Cleaning up for Autumn

October 4th, 2023

October 4th, 2023

Now Autumn is here, student MUAs are starting at – or returning to – college and university, and professional MUAs and makeup lovers are changing their palettes to warmer winter shades.  Whatever you do with makeup – as a student, pro, influencer or someone who practices at home on family and friends – keeping your kit, brushes and tools clean and sanitised is key. Cleaning up for Autumn

Dirty brushes and sponges are a breeding ground for bacteria. You may be shocked to learn what germs they can harbour which is one of the many reasons why you should keep your tools scrupulously and hygienically clean.

We asked Benjamin Moffat, the managing director of ISOCLEAN, one of the UK’s top brush and tool sanitsation brands – used by the professional MUAs working at ITV as well as PrettyLittleThing to keep their brushes in top condition – about why kit cleanliness and hygiene are so important.  We also look at the brands MUAs use to keep their brushes, tools and kit in tip top condition, and the certification you should get if you put makeup on someone else’s face – even if you’re not a pro.

Cleaning up for Autumn

Why is it so important for a make-up artists to keep their kit clean?

BM: As every make-up artist or make-up enthusiast knows, your make-up brushes are the most important items in your kit and are essential for the smooth application of your products and the quality of make-up you create.

Your brushes are, therefore, an investment, so it is vital you look after them to prolong their life and keep the bristles in shape so you can create precise, flawless coverage.

Make-up brushes not only accumulate pigment, liquids, powders and oils from products, but they also become laden with dust, dirt, sebum and dead skin cells. But more importantly, dirty make-up tools can quickly become a breeding ground for bacteria which can then get transferred to the skin where they can cause everything from mild irritation to acne, herpes, skin irritation and other allergies.

They can also be the cause of premature ageing! Dirty brushes expose the skin to oxidative stress from free radicals, causing a breakdown of collagen and elastin, resulting in fine lines and wrinkles.

Make-up brushes should be thoroughly cleansed and disinfected on a regular basis and certainly after every client to avoid cross-contamination.

You’ll find your brushes will last for longer too and the bristles will stay soft and supple, which makes for better blending, sharper lines and overall application. Product build-up causes the bristles to become rough and blunt, potentially feeling ‘scratchy’ on your clients’ skin, resulting in irritation and sensitivity.


Health problems that can occur

BM: When you realise the number of skin conditions and infections that can occur from using dirty make-up brushes, you’ll realise that regular cleaning is not to be over-looked!

A recent study carried out by Aston University in Birmingham in October 2019 confirms the need for regular cleaning and sanitising. Key findings from the university’s research on 467 used makeup products showed that nine out of 10 were contaminated with bacteria, including E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus, as well as fungus.

Makeup sponges were by far the worst offenders and the most fungus-laden products, with 96% of the 79 sponges containing fungus.  93% of makeup sponges had never been cleaned and 64% of those had been dropped on the floor and continued to be used….

Boils, conjunctivitis, cellulitis, impetigo, acne, congestion, rosacea, herpes and staph infections are just some of the more unappealing results of dirty brushes and blenders that can be passed from client to client.

Cleaning up for Autumn

How should you clean make-up brushes and sponges?

BM: Daily cleansing leaves brushes clean and sterile, and looking and performing like new.

It can be challenging (and seem like a chore) to sterilise brushes effectively and to have them pristine, dry and ready for the next client, but it is really important that you do this. General cleansing, wiping brushes with a tissue or wipe or spritzing may well get rid of product but these options are not necessarily anti-bacterial.

To effectively eliminate bacteria you will need a cleaner that will kill 99.9% of bacteria


There are a number of different types of product and brands who produce high quality, effective cleansing products for your brushes, tools and kit, and we have highlighted the Warpaint family’s favourites below.

Cleaning up for Autumn

Liquid Cleansers

ISOCLEAN liquid Makeup Brush Cleaner (from £12) and Cosmetic Sponge Cleaner (from £8) are fast-drying cruelty-free and vegan-friendly formulas that gently and effectively cleanse and dry brushes and blenders within 60 seconds, killing 99.9% of bacteria on contact. The formula strips brushes of product – dislodging even stubborn formulations such as lipstick and concealer, without causing damage to the bristles. Anti-bacterial properties prevent skin infections, congestion and breakouts whilst aloe vera conditions and softens bristles, leaving them soft to the touch.

