6 Mistakes You're Making With Makeup Brushes & How To Avoid Them

Makeup brushes are the tools I use to create greatness. And by greatness, I mean acceptable-for-public-veiwing-makeup that makes me feel fierce in the office or confident on date night. Brushes are everyday essentials for beauty, but the mistakes you're making with makeup brushes may be causing more problems than solutions.

Using brushes to apply makeup — especially foundation — mitigates the spread of bacteria, makes your foundation apply more seamlessly, and prevents you from wasting product. You have a choice between brushes with synthetic or natural fibers. I prefer synthetic. Often cruelty-free, these bristles pick up more product and result in less streaking from natural brushes. Natural brushes are great if you're working often with powders, but synthetics are often just as good.

Once you choose the right everyday brushes (I love a flat top kabuki brush for foundation and a fluffy blending brush for eyeshadow) it's important to keep them in tip top shape so they last and do the job. Cleaning, storing, and using them correctly is essential if you want them to work at all.

Below, I've compiled a must-read list of the top mistakes you might be making with your makeup brushes and how you can avoid them.

1. Not cleaning your brush often enough

e.l.f Studio Daily Brush Cleaner, $8, Amazon

While the opinions on how often brushes need to be cleaned differ from once a week to once a month, the general consensus is that regular brush cleanings should be happening! I aim for cleaning my brushes every other week. Your needs may be different depending on how often you wear makeup, but a deep clean of each brush should happen regularly, not just once a year or (gasp) never.

In-between deep cleans, you can spritz a cleaner after everyday use to minimize the build up of bacteria, dead skin cells, oils, and dirt.

2. Ignoring the brush handle

A big mistake that's easy to make: washing the brush head and completely ignoring the handle. Why should you wash the brush handle? Well, this part of the brush gets the most contact: more oil, dirt, and grime collect here than anywhere else on the brush. Keeping it clean and sterilized will keep a lid on the likelihood that acne-causing bacteria will transfer from handle, to hands, to face.

After each use, wipe the handle down with a wet wipe. Easy enough and the routine will help keep your face clear.

3. Using expensive makeup remover to clean your brushes

Sigma Spa Beauty Express Brush Cleaning Glove, $25, Amazon

There's an idea out there that you need wash specifically labeled "makeup brush cleaner" in order to use it on your brushes. False! Any soap will do. As long as it's gentle and safe for your face, it's safe for synthetic brushes.

I use plain Dawn soap to wash my brush heads, but you can use just about anything: olive or almond oil, baby shampoo, hair conditioner, or even a bar of soap. Using a cleaning glove, like the one above, will help save your hands and some time.

Dawn Dish Soap (2 PK), $11, Amazon

4. Not drying brushes properly

A huge post-cleaning mistake is to let your brushes dry vertically, by sticking them back in the container while they're still wet. That moisture can seep into the handle of the brush, damaging it and preventing the brush from ever drying completely. Instead, dry brushes by laying them ontop of a towel and letting them air dry horizontally. Take note from @jennamarr and tie them onto hangers with your hair ties! Genius.

5. Only using brushes for their labeled uses

Morphe Brushes Large Dome Powder Brush, $27, Walmart

Just because it says powder brush doesn't mean you can't use it for blush. An eyeshadow brush can be perfect for carving out that intense contour, while a blush brush may be just what you need for the perfect sweep of highlight. Not everyone's face is the same, so not every brush will be used the same. Experiment with your brushes outside of their intended use, and you may find the go-to tool you never knew you had.

6. Not storing your brushes properly

Bh Cosmetics 10 Pc Pop Art Brush Set, $23, Amazon

It's important to store brushes vertically (after they're dry of course) to maintain bristle and head shape, so the brush will always to what you need it to do. It's hard to blend out a smokey eye when your favorite blending brush is smushed because you shoved it in a drawer. I like keeping mine in a cheap container from Target, something meant for pencils. It doesn't have to be fancy, but it does need to be open and specifically a space for your brushes. You spent the money on them, why not take care of your brushes? Or even show them off?