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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Makeup brush cleaning for less

Once or twice in a month, I always find myself starring at my makeup brushes, trying to make up some lame excuses so that I don't have to do the tedious work - cleaning some 20 makeup brushes. This is alway proved to be a waste of time, however, as I would just end up standing in front of the sink playing with water, bubble and brushes for an hour or so. How fun is that.

Cleaning brushes is something I care about a lot for 2 reasons. For one, I don't want to put germs on my face - my skin condition can get unstable at times, germ is the last thing I want to break me out. Another reason is that those brushes cost me a fortune, I would love them to last as long as they can. Some people may suggest using those fancy brush cleaners which also have a fancy price tag, with little research I found some cheap and convenient alternatives to brush cleaners. They work miracle - I have been using them on some of my brushes for several years now and they are still as good as new.

cleaning makeup brush

Let's get our hands wet and dirty after the jump

Step 1 - Cleaning the brush with detergent

cleaning makeup brushes with detergent

Put some warm water onto a plate, add a few drops of detergent. Dip the brush into the plate to soak up the solution (bristles only, don't wet the ferrule), Then gently rub the brush against a clean kitchen towel - you can rub it directly in the plate, but I found the water get murky so quickly, especially with foundation or powder brushes, that I have to change the water all the time, figure it saves some time and water to use a towel instead.

I have tried several detergents ever since I bought my first brush many years ago:

Makeup brush cleaning with Daiso Sponge cleaner
at the front - Daiso makeup sponge cleaner (around US$1.5)

For many years, I have been using sponge cleaner to clean my brushes. At the beginning I did look for a brush cleaner, after countless trips to beauty stores and drug stores, all I could find were some Japanese brand sponge cleaners. As I could not find a "real" brush cleaner, I was settled with the sponge cleaner as I thought they were essentially doing the same job. The Daiso sponge cleaner is the one I'm currently using and this little pink bottle is quite famous in the chinese community as far as I know. I guess it's because of the price tag, it's $1.5 for 80ml, you can't beat that price. 

Cleaning makeup brushes with Kao dishwashing detergent
At the front - Kao Super concentrated dishwashing detergent

And then one day when I was reading some beauty blogs as usual, I found that you can actually clean the brushes with dishwashing detergent. This idea was totally intriguing to me, dishwashing detergent for cleaning makeup brushes, really? Would you use dishwashing detergent to wash your hair? But then it does everything I need - removes grease and disinfects, why not? Still being a little skeptical, I used it on some less expensive brushes and it worked wonder. Makeup comes off completely, and bristles were not any drier or rougher than using a sponge cleaner. 

I have been using this Kao detergent for a while now - I did not buy this for cleaning makeup brushes, it is actually the one I use for dishes. It has superb cleaning power and is the least drying detergent I've ever tried (I don't wear gloves, I should though). And most importantly, it smells like haven - this one is grapefruit flavor and it does smell like a real grapefruit. It makes doing dishes more enjoyable... ok maybe not...

Cleaning makeup brushes with Dawn Antibacterial Hand Soap
Dawn Antibacterial Hand Soap

The other day when I was shopping for grocery I found these familiar names on the shelf, it was the detergent suggested by many when I first read it can be used for cleaning makeup brushes. It was on sale, like 2 for $4 or something, I bought 2 without any hesitation. As the name suggested, I thought it would be very mild and won't dry up hands. After using it several times for dishes, makeup brushes and handwashing, it cleans well but dries my hands a little bit as well. 

Many people suggest using a baby shampoo for the job. I was tempted to try but then when I think again, it seems to be too mild and it lacks disinfecting power which is hugh issue to me.

Step 2 - Rinse thoroughly 
After no color coming off from the bristles, and the water runs clean, rinse the brush thoroughly. 

Step 3 - Conditioning (you may skip this for synthetic brushes or skip this altogether)

Conditioning makeup brushes

Natural hair brush, especially those large face brushes do dry over time and sometimes even a bit scratchy when used on face. In order to keep it suppled, I mix a few drops of hair conditioner with water in a glass and let the brushes sit in there for 10-20 minutes.

Conditioning makeup brushes

Be very careful with the amount of water, make it to around 3/4 of the bristle. Don't let it rise to the ferrule - water will loosen the glue that keeps bristle together.

I didn't try this until recently as I found a couple of brushes started to deteriorate in quality, I was too desperate to find a solution to the problem. It does help a lot. The brushes are soft again like I first got them.

Condition makeup brush with Mane & Tail conditioner

Conditioner I used for this purpose is this Mane 'n Tail The Original. It is silicone-free so I don't have to worried about it build up on the bristle whatsoever. According to my favorite brush brand, Hakuhodo, fabric softener (as they suggest using a mild detergent for wool) will make it difficult for the brush to pick up powder. So I guess you shouldn't use something which suppose to make your hair super sleek.

Step 4 - Rinse thoroughly AGAIN
Make sure the brush is free of any detergent and conditioner residue, you don't want it to transfer onto your face.

Step 5 - Air dry
When I am certain that the brush is clean, I squeeze the bristle with a dry kitchen towel to get rid of any excessive water. For the brush to dry in its original shape, I use a brush guard and hang it up like this:
Air dry a makeup brush after cleaning

It is hilarious, isn't it? I prefer this to lay it flat. This allows the brush to dry thoroughly without being pressed on one side. Never let the brush dry bristle side up, water will drip into the ferrule, again it will loosen the glue.

I have 2 kinds of brush guard - one is from Coastal Scent, another is from some random shop.

Coastal Scents Brush Guard
Left - knock off version / Right - Coastal Scents version

I love Coastal Scents brush guards - they keep the brushes in shape and make travelling with brushes so easy. They are not very expensive, you can get at least 5 (depending on the size) brush guards for $4.95. BUT this little roll of mesh thing I got was only $0.3 for 100 meter (around the length of 10 CS brush guards), which is insanely cheap!

Coastal Scents Brush Guard Comparison
Left - Coastal Scents / Right - knock off

They are of different quality though - Coastal Scents ones are thicker, stiffer so brushes can stand bristle down with it. The knock off ones are filmsy and more stretchy like this:

brush guard

Mind you this Illamasqua Kabuki body brush is HUGH but it is still able to squeeze in the teeny tiny mesh.

This is how I take care of my brushes every other week. For daily care, I wipe all excess off with a tissue after use. Foundation brushes, concealer brushes that used for cream or liquid products are more prompt to bacterial, so I wash them everyday. The care instruction written by Hokuhodo is very useful, you may check it out here if you are interested.

I am considering buying a brush cleaner for spot cleaning. The one from MAC is of course favorite of many but I am not a big fan of its alcohol ingredients. Cinema Secrets one is also a likely candidate as it is alcohol free. Have you tried any of these? Which one do you think is better?

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