This post is somewhat overdue but as they say, it’s better late than never. Many of us have considered changes to our skincare routines as we started the new year in search of a more flawless complexion. If you wear makeup, there is one change you can make independent of your skincare routine which has the potential to improve both your complexion and the way your makeup looks. That change is to establish a regular routine for cleaning your makeup brushes, sponges, and related tools. Here comes a scary bit of information for you:
Only 61% of women are cleaning their makeup brushes once a month, if at all according to a recent survey. Those who do clean their brushes do not clean them as often as beauty experts recommend.
This info came from a Buzzfeed article that you can access here.
I have been in the habit of cleaning my brushes monthly but must confess that I now know that I need to increase my frequency. If you’re wondering what the bad things are that happen when you don’t clean often enough, they are summarized in the Infographic here. It covers all of the items you’d expect related to breakouts, infections, and even worse the risk of pest infestations. The other hazard I want to mention is that when your brushes are dirty, you’re not going to get the makeup results you desire. If your eyeshadow application is muddy for example, you can bet that your brushes aren’t clean. I’ll share some solutions below, but if you’d like the gory details beyond the summary in my infographic, you can click here for the full article by Summer Arlexis.
Proper brush cleaning doesn’t only provide skincare and makeup application benefits — it will also protect your investment in your brushes. Proper care of your brushes means that they will last and perform their function for many years. The investment in a single brush can be significant. For example, on the Beautylish website prices for a single powder brush range from a low of $28 to a high of $424 for a handmade Chikuhodo Premium Line P-8 brush. This uber expensive brush is made of the rare long hairs from blue squirrels.
So with that as background, how often should you be cleaning your brushes? I thought monthly was good, but makeup guru Bobbi Brown in an interview with Allure magazine provided different, more specific guidance which is as follows:
For concealer and foundation brushes, at least once a week to prevent a buildup of product. And because these brushes are used on your face, the cleaner, the better. Brushes that are used around the eyes should be cleaned at least twice a month, while all others can be washed once a month.
Now that we know all of the reasons why we should be cleaning our brushes regularly, and that regularly really varies based on where and how the brush is used, I’d like to share some of the tools and products that I use to clean and maintain my brushes. These are the products that I use regularly and actually pay my hard earned money for. You may find other products that you prefer, but hopefully, this will give you some ideas for building or updating your cleaning regimen.
First off, you need some sort of cleanser or shampoo for your brushes and Beautyblender if you use one. I have tried both liquid and solid cleansers and find that there is much less product waste with a solid. For my brushes, I’ve been using a goat milk based shampoo which provides conditioning benefits but doesn’t leave a residue. It also has a bit of tea tree oil as an anti-bacterial. You simply wet your brush and swish it around in the soap to create a lather. In the past, I’ve purchased this from Beautylish and Dermstore, although it appears that neither of them has it in stock at the moment. Worst case it appears that you can buy it on the London Brush Company website. One additional benefit is that it comes in several different fragrances. I’ve tried the Lemon Zest and English Lavender and both make the brush cleaning chore more pleasant. London Brush Company also makes a vegan version if you object to goat milk.
By the way, when I regularly used a Beautyblender, I used their solid cleanser and had good results with it. I had to use way more product with their liquid, and I did not like the dispenser. It was difficult to keep it clean and to dispense the product. Since purchasing my Kevyn Aucoin foundation brush I only use my Beautyblender for travel so the solid cleanser is also much more convenient.
For the gym or when traveling, I use the Japonesque brush cleaning wipes (see image below). These are great because they are individually packaged. I also have the Color Switch Duo by Vera Mona (above and at right) which is a really clever idea. It is a dry sponge within a can that you wipe your eyeshadow brushes on when you switch colors so that the colors don’t become muddy. When the sponge becomes dirty you insert a replacement. The duo has a smaller sponge in the center that you dampen and use for wet shadow application. I don’t recall where I originally purchased this, but now you can buy them from Sephora with their packaging or directly from Vera Mona. This tool has really helped with my eyeshadow application.
One other cleansing product in my arsenal is Laura Mercier’s Brush Cleanser. This is a spray that you spritz onto the brush and then wipe away the dirt and makeup with a paper towel. This is a product that I put in the same category as Japonesque wipes — great for a quickie cleaning but not as thorough in my view as a full shampooing.
There are three tools that are an essential part of my brush cleaning regimen. These are the items that assist in the cleaning process and help me prolong the life of my brushes. This is really important to me as about a year and a half ago I replaced and expanded my collection of day to day brushes. I started out with the Anniversary Set from Wayne Goss (thanks to Beautylish for their 3 payment plan). I later added the Holiday or #00, the #11 Powder, and Air brushes. I also received the brow set in my 2015 Beautylish Lucky Box so I have quite the collection of Goss brushes now.
The first essential tool is my brush tree. Benjabelle makes a variety of these which you can see on the Beautylish website. They’re also available on Amazon. This image shows exactly how I use it. Once I’ve washed a brush I cover it with a brush guard (my second essential tool shown above) and hang the brush upside down to dry. The brush guards help your brushes maintain or regain their shape after washing. The brush tree allows you to hang the brushes with the bristles down so that you don’t end up with water in the ferrule which can ultimately compromise your brush by loosening the very part that holds all of those little hairs together and is where the brush head is connected to the handle. I remember back in the day not being careful about this and the brush head falling off of a Bobbi Brown brush (or two). I was so uninformed about brush care that I actually soaked my brushes in the sink — please do not do this. The final tool in my cleaning arsenal is the Cityvivo Brushegg which you can get on Amazon for $2.99. This is a handy tool for safely “scrubbing” your brushes. It’s like a washboard for your brush and helps get the makeup and grime out.
Finally, you’ll notice in the image of tools and products two other items that I keep on hand. Both are by a company called BeautySoClean and they’re also available at Beautylish. Not only will bacteria turn up on your brushes and tools, it also ends up on the surface of your products (think about those in-store testers – it’s the same thing). The sanitizer wipes are a quick, easy way to wipe off your makeup products like lipsticks. I also use them to wipe down my tweezers and eyelash curler for example. The sanitizer mist is used to clean dry products like eyeshadow without altering the product you’re using it on. You just spray it on — it dries fast and then you’ll know that shadow or powder blush is clean and fresh.
So, now that you’ve read this post I’d love it if you would take a moment to participate in a quick one question poll about your brush cleaning habits. Results are anonymous, and there isn’t any judging going on here. You will see the updated results with your answers included when you finish. I hope I’ve given you useful information to update your cleaning routine if needed. I’d love to hear about your favorite cleaning products and what impact your brush cleaning routine has had on your skin’s overall health and appearance.