Cinema Secrets Brush Cleaner (from £13) was formulated by professional MUAs for MUAs. It has the power to sanitise makeup brushes within seconds, ensuring every brush is kept clean between touch-ups, meaning no delays to on set schedules. The quick-drying brush cleaner carefully and effectively removes makeup, dirt and bacteria on both natural and synthetic brushes without the need for water, a true game-changer Formulated with a delicate vanilla fragrance, the rinse-free solution is available in three sizes and helps to not only sanitise brushes but deodorises bristles and reduces the chance of breakouts.

Parian Spirit Brush Cleaner (from £7.50) contains citrus spirits and food grade solvents to cut through oil-based makeup and adhesives, whilst being gentle to natural and synthetic hair bristles. Strong but gentle, it has no artificial scents, parabens or preservatives.  Fast-drying and no water rinsing required, it conditions brushes as it cleans. It’s also perfect for cleaning lace and removing spirit gum and other adhesives from your hair pieces and wigs. It can also be used to clean prosthetic pieces and even skin.   It’s also a great product for wiping off any makeup from clothes, wigs and false eyelashes.

Dr. Bronner’s 18 in 1 Castile Soaps (from £8.79) are ideal on set as they are long-lasting, organic, suitable for sensitive skins, vegan, cruelty free and fairtrade.  From The Crown and Britannia, to Brassic and Bridgerton, the gorgeous scents have been escaping from kit bags on set. The gentle formula helps to prolong the life of precious makeup brushes. Made with organic and certified fair-trade ingredients, packaged in a 100% post-consumer recycled bottle the liquid soaps are good for just about any cleaning task. Formulated without synthetic preservatives, detergents, or foaming agents. Available in a variety of scents, including unperfumed.

Beauty Hygiene Plus Deep Cleanse Sponge & Brush Wash (from £6) was created specially to condition makeup brushes and help improve makeup application.  The special antibacterial shampoo wash formula hygienically cleans and conditions all types of makeup brushes and sponges. The wash dissolves and removes makeup, oils, pigments, grime and dead skin cells. Deep cleans and sanitises dense makeup brushes right up to the ferrule, where oils and bacteria lurk. Kills 99.9% of bacteria. Lightly fragranced leaving sponges and brushes fresh and hygienically clean.


Brush Soap/Solid Cleansing Bars

Bar soap can get the job done as effectively as liquid options and can be paired with the liquid formulas for an even deeper clean.

ISOCLEAN Carbon Make-up Brush Soap (£10) is an activated charcoal cleansing block that includes an integral scrubbing mat to cleanse deep down in the bristles, alongside working to diminish spores and microbes.

By Joy Adenuga Brush Soap (£20) was created by the Pro MUA and melanin specialist.  The solid brush soap is a vegan cleansing bar that comes with a brush cleaning mat that can be inserted into the lid.  Gentle to your brushes and being kind to your skin. Ideal for those with sensitive complexions, the fuss-free formula works really hard to rid your brushes of product build-up by all the ingredients crystallising to dissolve it in a natural way. Infused with vitamin C, olive fruit oil, shea oil and Chinese licorice to soothe the skin and comes in Tangy Orange, Oud Essence and Vanilla Essence scents.

Attracta Awards 2019

OSCA Make-Up Brush Cleaners (from £8.50) cleanse, disinfect and condition in one pot. Based on rice bran oil which is lightweight and fragrance free, this professional brush cleaner delicately conditions brushes and sponges without leaving a residue, as well as having antibacterial properties. With added essential oils to formulate an effective cleansing action, it is available in four refillable fragrances: Rose & Geranium, Tea Tree, Citronella and Lavender & Rosemary. The silicone pots are robust and re-useable – refill tablets slot in.  The lid also has an integral cleansing pad so it’s very transportable.

