Friday, February 10, 2012

Brush Cleaning 101

Let's just start off by saying I am no saint when it comes to regularly cleaning my brushes. I used to be amazing at it - back in my first and second years of University, I'd deep clean my brushes once every week or two if I was really lazy. Now that I'm busier with school and married and such, cleaning my makeup brushes falls to a lower spot on my priorities list. I know. I know. It shouldn't.

Cleaning your brushes increases the longevity and softness of the bristles, as well as freeing them of the bacteria and germs that accumulate with every use. I don't know about you, but my brushes always seem to work better after they've been washed. I just wish they'd wash themselves sometimes...

A less than spectacular picture of some of my clean brushes.
When I first became interested in makeup, I used the green Quo Brush Cleanser (175 mL bottle) available from Shoppers Drug Mart in Canada. At that time, it was easy to find the bottles on sale for $9, so it was a quick fix. I'm pretty sure the cleanser contains tea tree oil, because that's what it smelled like. Overall, it was a great cleanser for daily spot cleaning. Spraying a few pumps onto the hairs and wiping the product off on a paper towel or cloth disinfected and cleaned your brush quickly and efficiently. Not to mention the squeaky clean scent.

However, spot cleaning is only good for so long and then your brushes need to be deep cleaned. Back in the day, I was subscribed to Blair Fowler (one of the famous Fowler sisters, also known as Juicystar07) on YouTube. She posted a video back in November of 2009 showing how she cleaned her makeup brushes. I was instantly intrigued because she used such basic items that you could find at home: baby shampoo, olive oil, a household sponge, and paper towel.

Blair's (Juicystar07) "HOW TO: Clean Your Makeup Brushes" video:

I would highly recommend you watch this video if you're looking for a great way to clean your brushes (Note: the actual tutorial starts at 2:20). Cleaning your brushes can be somewhat time consuming, especially when you have as many brushes as I do, but it's definitely worth it. I usually crank some tunes and find it to be relaxing if I'm not pressed for time.

Tips and Tricks:
-Olive oil helps break down cream, liquid and gel products that have built up on brush hairs. By dipping the dry brush in olive oil and then wiping it on a piece of paper towel, the oil will significantly cut down on the amount of time you have to deep clean your brush(es). This method is completely safe. Just make sure to thoroughly deep clean your brush after this first step - the oil will virtually rinse off of the brush with soap and water. I love using this trick on concealer brushes, foundation brushes, and eyeliner brushes.

Cleaning my Quo Precision Foundation brush with olive oil.
Look how easily the oil gets the liquid concealer off the synthetic bristles.
-A pump of antibacterial dish or hand soap will work to disinfect your brushes while you clean them. Baby shampoo is gentle enough for general cleansing, but it does not kill the bacteria that hides on the brush, so make sure to use some form of antibacterial agent to sterilize your brushes while deep cleaning.

-Brushes should be dried upside down, so water does not seep into the ferrule and break down the glue that binds it to the brush handle. I have more than one brush that has suffered irreversible damage from drying my brushes standing straight up - several of these victims' ferrules have come loose from the brush handle. There is no standard way to dry brushes upside-down, but if you Google it, many people recommend fastening your brushes to clothes hangers with rubber bands, hair clips, ponytails, etc. and letting them dry this way. In Michelle Phan's video on brush cleaning, she uses brush guards to stand her brushes upside down in a glass vase/bowl to dry.

-Brush guards help maintain the quality of your brush and its longevity. With time and use, bristles and hairs will splay out causing the brush to be less precise and not as functional as it once was. There are several brands and methods to prevent your brushes from losing their shape. I personally have not tried either of these, but I've heard really great things about both of them.

That being said - I should really clean my brushes more frequently. Reusing them repeatedly without frequent cleansing is not good for the brushes (or my face). Dead skin, sweat, facial oils, bacteria, dirt, dust and old makeup can build up and clog pores, as well as contaminate makeup products with each use. Better to be safe than sorry - especially with the way my face has been acting up recently.

And so, after writing this post - I'm going to traipse off to the bathroom and wash all of my brushes. Then when tomorrow smiles on me, I'll have squeaky clean brushes to use. Yippee!

How do you clean your makeup brushes? Do you make it a habit to clean them regularly? Are there any tips and tricks that you've learned that you can share with me and the other readers??


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