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.
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!