How to: Care for your makeup brushes

I definitely don’t clean my brushes as often as I should, but I’m making this one of my resolutions for 2012. (And yes, I’m already working on a list of resolutions even though it’s only October!) Cleaning your brushes will help them last longer, perform better and keep them from holding on to the natural oils they pick up from your skin, which can cause unfortunate breakouts. I have two techniques to share with you.

Makeup Brush Quick Clean (once a week):
What you need: Distilled water (or water you’ve boiled and let cool), tea tree oil, natural or organic shampoo, small spray bottle, old towel.
To make: Mix 1 c. distilled water, 2 tbsp. tea tree oil, and 1 tbsp. shampoo, without making suds. Once combined, pour into a spray bottle.
To clean brushes: Spritz a few times on both sides of your brush, then wipe the brush on an old towel until the brush leaves no makeup behind. Store flat to dry. (Note: You can also purchase a ready-made brush cleaner, like this one from Jane Iredale.)

Makeup Brush Deep Clean (once a month):
What you need: Bowl, distilled water, natural or organic shampoo, old towel.
To clean brushes: There’s no recipe here, because it’s basically a technique. Swirl your brush in the water. Keeping the tip down (so the water doesn’t wash back into the glue that adheres the bristles to the handle), swirl the brush into a pea-sized dot of shampoo in the palm of your hand. Return brush to the bowl for a rinse. Wipe the brush on the old towel, and store flat to dry.

Are you good about keeping your brushes clean? I’d love to hear about your tips+techniques! —Aleigh

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2 Comments on How to: Care for your makeup brushes

  1. KellyLove said on

    I do this pretty regularly (once a month now that I’m wearing makeup 5 or 6 days a week!). I wear Bare Minerals makeup exclusively, so I use their brush cleaner in the palm of my hand (good control to twirl the brush and I clean one brush at a time with a fresh dab of cleaner and rinsed hand). I press them in a hand towel to get rid of excess water and then let them dry in an upright jelly jar or glass so they’ll retain shape.

    I would love to know if you have any ideas for cleaning boar bristle brushes. One would naturally think “shampoo and water,” but I’ve ruined one with that technique (place where handle meets round brush got waterlogged and separated). The shampoo is SUPER hard to wash out of the boar’s head bristles, which is why I soaked it, but the wooden handle probably shouldn’t have been immersed. Baby powder? A wet cloth? I don’t want to use chemicals that can transfer from brush to hair (especially now that I’ve finally gotten used to sulfate-free shampoo).

    >> Reply

    • indigo+canary said on

      These two techniques should work well for brushes with any kind of bristles–but you’re right about needing to be careful not to submerge the entire brush or even let too much water run back toward the handle because it can loosen the glue that adheres the bristles to the handle. That’s why I recommend letting your brushes lie flat to dry–it keeps any leftover water from ruining the glue.

      However…makeup brushes don’t last forever, so it’s possible that if you’ve had a brush not wash well, it’s too worn. The other option might be using a shampoo or cleanser that is too harsh–some kind of very gentle shampoo is best. I haven’t noticed a difference with the temperature of the water I use, but you could also try lukewarm water instead of hot or cold.

      Sometimes if a brush is really special it will have special care instructions (sort of the “dry clean only” version of a makeup brush)…in that case I would suggest using the manufacturer’s instructions or sticking to the spray method to minimize the risk of damaging the brush.

      Hope this helps!


      >> Reply

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