How to Clean Vegan Makeup Brushes [2 Easy Methods]

On my quest to find the best eco-friendly makeup brushes, I learned a lot. The zero-waste mindset dictated that learning how to care for makeup brushes to increase their longevity AND their healthy functionality was a puzzle worth solving.

Since we're all about the environment here, the makeup brushes in question are naturally vegan. Well, I say 'naturally' but the very thing that makes these babies eco-friendly is their use of synthetic bristles over organic animal ones.

Vegan makeup brushes will combine these bristles with recycled materials (like aluminum) and sustainable resources (like bamboo) to create a sturdier constitution that never skimps on softness or efficiency.

Why clean a makeup brush?

Well, the very nature of these vegan makeup brushes means they're constantly being covered in makeup products.

Constant build-up leads to dirty makeup brushes which are not only pore-clogging, bacteria-riddled nightmares for the skin but also hinder the brush's ability to absorb and distribute pigment- it's kinda like dragging a muddy mop across the floor in the hopes of cleaning it.

After all, a deep clean here and there goes a long way, and with consistent and thorough care, you can enjoy clean makeup brushes for years to come.

How to clean vegan makeup brushes

I'm going to give you two options to clean your makeup brushes here; one involves makeup tools specifically designed for cleaning dirty brushes (an approach more commonly used by makeup artists) and the other is a more at-home, DIY approach.

Method #1 materials

  • Brush-cleaning soap- I LOVE Shany's vegan option which is specifically designed to expertly clean makeup brushes
  • Warm water
  • Brush cleaning pad- I use the one from Sigma, which doubles as a makeup remover for my skin

Method #2 materials

  • Non-animal-derived glycerin soap/natural dish soap/sulfate-free shampoo
  • Warm water
  • A paper towel

Method #1

Step one

Apply your vegan makeup brush cleansing product to your brush cleaning pad.

Step two

Take your dirty makeup brush bristles and swirl them around the texture cleaning pad gently, making sure to get both sides of the brush.

Step three

Dab makeup brushes onto a paper towel to dry. If makeup residue is still present, repeat steps one and two until the brush leaves no marks when applied to the towel.

Method #2

Step one

Quickly run your dirty makeup brush under warm, running water making sure to not fully submerge the brush for too long as this can cause bristles to come loose.

Step two (several cleansing options)

If you're using vegan glycerin soap, then simply brush the damp makeup brush against the wet bar of soap. Now, gently pinch the bristles until the water coming off of the brush is no longer clouded with makeup pigment.


Deposit a few drops of dish soap or sulfate-free shampoo into your palm. Massage the wet bristles of your brush into your palm, working in circular motions. Pinch the bristles gently until the residue no longer holds makeup residue.

Step three

Once the pinched bristles are showing clear soapy residue you can rinse the bristles under a warm, running tap until the water coming off of the brush runs clear.

Step four

To remove excess water, gently squeeze the bristles in a pinching motion. Then, gingerly pat the brush onto a paper or hand towel to test cleanliness- if any makeup residue is still showing, repeat steps one through three.

Step five

Reshape any disheveled bristles and lay flat on a cotton or paper towel until dry.

Bonus point:

Unless traveling, store your clean makeup brushes upright and in an open space to keep bacteria and mold from getting into the bristles.


Are vegan makeup brushes good?

Vegan makeup brushes are good in many senses. Their composition combines earth-friendly materials that are either recycled, sustainable, or cruelty-free. Since they're more durable, they also last longer than their organic, animal hair counterparts which adds a zero-waste plus to their already-gleaming reputation.

What are vegan makeup brushes made of?

Vegan makeup brushes are made up of synthetic brushes and other materials that are either recycled or sustainably sourced.

Are synthetic makeup brushes hypoallergenic?

Since vegan makeup brushes are not natural hair brushes, they are naturally hypoallergenic and perfect for sensitive skin. These synthetic counterparts maintain silky-softness that still holds and distributes product across the skin.

Are natural bristles cruelty-free?

Natural makeup brushes are not cruelty-free as they are derived from animals often seeing inhuman and unethical practices being used to do so. As a rule of thumb, anything derived from an animal cannot be cruelty-free so be sure to carefully research products and their ingredients/materials before purchasing a product.

How can you tell if a makeup brush is synthetic?

Makeup brushes will often come with care instructions that allude to their composition. If that's not the case, you can either smell or burn a single bristle to gauge its composition; a synthetic fiber will smell like plastic whereas an animal-derived fiber will smell like hair.

Where to find eco-friendly and vegan makeup brushes?

I have some recommendations in my eco-friendly makeup brush guide.

Final thoughts

Clean makeup brushes not only ensure healthier skin and more effective makeup application but add longevity to the lifespan of your brushes. Since vegan brushes use synthetic fibers, they are naturally more robust which is not to say they don't need care and precaution during the cleaning process.


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