The How + Why of Brush Care
Image Credit - @joannakosinska
Did you know that caring for your makeup tools and brushes is just as important as caring for your products? We put so much time and thought into choosing the best natural products for our skin, but there’s a lesser known workhorse of our makeup kit that’s begging for love: brushes. According to industry experts we should be attending to the maintenance of our makeup tools with the same vigor as our products, and even include a regular brush cleaning session as part of our beauty regimen.
Naturally you might have some questions. Like, how often should we be cleaning our brushes... once a month? Once a year? But more importantly, what happens over time when we don’t clean our brushes? If we think about it, each time you apply a product with a brush, we transfer product to the brush and to our skin, and from skin back to the product, along with oil, dirt and make-up residue. It’s unavoidable and normal, nothing to get freaked out about, but because the brushes are the vehicle between product and skin, it’s important to keep them as hygienic as possible. This is the same reasoning behind why it’s also good practice to replace our actual products after a finite period of time. To answer those frequently asked questions about the when and how of brush cleaning, we’ve put together this helpful guide:
How often should I clean my brushes? This is the part we weren’t prepared for. Wait for it: every week. This is the industry recommendation, from beauty editors and makeup artists alike. Cleaning brushes every week is the best way to care for them, ensuring that they remain hygienic and enjoy a long life span, which is good for both bank account and the planet.
Do I have to use a special product to clean them? No. There are specialised brush cleansing products on the market but in most cases a mild shampoo does the job perfectly, after all they’re designed to strip oils and dirt, which is ideal for brush bristles too.
How often should I replace my brushes and makeup applicators? For brushes, providing they are cleaned thoroughly and regularly and are not showing signs of wear, including odour or including shedding off bristles, there’s no hard and fast rule here. While some industry experts recommend replacing brushes yearly, others pride themselves on having preserved their original brushes from 1995. It comes down to individual preference. Sponges and beauty blenders however, should always be replaced every three months; the porous surface naturally invites leftover sediment and provides the perfect environment for bacteria to grow.
A step-by-step guide to brush cleaning
1 | There are a couple of options for cleaning brushes. You can use either shallow glass of water or a running tap. NOTE: we want to avoid having water run past the brush bristles and into the base (the handle), as it breaks down the glue and can lead to the brush prematurely shedding bristles. If using a glass with water, fill to a level below the end of the bristles. If using the tap method it’s paramount to keep the bristle end pointed down.
2 | Apply a modest dollop of shampoo to the water or directly to the bristles. Gently swish the brush around in the glass to dislodge product from the brush. For the tap method massage shampoo through the bristles in a downwards motion, rinse off every now and again under the tap. Repeat until the water is clear in the glass or until no more makeup residue comes off the brush.
3 | Gently press out the excess water with your fingers.
4 | Grab a paper towel or clean cloth and lay brushes flat to dry. Top tip: the best way to store makeup brushes is horizontally.
5 | To clean makeup sponges and blenders, use the same process of a gentle shampoo and rinse. It is especially important to squeeze out excess water from sponges and allow them to dry properly as the porous surface can invite a haven of bacteria.