Battle of the Brush Cleaner: Blue Dawn vs. Dr. Bronner’s

If you’re anything like me and struggle to keep your makeup brushes clean, (read: lazy) this post might be useful to you. I’ve been really slacking on cleaning them lately, which is gross for several reasons.

1. Brushes are a breeding ground for bacteria, and you’re using them to smear old bacteria all over your face every day. (You’re welcome for the mental picture)

2. They don’t perform as well when there’s weeks – and I know some of you are really grody and have months – worth of foundation, blush, concealer and powder all caked up inside the bristles.

3. Brushes are expensive, and if you take really bad care of them, they will become sad, unusable, bacteria sticks and you’ll have to throw them away. And wasting money is gross.

Of the brushes I own, my least favorite to clean are the ones that get the most use – flat top kabuki brushes. I use them to apply both powder and liquid products every day.  Pictured below are my three flat buki brushes: e.l.f. Studio Powder Brush // $3 at e.l.f. | Lamora Flat Kabuki T01 // price flexible, currently $7.90 at Amazon | Sigma F80 // $24 at Sigma

 

The Lamora & Sigma brushes are especially dirty, and here’s a nice close-up of my Sigma F80 to really drive home the point that brushes get 50 shades of grotesque after a week or two of regular use:


I typically use Dawn dish soap to clean my brushes because it’s super effective at breaking down the oiliness and waxiness of the gunk in my brushes, but recently I ran out of it and started using Suave shampoo because I had it laying around. The Suave worked well enough on other brushes that didn’t develop a lot of buildup, such as my blush and bronzer brushes, but it didn’t work as well for my foundation brushes. I’ve heard that many people use olive and coconut oil to break down the buildup in their brushes and more gently cleanse, but both cause my acne to flare up, so I avoid using them near my face. I should note that I have been using Dawn to clean my brushes for two years and have never had any issues with shedding or damage as a result of using it.

I paid a little visit to my beloved Target to pick up some Dawn, and happened to see some of Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Hemp Peppermint Pure Castile Soap (wow, that is quite the name). I’ve actually used the soap before, many years ago, and have heard many bloggers recommend it for brush cleaning. I found a smaller bottle of it in the travel section for $3 and decided to compare it to my trusty Dawn.

I clean my brushes by squirting about a teaspoon of soap into my palm and swirling the brush – dry- into the soap in my palm. I then turn on the faucet and continue to swirl the brush in my palm as the water suds the soap, continually rinsing my palm and the brush until all of the soap and makeup are rinsed.

My Lamora brush was the clear winner of griminess, and I was able to get all of the gunk out with one go with the Dawn original blue dish soap. I used the Dr. Bronner’s soap on my Sigma brush, and while it did remove a considerable amount of makeup, there was still quite a bit left. I repeated the process twice with the Dr. Bronner’s soap, and ended up giving it a third wash with Dawn before the bristles looked white again (both of the pictured brushes have pre-existing staining). In the following photo, the top row shows my Sigma F80 after two rinses with Dr. Bronner’s and my Lamora buki after one rinse with Dawn. The bottom row shows both brushes after being fully cleaned, the Sigma F80 with 2 rinses of Dr. Bronner’s and 1 with Dawn, and the Lamora with 1 rinse of Dawn.


The Verdict:

Dawn is a better brush cleanser. That being said, I used the Dr. Bronner’s on my e.l.f. brush, and was able to clean it completely with one wash. It had about 3 days’ worth of makeup built up in it. I think the Dr. Bronner’s is a great multi-purpose product, and can definitely be effective as a brush cleanser if used regularly. For tough jobs, I would skip it. It does smell great, though, and is an option for those of you who want to stick to more natural products: it’s fair trade and made with organic oils, has no artificial preservatives, detergents, or foaming agents, and can be used for – you guessed it – 18 different things!

Dawn, which can be purchased nearly anywhere – grocery stores, Target, Walmart, even Kwik Trip! – is relatively cheap. I picked up a 9oz bottle of Dawn Ultra original blue at Target for $1.02. Dr. Bronner’s is significantly more expensive (for obvious reasons), running $17 at Target for 32oz. Dr. Bronner’s magic soaps can also be purchased at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, if those retailers float your boat more than Target.

What do YOU use to wash your brushes, and how often do you clean them? Let me know in the comments!

Fall Look + Full Acne Coverage

  It is finally starting to feel like fall outside, and I couldn’t be happier! I’ve officially packed away my short and sandals and brought out my tights, boots, and jewel colored tops and dresses. This is my favorite time of year for three reasons: weather, holidays, and fashion. Mid to low 50s, a crisp breeze, and swirling leaves + family and friends gathered together for a meal to share their thankfulness and culinary skills + sweaters and boots = everything I love about fall!

