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Breaking Down Beauty: Washing Your Brushes

By Sheila

I’ve talked about the importance of washing your brushes before, but I thought it would be handy to show  you in photos. Brushes can be pricey, but they really are a life-long investment, and with that in mind, it’s important to treat them with care!

I wash mine about once a month or so, and that really keeps them in tip top shape. In the meanwhile, I’ll use a brush cleanser or baby wipes to clean them when changing colors.

MAC sells a fantastic (and cheap) brush cleanser.

All you have to do is put some of the cleanser on a tissue and wipe your brush clean. It doesn’t take that long to dry, but I recommend waiting a bit before using a new color.

You can also use baby wipes for the same purpose. As the mother of a two year old, the best and cheapest on the market are the unscented up & up brand (aka Target’s generic version). They are fantastic and work well for so many purposes!

Now, on to the washing of the brushes.

Big warning – as I was going through the photos, I realized I really should have cleaned my sink beforehand! Aaack! So my apologies in advance!

Cast of Characters:

1. Your brushes

2. A container to wash them in – I use a 99 cent flower pot from Ikea, which I also use to store my brushes.

3. Shampoo – any shampoo will do, I used DevaCurl’s Low Poo because it was handy.

Step One: Fill your container halfway with warm water,and add your shampoo or whatever you’re going to use to clean your brushes.

Step Two: Use your brushes to agitate the water, and then let the brushes soak for about five minutes.

Step Three: Rinse your brushes under warm water. I like to rinse them all together first, to get out the soap, and then I’ll go and rinse them all individually. It doesn’t take that long, just a couple of minutes.

Step Four: Use a towel to take away the excess moisture and shape the brushes. Sometimes they’ll get a bit splayed, and now’s when you can reshape them.

Step Five: Now that your brushes are clean and damp, lay them down straight on a towel and let them air dry. If you do this over night, they will be dry and ready to use in the morning! And once you use a fresh, clean brush, you will be so glad you finally got around to washing your brushes!

How often do you cleanse your brushes and how do you usually do that?

  • http://makeupaddict.org Sara(m)

    I’m a little cautious about letting brushes soak during the cleansing process. The position can deform the hairs, and water up in the ferrule (the metal bit that connects the hair to the handle) can weaken the wood and glue. I always try to keep my brushes from getting water near the ferrule at all – water only needs to get onto the hairs themselves!

    For the same reason, I always handle wet brushes with the hair pointed downward, so gravity brings water away from the ferrule and the handle. The Brush Guard protectors (a very cool invention!) make it easy to dry brushes in a gravity-friendly downward position… and they keep the hairs neat and tidy while everything dries. They are a fantastic investment, and really cheap as well.

    There are a couple of quick-dry products on the market for artists who need faster washing. I really like Parian Spirit, which does a good job breaking down oily or waxy products. You can use that to deep clean, or just a little bit to sanitize brushes in a hurry. I use a quick cleaner for on-the-go and do a good deep clean with MAC brush cleaner or J&J baby wash when I have more time to wash and dry thoroughly. :)

  • Gini

    I’ve never even thought of washing my brushes before! Um…oops!

  • http://www.rubysbeauty.com Lisa

    I wash mine when they start getting really dirty and don’t work well for applying any new color. I usually just squirt a little hand soap in the palm of my hand and rub the brush in it, then rinse and lay it flat to dry. Probably not the best way to do it, but I by $1 ELF brushes so I’m not too concerned.

  • http://thevinylwordandothermusings.blogspot.com Deb

    I use the MAC brush cleanser. My MA at MAC said you can even dilute the brush cleanser a little to make it last longer.

  • Leticia

    I cleanse my brushes after each use. I have acne prone skin, and the thought of only washing my face brushes even once a week makes me wonder what kind of bacteria it can be harboring.

    I do not soak my brushes. I use a gentle, sulfate free shampoo (it is natural hair on my brushes, and I treat it as gently as my own hair), and then use a conditioner on them. I let them sit for a few minutes, then rinse completely so that the conditioner doesn’t break me out. My brushes look fantastic and are nice and soft.

    Oh, and for my MAC 187 that I use for foundation I use some olive oil on it it break down the foundation (Revlon ColorStay), and then shampoo and condition as normal.

  • admin

    Great idea for using olive oil to break down the foundation … I would never have thought of that!

  • Ninjagato

    I make my own brush cleaner for daily spot cleaning and then (try to remember to) wash once a week. I mixed equal parts water to rubbing alcohol added a squirt of eyemakeup remover and a squirt of shampoo and a couple of spritzes of leave in conditioner. It works like magic to get product off brushes. For weekly deep cleaning I use shampoo on a (clean) kitchen sponge and sweep my brushes against it. There are users like EnKore and MichellePhan on youtube who have really concise videos on how to wash them properly and I learned my method from EnKore.

  • Ange

    I was them like my hair –gentle shampoo and rinse right away. Always brush facing down and dry them on a paper towel.

    I aim for once a month but realistically probably end up washing them once every 2-2.5.