How to Clean Makeup Palettes

Makeup looks pretty, but it leaves quite a mess. And funnily enough, before I started shooting videos, I really didn’t have much interest in heavy makeup. I mean, I wore mascara, eyeliner, eye shadow 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 mesmerized by all the products and tools she used. I thought I would never be able to do it all. Well, as time went on and I started shooting more video – and we got an HD video camera – makeup quickly became a necessity! The HD camera picks up every single blemish, so you have to do a little prep before you go in front of the camera. If you’re a friend of mine, you’ll know that I’m a pretty casual girl and don’t wear much makeup otherwise.

I took a few makeup lessons with Vicki Millar, a professional makeup artist, to learn how to do my makeup properly for on-camera work. I learned a lot in the process and am supplementing what I learned with some makeup videos from Goss. Recently, Vicki was with me to show me how to pull off a great smokey eye (and winged eyeliner, which takes a lot of practice), and I asked her for some of her best makeup cleanup tips to share with members of our community. She was very generous, and now I can tell you all about it! I combined her tips with a few of my own to create a killer top 10 makeup cleansing tips list!

How to Clean Makeup Palettes

Brushes with wooden bases need to dry

Brushes with wooden bases need to dry at an angle so the wooden brush handle doesn’t get soggy and deformed.

I distinctly remember my MAC 266 brush that I bought many years ago along with a jar of gel eyeliner.  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 I would get around to cleaning it eventually, and one day I did.  I threw the brush in a container of soapy water and let it soak overnight.  In the morning, I noticed that the wood of the brush was cracked and expanding.  The varnish was coming off. It looked like a chewed up pencil, it was sad.  Because of my thriftiness, I kept it and use it to this day, but that brush is a constant reminder that you can’t let brushes soak or even soak up water.  If they do, cracking and splitting is inevitable.

So what Vicki taught me is this: After I clean the brush, I roll up a washcloth and place the brush on top of the roller, tilting the bristle end down very slightly.  This way, the water doesn’t pull back into the wood.  This is brilliant, and my brushes have been in great shape since I started doing this.

I also learned how to hang the brushes on my towel rack to dry.  Sounds strange, but works like a charm!  Take a hair tie and twist it to make two loops.  Then wrap the loop around the back of your towel rack so that the two loop ends on either side of the towel rack are facing you.  You should have two loops, and now you can put the brush through the two loops with the bristles facing down!  Watch the video to see how this is done, I assure you, you will love it.

Clean your brushes after every use

Clean your brushes after every use, you can even use antibacterial hand soap

Wow.  OK.  This was big news for me.  First, I never thought I would need to clean my brushes so frequently, and second, antibacterial soap seems so sacrilegious to use on brushes!  I did a video on how to make 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, antibacterial hand soap or shampoo.  I tried it and it worked well and my brushes are A-OK.  What I do now 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 run the water until the paint runs clear, then blot off the excess water and lay it down to dry.  This works beautifully.  Now, cleaning the brushes every time is something she does as a professional artist, but for someone like me, I clean my brushes when I think they need it – so foundation and concealer get cleaned after every use, and eyeshadow and blush brushes get cleaned weekly.  This takes no time at all, I’ve spent good money on my makeup brushes, so it’s worth it to take care of them.

I also wrote a post on how to clean a beautyblender (or similar makeup sponge), so be sure to check that out!

Change your mascara monthly

Admittedly, I don’t do this.  When Vicki told me this, I asked her why.  She said that mascara is the fastest way to spread an eye infection and that it’s important to change it regularly.  In her defense, she is a makeup artist and works with many different people (although she uses disposable applicators).  What I know about mascara is that it dries out quickly, especially if you apply it frequently.  What I do is change mine every 2-3 months, but if I get sick (or get an eye infection), I would change it right after.  So I guess for the “germ conscious” people out there, you can change it monthly, and for people who are not so “germ conscious”, you can stick with the lower frequency unless your health changes.

How to Clean Makeup Palettes

Disinfect your eyeshadows

Disinfect your eyeshadows, that sounds weird?  But let’s say someone borrows your makeup or you just used it when you got sick.  If you want to kill the germs that may be taking hold, here’s what you can do.  Simply remove the top layer of eyeshadow with a tissue (i.e. rub it quickly to brush off the top layer), and then quickly spray it with rubbing alcohol and let it dry.  This doesn’t really harm the shade, it just kills the germs.  Now that’s a handy tip!

