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Simple Ways to Store and Organize Your Makeup Brushes

Searching for makeup brushes in the bottom of a makeup bag takes time. Even if you only have a few brushes, adding a makeup brush organizer will simplify your life and keep your brushes cleaner and in fine shape much longer.

You may be tempted to throw your makeup brushes in a drawer or makeup bag in no particular order after you've cleaned them, but you'll save time and prevent frustration by organizing brushes. 

When you're in a hurry to get ready for work or a night on the town, you will appreciate having a makeup brush organizer. 

Organizing Makeup at Home

Made of plastic, plexiglass, or similar materials, makeup organizers that fit on a desktop may have different compartments for small, medium, and large brushes. You can buy organizers from cosmetics supply stores or any store that sells makeup. Most organizers are clear, though some may be black.

Tabletop brush organizers aren't that much different from organizers you use for art supplies, spices, or hardware. The wide array of commercially available organizers includes: 

A silicone "makeup brush bar" containing several spaces for you to set brush handles. Brushes remain upright on your dresser or desk, leaving the surface clean and brushes in plain sight. 

Plastic bins of different colors for storing brushes. You can mix and match different size containers, depending on the number of brushes, whether you want to store makeup with the brushes, etc.

Spinning organizers may also have space for cosmetics. You spin the cube around to find the item you need. These organizers have several shelves or compartments, so you can separate different-sized brushes, cosmetics, and make-tools (tweezers, eyelash curlers, etc).

Clear acrylic organizers let you slide in your makeup brushes lengthwise into a silicone plug. Some holders can be used horizontally or vertically

Make a DIY Organizer

If you don't want to spend money on a makeup brush organizer, use your imagination and many items you already have in your home or office to keep brushes neat and within reach. Here are some of our favorite ideas. (If you don't have these supplies at home, you can buy them at a dollar store or discount store.)

  • Create a makeup brush organizer DIY with a fishbowl. Buy one from a pet store if you don't have one at home, fill it with sand or gravel (aquarium gravel will do) and stand up your makeup brushes in the gravel. You'll have everything at your fingertips and see what you need at a glance. 
  • Small planters and vases offer another way to store makeup brushes and decorate your room at the same timeYou can use plastic drinking cups, pencil cups (with or without separate compartments), empty peanut butter jars, or Mason jars. Clean the containers and label them. Small, empty spice jars may work for small or medium brushes. 
  • Short on dresser space? Hang Mason jars (or plastic jars) with brushes and/or makeup on your wall with hooks. Decorate the jars with bows, yarn, or stencils for an added splash of color. 
  • Buy a plastic silverware tray from the dollar store and use the compartment to store brushes and makeup. You can even use another tray to organize jewelry.
  • Use small plastic drawer organizers for brushes and makeup. They're available at Walmart, dollar stores, Bed Bath & Beyond, and other stores. You don't need to use them in your dresser drawer, of course — you can use them anywhere.
  • Use old food boxes (or boxes that held any item you've bought), cover them with contact paper or decorate them any way you like. Make sure the boxes are sturdy enough to hold several times without wilting. An empty candy box, for example, will last longer than an oatmeal box.
  • Make a chest of makeup drawers from cardboard boxes, similar to any stackable chest of drawers you buy at the store. If you don't have a lot of brushes, make smaller, tabletop organizers that lets you see your brushes before you grab them.
  • Use a plastic over-the-door organizer for your brushes and makeup. We usually think of hanging plastic organizers for shoes or the pantry, but you can hang one of these compartmentalized storage bags on the back of your bedroom or bathroom door to keep brushes handy and save space. 

The Best All-Around Makeup Brush Storage Solutions

Most of the DIY suggestions above can be adapted to store makeup along with makeup brushes. After all, you can't have one without the other.

Unless you're a fully-booked, professional makeup artist, you probably won't need to store more than a few brushes for travel or home use. A combination makeup and brush organizer is the best bet for most people. You'll have everything you need to look good in one place, separated by brush size, makeup type, nail polish shade, etc.

Use a Rubbermaid kitchen cabinet organizer (or a generic brand) to store jars or cups of brushes and makeup, and nail polish bottles. Any plastic tabletop organizer can be used to store makeup and brushes, even if it's sold as an office supply holder.

You can buy organizers specifically for makeup and brushes online or at a retail store. Most of the commercially available organizers don't look much different than what you can make at home using cups and containers you have on hand. Some of the storage units online are bigger and made from a sturdier material, but you probably won't need a large organizer unless you're a pro or use a lot of makeup.

How to Pack Makeup Brushes When You Travel

Save space and carry your brushes with a makeup brush roll organizer. You can buy them online from Amazon or eBay, or visit Sephora or upscale sites for elegant, professional leather organizers. 

A brush roll organizer may be made of polysynthetic (PU) leather, which is faux and animal-friendly, nylon fabric, linen, or more expensive genuine leather. Full-grain leather brush roll organizers may come in different colors, and offer compartments for large and small brushes, with a lined or unlined interior. The fanciest types of roll organizers can be personalized with your name or company.

Linen organizers with an interior flap protect brushes but feel softer than real or faux leather. Some roll-up organizers may contain pouches for a dozen brushes or more. After you use the brushes, you clean them put them back in their pouches, and roll up the organizer. These "roll-ups" are easy to stash in a purse or small suitcase. 

Make a brush roll organizer with your choice of patterned fabric for the outside of the organizer and laminate to line the inside. You'll need to use bias tape, wax paper, and lightweight batting to put together this DIY organizer

A zip-up pouch organizer offers another solution for carrying makeup brushes when you travel. A travel case may have up to 30 pockets to store brushes and makeup. Zip-up travel cases have slots and elastic straps on the inside of the lid to keep brushes within reach, and they may have a removable mesh pouch in the middle of the case. Makeup cases can get pricey, so you may want to improvise.

Use a makeup brush organizer bag on the road. Ulta, Sephora, and upscale stores sell bags specifically for makeup brushes. Ulta sells a compact bag with elastic loops to hold up to 36 brushes, and an inside flap to shield the brushes from dirt. Smaller cosmetic brush bags look like a wallet or pocketbook and may carry several brushes. Travel makeup brush sets, with a leather or faux leather case, are available online or at cosmetic stores.

Tips for Organizing Makeup Brushes

Find a place to keep your brushes and divide it into different compartments if you have a lot of brushes. Try to use clear drawers or containers if you have many items so you can spot what you need quickly.

If you store your makeup brushes on your dresser or desk, keep them out of direct sunlight, which can fade paint and bristles. Brushes on your dresser might be accidentally knocked onto the floor and damaged.

Leaving makeup brushes out in the open also exposes them to dirt, dust, pet hair, and prying paws. Consider keeping your brushes in a clear storage box (especially if you have a cat or dog).

Separate brushes into two categories — face (large brushes) and eyes (small brushes) and store in different drawers or jars so the small brushes won't get mixed up and hidden behind the large ones.

Clean makeup brushes often. Bacteria won't spread to other brushes and makeup. Even if you separate and store brushes in a sanitary manner, it won't help if you don't wash brushes at least once a week. Clean after each use if you use a lot of makeup.

Check brushes a few times a year for signs of wear and tear. Bristles will sometimes fall out during use, but you may not notice a brush is ready for the wastebasket until you examine it up close. 

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