Full disclosure: I'm inexplicably lazy about cleaning my makeup brushes, which flies in the face of how anal I am about washing my face, brushing my teeth, caring for my skin, and other hygienic pursuits. Cleaning makeup brushes is a serious chore and something I tend to avoid, for a variety of reasons. It's a time suck. The bristles take forever to dry. The brushes sometimes don't feel quite right because of the cleaning agent I used (or, more likely, misused). Establishing a makeup brush cleaning routine has been an epic fail for me and it's a major makeup mistake I confess to making.
I clean them, just not nearly as often as I should. I admit that. Knowing I have a problem is half the battle. Thanks, G.I. Joe!
You name it, I'll look for a reason not to do brush cleaning. I even told myself, "They don't look that dirty," even though that is not a logistically sound argument, since I use them daily and rationality dictates that they will therefore get dirty, thanks to product and the invisible residue on my face from whatever elements I encountered during a day of doing stuff.
Here is what some of my brushes look like and yes, I am feeling anxiety by showing them to you, like my previously worn and unwashed undies are on full display or something. I have several holders filled with brushes of all different shapes and sizes, and some live in my makeup bag, since I use them more often and when I travel.
Yes, that holder features the lovely mug of One Direction's Harry Styles. Don't hate. I'm not ashamed of the Harry holder. But of those foundation-coated brushes? Yeah, I'm sheepish over the fact that they are sort of icky.
Thankfully, Anisa Telwar Kaicker, the president and founder of Anisa International, a private label brush/applicator/accessory manufacturing and design firm, has offered her exclusive tips on how to really clean your makeup brushes. After all, as a brush maker, she would know!
Kaicker points out that protecting your brushes is like protecting your skin, and a regular maintenance routine is essential. If you are suffering from breakouts of blemishes, even with a daily cleaning and moisturizing regimen for your face, your dirty brushes could be the culprit.
"We hear time and time again how important it is to clean our brushes, however many of us still fail to develop a regular cleaning routine," she said. "In fact, according to an Allure.com poll, 45 percent of women surveyed admitted to having never cleaned their makeup brushes."
Wow. That's almost half of the women polled confessing to having non-existent brush cleaning habits. So I am not alone in my laziness.
The skin benefits of adopting a cleaning routine for your brushes are obvious. But did you realize that taking care of the tools extends their life and their effectiveness? You can spend a bazillion bucks on finely milled eye shadows or an innovative foundation, but if you are not applying them with effective and clean tools, the end result won't be what you desire and the product's luxuriousness is a moot point. Brushes ain't cheap, so protect your investment, ladies!
Kaicker also said, "Over time, product and oil builds up on tools and can affect the application and makeup look. For example, the brush fiber, when dirty, can’t pick up the product as effectively and can impact placement."
She realizes that the time suckage is a major factor in brush cleaning procrastination and avoidance, saying, "Many people often put it off because it takes so much time, especially the drying stage. While traditional methods of brush cleaning are still widely used, many brands are now providing new products to support consumers cleaning needs and make the process simpler."
Here's how to get on a brush cleaning routine.
Kaicker's company partnered with Sephora to develop and launch Brush It Off Cleaning Brushes Wipes. The individually wrapped wipes are easy to use and convenient. "To use, simply lay the wipe on a flat surface," she explained. "The type of fiber determines the motion you should use to clean the brush. For natural fibers, sweep back and forth against the wipe. For synthetics, swirl the brush in a circular motion. Once complete, gently pat the brush dry on a towel. Brushes dry in minutes."
2. Traditional Household Products Are Okay, Too
If you're not sold on the wipes, Kaicker also offered traditional tips. "There are several household products you can use to clean brushes that are both efficient and effective," she said. Baby shampoo is soft and deep cleans without drying bristles, which is common.
But did you know olive oil is not just for deep conditioning hair or for cooking? "Olive oil is a must-have for brushes that are heavily embedded with makeup," Kaicker said. "By using a dime-size amount of oil, you can lift the makeup residue right off the brush."
Another alternative is dish soap. "You’ll want to use an antibacterial soap, as it works best to kill off germs and bacteria," she said.
3. Find The Method to Your Madness
Most important, though, is the method of cleaning. Here's the recommended routine: "Gently run the brush under water, massaging the cleaner through the bristles. Swirl your brush on a sponge or similar product to work up a good lather. Then, rinse the brush with lukewarm water and lightly pat dry on a towel to remove excess water. Let dry overnight. While cleaning, remember to not submerge your brushes in water, as doing so can damage the ferrule — the metal piece that holds the brush fiber in place — leading to fiber fall out. "
4. How Often?
Whichever method of cleaning you prefer or adopt, establishing and sticking to a routine is critical. "Make sure to start a weekly or bi-weekly routine," she said. "In doing so, you will extend the lifetime of your brushes and prevent harmful bacteria from forming on the skin." See, it's not that hard. Start doing it every other week for two months and I bet you'll develop a good beauty habit! Who's with me?