Avoid cross contamination

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. They look like a dental tool!  All you have to do is take out the product you need with the spatula and place it either on your hand or a small palette and work from there, refilling as needed with a scoop of the clean spatula.  It’s very easy and keeps your products clean.

Fix a smashed powder easily with rubbing alcohol

This is a really fun and easy tip.  I’ve had my makeup fall off many times, and I’ve seen my expensive eye shadows break.  I pick them all up and just leave them in the bowl, and the whole situation gets messy.  Vicki told me there is a magical solution for this that works for any compact powder makeup.  All you have to do is reassemble the pieces as best you can (and that should be pretty easy if you drop the container and it has all the product in it), and spray it with rubbing alcohol and let it dry.  It works and it saves you money, this is a great tip!!!

Clean the pads of an eyelash curler weekly and replace them every 3 months

Eyelash curlers are so funny because they scare men.  I can’t blame them, they look like medieval contraptions designed for the sole purpose of plucking out your eyeball.  Love it.  Also, the little pads that pinch the lashes tend to get clogged over time, and when Vicki teaches me about it, she explains that you can bend the lashes several times and coat them with mascara to get a very nice lash.  So I do that, and it loads up the eyelash curler with mascara, that’s for sure.  What you need to do is put some rubbing alcohol on a cotton pad and wipe the pads clean, preferably weekly. Then buy the refill pads for your curler brand and replace them every few months.

Protect your clothes from makeup when you put on a top or dress

Always think prevention, that’s the message behind tip#8. Protect your clothes when applying makeup by putting a robe or something similar over the garment.  Sometimes I put on makeup before I get dressed, and my sister-in-law actually told me that you can tie a silk scarf (or similar material, I wouldn’t actually use silk) around your face (please avoid anything dangerous) while putting on your top to avoid smudging makeup all over your garment.  I just went to my cousin’s wedding and wore a beautiful bodycon dress that I really needed my husband’s help to get into because I didn’t want my makeup or the dress ruined.  The silk scarf would have helped, a lot.  If you’ve seen my “How to Clean a Cutting Board” video, you’ll see that I’m wearing a white turtleneck.  The shirt was actually for another video, but I smeared makeup all over the shirt, again for the same reason.  So using a scarf is a great idea.

Removing makeup stains

As with any stain, the answer is “it’s complicated”, much like a Facebook status.  The truth is that there are zillions of combinations of products, materials, and other variables that can cause a stain.  So some good general tips are helpful, but it may be best to research your specific stain combination for assistance.

Now, if you do get a stain, you can use dishwashing liquid as a pre-treatment to remove the stain on the garment.  If you use a small makeup sponge, it will help soak up the stain, and you can also use a soft-bristled cleaning toothbrush to gently buff out the stain.  Rinse and repeat.  Many people swear by using makeup remover to remove makeup stains.  That’s a good idea, but keep in mind that many of these are oil-based, so you’ll need to rinse the garment very well to remove the oil as well, so use dishwashing liquid afterwards.  I’ve also heard of people using baby wipes to remove makeup around the collar, which seems to work well.  I’ve used hairspray to remove lipstick from a shirt before, and to my excitement and delight (and relief), it worked!  Finally, powdered oxygen bleach (Oxiclean) also works well for removing makeup stains. Follow the product label, as well as the fabric care label and the product, should do the heavy lifting for you.

Cleaning your lipstick

Let’s say you’re sick, and just before it hit you, you put on your hottest lipstick.  Or your friend borrowed your lipstick and you feel a little queasy about the whole situation.  Even if that didn’t happen, our mouths carry bacteria and it’s not a bad idea to clean your lipstick every now and then.  I’ve seen this done in many makeup stores, and for good reason.   It’s simple: turn your lipstick tube up slightly and wipe off the top layer of lipstick with a tissue.  Then put a small amount of rubbing alcohol (or vodka) in a glass (I think a shot glass would be useful here) and dip the exposed lipstick in the alcohol for 30 seconds.  Then remove it, carefully dab off the alcohol, and let it dry.  This is harmless to the lipstick and keeps it clean and in good shape.

I hope you enjoyed this post, I find it super helpful and have started using these tricks in my makeup routine.

I want to know more about your makeup cleaning tips because your answers are always amazing.  So please tell me, what are your makeup cleansing tips?

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