One thing I don’t love is having acne. I’ve struggled with it since I was around 12 years old, and I’m now 22. I saw a dermatologist for almost 6 years and have taken more antibiotics than I can count on two hands. Creams, lotions, cleansers galore and not one thing made it go away! My derm had always suggested two possible solutions: hormonal birth control and Accutane. My parents and I were not keen on the risks and side effects of Accutane, some of which I was more at risk for than others, so I never tried it. I have been using hormonal birth control for 5 years now and have seen such an amazing difference in the condition of my skin – which is saying something, considering I obviously still have acne in the photos above. For the most part, my birth control helps to keep the cystic acne along my jawline at bay, but I still get inflammatory acne mostly everywhere except for my forehead. I am strict about skincare routine and never, ever, ever go to sleep without taking my makeup off and cleansing my skin. I used to use many more products to cover up my acne than I do now, but I find that the two products I use for coverage provide exactly what I need without a heavy layer.

The very first thing I do is cleanse, moisturize, and prime my skin.

  1. LUSH Herbalism // $15-ish
  2. Clinique Dramatically Different Gel // $26
  3. Arbonne Makeup Primer // $40

Once I’ve prepped my skin, I move on to concealer and foundation.

  1. It Cosmetics Bye Bye Undereye Concealer // $24 / in the shade Light
  2. It Cosmetics Celebration Foundation Illumination // $35 / in the shade Light

I apply the concealer with my fingers (after I’ve washed my hands, of course!) because I find that I get the best coverage while using the least amount of product. I have applied this product with both a sponge and brush before and still prefer my trusty old phalanges. It’s extremely pigmented, so I use a pinhead-sized drop under each of my eyes in a triangle shape – #KimKwannabe – and then continue to use other teensy pinhead drops on my blemishes and redness on the rest of my face. It’s a thick, creamy, consistency and blends flawlessly into my skin’s natural texture. I have quite a few (who am I kidding, I have a lot) of freckles, so I use the concealer extremely sparingly on my forehead to let them show through.

Once my concealer is nicely blended, I move on to foundation. The It Cosmetics Celebration Foundation Illumination, as contrasted to the original Celebration Foundation, which comes in a black compact and is matte, is an illuminating pressed powder foundation. The concealer is matte, and I like that the foundation has illuminating qualities to give off a lit-from-within glow. I buff the foundation into my skin with a Sigma F80 brush in circular motions. It offers medium-buildable coverage, and despite the fact that I have extremely oily skin, I do not experience any shininess for several hours, and no separation all day. It’s a great foundation for all skin types that I think works very well in conjunction with the concealer. In the following four photos, the one in the top left shows how my skin looks with the foundation + concealer combo.
Those two products conclude the acne coverage portion of this blog, and I highly encourage you to give them a try! They are quite pricey, but I anticipate the concealer lasting me at least a year, and I’ve used the foundation daily for two months and have yet to notice any obvious usage in the pan.

For alternatives, I recommend

  1. Dermablend Cover Creme // $38 / this product is very expensive, and I don’t think it offers as good of coverage as the Bye Bye Undereye. If you have the time to really work with this product (which I think is best applied with sponge or fingers) it might be worth it, but I think there are better alternatives. It is a cream texture in a pot, rather than a tube, which I also do not like for sanitary reasons. Everyone has different preferences, so it may work for you! 
  2. Hard Candy Glamoflauge Concealer // $6 / the consistency is similar to that of the Bye Bye Undereye and gives full coverage, but it appears more oily and the shades can edge into Oompa Loompa territory. I will not repurchase this, but it is a great product if your budget only allows you to stick with drugstore products.
  3. Aveda Inner Light Dual Foundation // $25 / very similar in coverage + concept to the Celebration Foundation, but does not come in a compact. You must purchase the compact separately, which I consider a huge disadvantage and just plain annoying, so I don’t use this anymore in protest. The product itself is wonderful though, and if the compact isn’t important to you, you can keep it in the plastic packaging and use it that way.

To complete the rest of the look, I used Tarte Park Ave Princess bronzer, Clinique blush in New Clover, Anastasia Beverly Hills DipBrow pomade in Blonde, Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Liner, Urban Decay Perversion mascara, Too Faced Chocolate Bar palette, and Lancome L’Absolu Rouge lipstick in Creme de Marron.

IMG_0908What are your favorite fall looks? Share with me in the comments below!

Weekend Look: Smoky Eyes

If you follow me on my personal Instagram, you probably saw this post last weekend. It was my sister’s 24th birthday on Sunday, so we celebrated Saturday night and went apple picking on Sunday morning before the Packer game. It was a ton of fun! My everyday eye look is pretty neutral – I tend to get the most use out of my Chocolate Bar and Naked 2 palettes, and I barely even have brush marks in most of the darker shades. I have hooded eyes, so when my eyes are open, you can’t see much of my eyelid. I’ve always thought that smoky eye looks made my eyes look smaller, so it’s rare that I smoke out a deep brown or charcoal shadow on my eyes. Also, smoky eyes toe the line between sultry and bar-fight, making them even harder to pull off.

For some reason, I was feeling ambitious and came up with this look! It was pretty simple and can easily be substituted with other shadows of similar shades. If you’re interested in knowing the details of the look, continue reading below!

