Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Cleaning Brushes

I was going to combine my previous post on brushes with this one on how to clean them, but I decided against it because it was just too long. Plus, it makes me look like I'm posting more frequently. Definitely a win-win situation.

First and foremost, you must must must must must must must MUST clean your brushes. It's most important with your liquid/cream products, like liquid foundation, concealer and cream blushes because they're the most moist to begin with, and if you pair that with a nice, dense brush, you've got a really nice habitat for bacterial colonisation. And you're going to be wiping that all over your face. All. Over. Doesn't that sound lovely?

Good brushes are an investment. Most of the time, a very expensive investment, so please look after them. Many high quality brushes will maintain their brand new-ness for years if you care for them properly. Years and years.

I try to clean my brushes every time I use them. Like most people, I use two methods to clean my brushes: spot cleaning and deep cleaning. I spot clean every day, which takes literally about 15-20 seconds per brush. Once a week, I deep clean my brushes so that they're product free, which preserves the original condition of the brushes as much as possible.

For spot cleaning, I use the MAC brush cleanser. It's $20 from Myer/David Jones/MAC in Australia. It's about half the price for all you Americans. If make up were the same price here as America, Australia would be perfect. Clothes too.

For deep cleaning, I use the Daiso Puff & Sponge Detergent (for synthetic brushes only!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and the Neutrogena T/Gel Daily Control 2-in-1 Shampoo Plus Conditioner (as my primary cleaner).

I guess I'll start off with spot cleaning. It's pretty much like rinsing a bowl of muesli and yoghurt you've just eaten.

I think of the weirdest analogies.

I hope you all get the idea though. Hopefully you do.

Basically all you need is a tissue, the brush cleanser and.. your brush. I know the MAC brush cleanser is expensive, but it's pretty hard to get here. It was either this one or a 100 mL Manicare one for $14. I was like, seriously? Seriously.

The secret lies in the technique. If you're too harsh with the brush on the tissue, you'll end up with tissue residue on your brush. Lovely. I love this brush cleanser though. You use very little product so it lasts ages, and it seems to be a lot stronger than many other brush cleaners you find. It's certainly stronger than this 64% isopropyl lotion stuff I picked up. That was a disaster. It smelt horrible and overall it was just a waste of money. Don't try to be adventurous like me.

The other thing you can try is using make up remover wipes. They're pretty readily available too, but I personally prefer this method because.. it feels less wasteful to me. Maybe it's an unfounded statement, but that's just me.

Along with not being too harsh with your brushes on the tissue, you want to consider the technique used. For flat brushes, use predominantly back-and-forth motions on the brush, as though you're applying make up with it. That way, you'll target the areas of makeup residue in the direction intended for the brush's use. The same goes for more rounded brushes - circular motions, like a blush brush.

The first step is applying the product to the tissue. You only need a little. A 3cm radius circle is sufficient.

As I said before, different brush shapes will have a different method of cleaning. Flatter paddle brushes, like most foundation brushes, are best cleaned with a back-and-forth motion, as if you're applying your product. If you swirl them around in a direction the bristles are not supposed to move, you run the risk of damaging your brush.

Rounder brushes, like blush or powder brushes can be swirled.

You can see the make up residue coming onto the tissue. The best thing about folding your tissue is that you can just flip it inside-out and use another brush on it. Try not to spend too long cleaning each brush. Because the cleanser is alcohol-based, it dries very quickly and you'll have to use more product. Total waste. I really like how it dries really quickly. It means that I can apply different colours in a matter of seconds.

Deep cleaning is like washing your muesli bowl with soap. It gets rid of all the residue.


So, for synthetic brushes, I like to use the Daiso Puff & Sponge Detergent (review and directions here). I think I added a little too much water. The solution was getting into the brush ferrule which is never good. Granted, it was that broken foundation brush so really, it doesn't matter much to me. The detergent is wonderful at getting out foundation, as you can see below. Note how much water I use. Literally like 3 drops of detergent. Less is more. Trust me.

After you use the detergent, you're going to want to rinse your brush. There are some very important points with these steps.

Firstly, always angle the brush downwards when in contact with water. You want to minimise the chance of water seeping up the ferrule (metal part of the brush), because water will eventually disintegrate the glue holding the bristles together and will shed much more easily. Bye bye brush longevity. You don't want that. Secondly, set a very low pressure for the water - more than a trickle, but you want it very gentle. This makes rinsing a lot easier, and again, prevents water from seeping up that ferrule. Thirdly, place your brush under the water such that it's at about halfway-two thirds up the bristles. Lastly, when you're rinsing your brush, gently squeeze the bristles with your other hand to help the process. Don't be too harsh.

Note the position of the tap and how water rides up the bristles. You don't want that going up the ferrule. The next step is shampooing. I use the 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner because I want the brushes to be slightly soft, but not too soft. I find that using conditioner makes them too soft, and compromises the use of the brush. Other alternatives include just plain shampoo, and the more popular baby shampoo. I like the anti-dandruff stuff, just in case dry skin appears on our brushes.

That totally turned out more disgusting than intended.

Some people like to dilute the shampoo in a container like the one I used with the detergent, but I prefer using a small drop for each brush. I find that it just cleans it a lot better. Each to their own though.

So apply a small drop of shampoo onto the palm of your hand and use the same motion as you did with the spot cleaning. After that, rinse just like before.

You'll know when to stop. The water should run dry and you shouldn't feel any shampoo residue coming out of the brush.

Now to drying your brushes. I know that this seems overly tedious, but you get the hang of it very quickly. It prolongs the life of your brushes, so I'm quite tempted to do almost anything for that to happen. I'd rather not have to splurge because of something of my own fault.

Again, the primary concern is avoiding water seeping up the ferrule. If possible, you want to angle your brushes downwards while they dry. Straight after rinsing, get rid of the excess water by wiping it on a clean towel. You can use anything to hang your brushes from. I use this hair band container and put blue tack on the brushes so that they don't fall down.

Don't laugh.

An important point here is that you don't want the bristles lying on a towel. I hang mine over the counter, so that they're in contact with air. This way, you let the brush dry in a natural shape. Well, as natural a shape as you can get. The other thing is that you want to reshape your brush while it's wet, so that it dries nicely. You can get brush guards that reshape brushes after they're dry, but I don't really find the need to. I may think otherwise when I find troublesome but worth it brushes.

Let's recount:
  1. Spot cleaning.
  2. Deep cleaning.
  3. Drying.
  4. Reshaping.

Important points:
  1. Cleaning is important.
  2. Yes, it is.
  3. VERY important.
  4. I will clean my brushes after every use.
  5. I will spot clean my brushes after every use.
  6. I will deep clean my brushes once a week (at LEAST once a week for liquid/creams).
  7. Angle your brushes downwards when using water.
  8. Water in ferrule = BAD.
  9. I will not lay my brushes on a towel to dry.
  10. My brush bristles will touch nothing but air while drying.
I hope that summarises enough for you!

Lots of love. <3

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