How to Clean Your Foundation Brush

Foundation set and a brush

It’s no secret that we care about our skin. From using makeup to help conceal blemishes and skincare to help prevent blemishes from popping up in the first place, we rely on these things to keep us looking good! We love skincare so much that the average American spends nearly $323 a year on products. This adds up to a whopping 15 thousand dollars spent on skincare in most Americans’ lifetimes. 

But buying products isn’t the only way to keep your skin healthy and acne-free. If you’re not cleaning your foundation brush on the regular, this may be the cause of your unwanted breakouts. This guide walks through how to clean your foundation brush the right way, how often to do it, and when you should replace it so you can keep your skin clean and healthy.

What You’ll Need

Cleaning your makeup brushes is vital no matter how often you use them. But to properly clean your foundation brush, you need the right tools. 

Depending on the kind of foundation you use and your preferences, you may prefer different tools to clean your brushes. However, the two main ways to do so are with water and soap or a makeup brush cleaner. 

Of the two, soap and water are the more common way to clean foundation brushes. Most people already have a gentle soap in their homes, so it saves you from spending money on another makeup product. Make sure you use lukewarm or slightly warm water and a gentle cleansing soap or dish soap. You can also use a gentle facial cleanser as this will get rid of excess oils and bacteria from your brush, just like it does for your skin. 

If you’re looking to use a brush cleaner, look for one with food-grade solvents. These dissolve the mineral powders and oils that get stuck on your brush from your foundation. There are tons of cleansers to clean makeup brushes, so if you have one you prefer, feel free to stick with that.

Steps for Cleaning Your Brushes the Right Way

If you’re using soap and water, here are some steps to clean your brushes. 

  1. Before you get to scrubbing, wet your foundation brush. This removes excess makeup and makes it easier to clean while also getting the bristles ready to wash. 
  2. Next, place some dish soap, facial cleanser, or soap on your hand and lather until bubbly. 
  3. Rub the top of your brush into your palm and lather the tips of your bristles thoroughly. 
  4. Move up to the middle of the brush to clean the center, but don’t spread the bristles out too much.
  5. After about a minute of lathering your brush, rinse it under lukewarm to warm water. 
  6. Let excess water drip out, and let your brush dry while it’s hanging off a counter or on the edge of your sink. You can dab your brush on a towel before you let it air dry, but if you let your brushes stay on a towel or wrapped in a bag while drying, they can collect bacteria and mildew.
  7. If your bristles became deformed while cleaning, reform them to their original shape. 

Things to Avoid When Cleaning Your Foundation Brush

Makeup brushes aren’t the most fragile tools in your makeup bag, but they can come apart easily if treated and cleaned improperly. Here are some things to avoid doing when you’re cleaning your foundation brushes.

First, it’s important to be careful when you’re lathering the bristles. If you’ve ever painted in art class before, your teacher probably told you never to completely smush your brush. The same principle applies when cleaning your foundation brush. There’s no need to completely flatten the brush on your palm. If you do this, it can cause bristles to fall out and deform your brush.

It’s also important to only wash the tips of your bristles with soap and water. The bristles are glued to the brush handle, so using water and soap near the handle can cause this glue to dissolve and the bristles to fall out, leaving you with less brush than you started with.

Avoid using a harsh cleanser with chemicals. This increases the risk of harming your makeup brush, the bristles, and the glue holding it all together. Harmful chemicals can also leave a residue on your brush, so when you use it again, these chemicals are transferred to your skin. Chemicals can then strip your skin of the natural oils and moisture barrier that protects it, which can cause discomfort, itchiness, irritation, or lead to an allergic reaction.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cleaning Your Foundation Brush 

Now that you know what to use to clean your brushes and easy steps to do it, you’re well on your way to being a pro. Here are some other frequently asked questions.

How Often Should I Clean My Foundation Brushes? 

The answer to this follows simple logic. Since we use foundation brushes on our faces, the cleaner, the better. While you may do makeup every day and wash your face every day, you may not have time to clean your makeup brushes every day. Instead, aim to clean them about once a week. If you tend to forget, pick a weekend day when you have a little extra time and make that your regular cleaning day.

Foundation brushes tend to keep a lot of product on them after use, so it’s especially vital to make sure the product doesn’t build up too much. While eye makeup brushes may be able to last two months without being cleaned, it’s important to clean your foundation brushes around once every week.

When Should I Replace my Brushes? 

Just because you maintain your brushes and clean them regularly doesn’t mean they last forever. If you clean your brushes once a week, you can probably get away with replacing your foundation brush every three months. If you don’t clean your brush every week, it may not last three months.

Here are some signs that it’s time to swap out your current brush for a new one:

  • If your brush has a smell. When your brush starts to smell, it could have a buildup of bacteria, mold, or product that’s just gotten nasty.
  • If the bristles start to shed. This is a sign that the glue holding your brush and bristles together has disintegrated.
  • If the brush becomes deformed. It’s normal for your brush to change shape when you clean it, but it should be able to reform to its original shape easily. If it doesn’t reform to its normal shape, it may be time to toss it.
  • If your brush becomes discolored. Similar to having a new smell, if your brush changes color, it’s probably due to bacteria in the product buildup.

If you prefer using a makeup sponge instead of a foundation brush, replace it every two months and clean it just as frequently as you would a foundation brush.

What Kind of Brush Should I Use?

Depending on the kind of foundation you use, you may need a specific kind of brush. Liquid foundation is one of the most versatile, easiest forms of foundation. It doesn’t get cakey at the end of the day like powder foundation can, and it offers smooth coverage over breakouts, acne, and blemishes to conceal even the most textured areas.

Not sure which foundation to choose? HIDE’s Premium Foundation offers long-lasting coverage and even stays on through sweat, tears, and other moisture! HIDE’s Premium Concealer can also be used overtop of foundation to help hide blemishes and provide extra coverage for under-eye circles and tattoos. Plus, both of these products use natural, gentle ingredients without the extra fillers and synthetic stuff. This goes easy on your skin and your brush.

Because it’s a liquid foundation, it’s important to know what brush to use. There are two characteristics to look for when choosing a foundation brush. Look for a duo-fiber foundation brush with synthetic bristles, as this won’t absorb much product.

Want to learn how to apply liquid foundation step by step? This resource breaks it down so you can put foundation on like a pro.


Cleaning your foundation brushes regularly is an important way to keep your skin clean, happy, and free of a breakout. However, breakouts happen. Whether it’s stress, sweets, hormonal changes, or a dirty pillowcase, HIDE has you covered.

With HIDE’s Premium formula, covering acne and blemishes with concealer and foundation is a breeze! Learn more about how to use makeup to cover up acne here. To explore more tips and tricks on concealing everything from scars to tattoos, check out our blog!



Americans will spend $15G on lifetime skincare, this cosmetics retailer claims | Fox Business

This Is How Often You Really Need to Clean Your Makeup Brushes | Allure

How Often Should You Replace Your Makeup Brushes |

Skin Rash from Cleaning Products? Likely One of These Common Irritants | epiphanydermatology