Brows:

ABH Dipbrow Pomade in Blonde, $18 at Sephora

Eyes:

Urban Decay Naked 3, $54 at Sephora

Blackheart + Factory on the lid

Blackheart under lower lash line

Darkside in the crease

Too Faced Chocolate Bar, $49 at Sephora

Salted Caramel in the upper crease

Marzipan above Salted Caramel + the inner corner

Black Forest Truffle on the outer corner

Stila Stay All Day waterproof liquid liner, $22 at Sephora

Yves Saint Laurent Volume Effet Faux Cils mascara, $32 at Sephora

Face:

IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Undereye Concealer in Light, $24 at Ulta

IT Cosmetics Celebration Illumination Foundation in Medium, $35 at Ulta

Benefit Hoola, $28 at Sephora

Benefit Dallas, $28 at Sephora

Tarte Amazonian Clay Shimmering Powder in Champagne, available in several palettes & kits, notably Park Ave Princess Countour Palette v2, $34 at Tarte

Lips:

MAC Satin Lipstick in Rebel, $17 at MAC

Hair:

NuMe 19mm Classic Wand, $139 at NuMe

 
What’s your favorite smoky eye palette? Have you tried the new Urban Decay Naked Smoky palette? Let me know in the comments below!

September Favorites

How in the world is it October already?! September is one of my favorite months. The weather starts to cool down and leaves begin to change colors…and fall comes! My favorite season of the year   I may not be into PSLs, but I am into a great fall lip, and those are the forerunners of my September faves:

  1. MAC Rebel – $17 at MAC – This color is just downright gorgeous and deserves all the attention it gets! This is a bold, medium-plum satin finish lipstick. I do find it slightly drying, so I always try to layer some lip balm on top of it, but the staying power is great. This is my go-to fall shade.
  2. Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar in Vintage – $18 at Amazon – I could not find this anywhere online that wasn’t sold out for you guys except for Amazon. This product is pretty difficult to use, so it’s not one that I frequently reach for. That being said, it is a beautiful brick-red + burgundy shade and extremely long-wearing. It’s pretty much impossible to apply this without a lip brush, and it does bleed, so use lipliner accordingly!
  3. NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Copenhagen – $6 at Ulta – This is a cult favorite for a reason. While I personally dislike the formula, Copenhagen is the most killer fall lip shade I own. I feel so powerful and cool when I wear this! My dislikes are that it’s difficult to apply and takes quite a long time to set, making it prone to bleeding and smears. I would reach for this over Rebel if it weren’t so hard to apply!
  4. Essie Nail Lacquer in Material Girl – $8.50 at Essie – Keeping with the theme of burgundy and red, this is a fingertip favorite of mine for fall! It’s semi-sheer for the first coat, and opaque with the second. I get compliments on this polish all the time!
  5. Tarte Park Avenue Princess Contour Kit v2 – $34 at Sephora – I featured this in my last post about products I used for my wedding. I’ve been using the bronzer and highlight almost every day! The bronzer is pretty natural looking, although I’m still undecided on whether I prefer it to Benefit Hoola or not. The highlighter is a gorgeous, pigmented, champagne color, and the blush is a shimmery peach. I don’t think peach is particularly flattering on my skin tone, so I tend to avoid it, although I don’t think this particular blush is unflattering on me. Still, it will never compete with my beloved Benefit Dallas!
  6. IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Undereye concealer – $24 at IT Cosmetics – This concealer is amazing. Like, it’s actually really freaking amazing. First of all, I use it all over my face, not just under my eyes. To use this exclusively under one’s eyes would be to ignore it’s crazy camouflaging capabilities. I would say the consistency is similar to the Hard Candy Glamolauge, but less oily, less orange, and with better coverage/staying power. It’s pretty pricey, but it’ll last you probably forever, and the fact that it comes in a tube instead of a pot is great if you have acne-prone skin. I prefer to apply this with my fingers for maximum coverage, but it can also be buffed on with a buki brush!
  7. Stila Stay All Day waterproof liquid eyeliner – $22 at Sephora – High-end eyeliner is something I never thought I’d spend my money on, but I knew the drugstore stuff I was using wouldn’t hold up to the inevitable outpouring of tears on my wedding day, so I splurged! I love how precise and pigmented this liner is. It’s really easy to get a clean cat eye with, and it held up quite well to tears on my wedding day. I have naturally watery eyes, so on a daily basis, this is awesome. No more smeary eyeliner wings for this girl!
  8. LUSH Herbalism – $13.95-33.95 at Lush – I am obsessed with this cleanser. If you have oily, acne-prone skin and you haven’t found an exfoliating cleanser that doesn’t dry/irritate your skin into oblivion, you need to try this. It is messy. It smells like rice vinegar. It will also leave your skin soft, clean, and not completely stripped of natural oils. I can put up with 15 seconds of vinegar smell and the slight inconvenience of mixing it with water in my palms for the end result of beautiful skin. I got 4oz for around $15 and it’ll easily last me 6 months or longer with daily use, so in the end it isn’t that much more expensive (or more expensive at all)  than the drugstore cleansers I’ve used in the past.

That’s a wrap for September faves! Any suggestions for this lovely month of October? Let me know in the comments!