Tuesday, January 31, 2012
The When, How & Why of Brush Cleaning
Few things are as important as cleaning your brushes regularly. For one thing, it stops them from getting germy - particularly the brushes you use for the eye area or for liquid products. For another, it keeps the bristles in good condition. Not to mention the fact that if you don't clean your brushes, they just won't work properly!
But how often is the right amount of washing? It varies. Many articles I've read seem to recommend a thorough washing once a month. I don't think that's enough. I find that even after a week, my brushes start to become saturated - particularly the ones used for foundation and concealer. I don't have a set washing schedule, but I try to wash my brushes every week or week and a half - two weeks at the absolute outside.Not only does this help me avoid eye irritation, but it makes sure my brushes are working as they're supposed to!
Now that I've told you the when and why of brush cleaning, it's time to get onto the really important stuff - how. Washing your brushes isn't like washing the dishes (and you DEFINITELY don't want to throw them in the dishwasher!). If you want your brushes to last you for years to come, you need to make sure that you're doing it right.
The first step is to pick a cleaning product. Many makeup lines have brush cleaner (I use MAC's) that is specially formulated to sterilize the brushes - which is even more important if you ever do someone else's makeup with them - and to maintain the condition of the bristles. If you don't want to splurge on a fancy brush cleaner, pick up a gentle baby shampoo - this will still clean as needed, but will also make sure that you're not using a harsh product that will make the bristles dry out and crack.
If you're using a liquid brush cleaner you can apply a few drops to a damp brush (use warm water, not piping hot) and swirl them gently in the palm of your hand - taking care not to mash or bend the bristles by pressing directly down. Then rinse and gently squeeze excess water from the bristles without pulling on them.
When drying your brushes, generally it is best to lay them flat on a clean facecloth - ideally with the bristles poking out over the edge of a counter so that air can circulate properly and dry the brushes faster. What you don't want is to dry them by placing them up-ended in a cup or container. This will make water drain down into the brush handles and can damage the glue that holds the bristles in place and, if the handle is wood, even cause it to swell and crack. So make sure to wait until your brushes are thoroughly dried before putting them back into a brush holder!
Follow these rules and you'll be able to make your brushes last for ages - and get the best application out of them!