to look and feel their best, always celebrating the beauty and story of being a woman.


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