Professional make-up manufacturer Kryolan Brush Soap (from £10.35) offers a luxury deep clean and conditioning treatment for brushes.  Infused with thyme extract known for its natural anti-bacterial properties and natural orange peel oils to dispel grease build-up, the Brush Soap not only leaves bristles super clean, soft and supple, but with a fresh citrus aroma.  Ideal to use as a deep clean treatment, it is vegan friendly with no artificial fragrances.

Cleaning up for Autumn

Makeup Sanitisers

It’s not just your make-up brushes and sponges that need cleaning either. Unhygienic tools not only spread germs across the skin but they also transfer bacteria onto make-up products, so you need to consider cleaning your palettes, compacts and containers regularly too.

ISOCLEAN Make Up Sanitiser (£17) can be used to clean your make-up products, containers and makeup palettes, quickly eliminating germs and bacteria to leave your cosmetics hygienically clean and free from infection.  Eco refills are also available.

Beauty Hygiene Plus Quick Dry Makeup Sanitising Mist (from £6) was developed specifically for makeup, including powder palettes.  Helps to maintain product integrity and extend the life of makeup, whilst also improving makeup application.  Suitable for pallets, creams, gels, powders, lipsticks and pencils.  Delicate enough to clean and sanitise make up without any damage to the makeup formulations.  Clinically proven to kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses with effective results in just two minutes.

Cleaning up for Autumn

Tool Cleaners/Sanitisers

Don’t forget to clean all your other tools as well – tweezers, lash curlers, scissors etc. They can be soaked in cleanser too and then left to dry.

Beauty Hygiene Plus Quick Dry Beauty Tools Sanitising Spray (from £5) suitable for all hard makeup tools made from glass, metal, wood, plastic and rubber. Clinically proven to kill 99.9% of bacteria, yeast and enveloped viruses, with effective results in just two minutes.  Formula suitable for hard beauty tools such as tweezers, eyelash curlers, pencil sharpeners, face massage rollers, cuticle pushers, nail clippers and files.

ISOCLEAN Biocidal Surface Cleaner (£3) prevents cross-contamination of harmful bacteria across surfaces, as well as eliminating microbes such as E. Coli. Designed for work spaces, counters, dressing tables and can be used on all hard surfaces.

Dr Bronner’s Organic Hand Hygiene Spray (£5.49) available in peppermint and lavender fragrances, can be used to keep hands, tools and hard surfaces sanitised, and smelling gorgeous.


Brush & Tool Cleaning Gadgets

STYLPRO Makeup Brush Cleaner and Dryer (£29.99) is an automatic ‘washing machine’ for your brushes, spinning them clean and dry in less than 30 seconds so they are ready to use straight away. Fits all brush sizes and removes dirt, bacteria, and stains.

STYLPRO Squeeze Makeup Sponge Cleaner (£39.99) deep cleans your sponges in 1 minute, squeezing and spinning them until they sparkle.  The Squeeze removes long-stay foundation easily and faster than hand soap and squeezes your sponges five times harder than you can with your hands. It reduces the amount of water, energy and time used when cleaning sponges.

Both can be used with the Stylpro vegan certified Brush Cleanser (£14.99) or Sponge Sparkle (£12) that clean and condition, or use your own liquid cleanser.


Courses for make-up artists

Maintaining a high level of cosmetic hygiene is an essential part of being a make-up artist to prevent spreading infections and diseases, whether you’re a pro, student, influencer or a home enthusiast.  It is important to keep your certification up to date and have regular refreshers on hygiene standards with a recognised provider.


ISOCLEAN offers a free Habia (the Hair and Beauty Industry Authority) recognised Cosmetic Hygiene Standards Course which is suitable for everyone including absolute beginners.

There are five modules covering everything from micro-organisms and infections relevant to make-up services, sanitation methods, and managing contamination, to the ISOCLEAN regime and legislation and insurance for make-up artists.

Upon successful completion of the programme, you will be entitled to receive a Habia endorsed ISOCLEAN certificate (£10) as well as apply for ISOCLEAN’s pro-membership scheme which gives you 50% discount across all ISOCLEAN products.   For more information on the pro scheme, or to enrol, click here.



Cleaning up for Autumn

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Cleaning up for Autumn



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