Cleaning and Caring for Your Brushes – Protect Your Investment!

cover brushCosmetic brushes are an investment.  If properly cared for, your brushes should last and serve you for at least several years.  I have been using and enjoying some of my brushes for over 16 years.   The key factors are the quality, maintenance and use of the brush.

If you start with a quality brush, a brush with the hairs correctly tied and glued into the ferrule, and you are diligent with it cosmetic brushyour maintenance,  your brushes should last at least a decade.  Perhaps longer.  Some of my favorite brushes are made by Chanel, Sephora, IT Cosmetics and Bobbi Brown.

The choice of  natural hair or synthetic bristle, is yours.  I personally prefer synthetic for both the cruelty free aspect and ease of use.  Dyed bristles are a pet peeve of mine.  I see no brush ferrulereason to dye a bristle, all it does is create a mess when they are washed.   Dying a bristle does not enhance the productivity of it.  Natural hair or synthetic bristles, the care will be the same – wash your brushes at least once a week.  If you use natural hair brushes, you may want to condition the bristles with some argon oil before applying the cleanser.  Conditioning natural bristles prior to cleaning will help to keep the bristles soft.

After using a foundation brush, I set it aside to be washed before it gets used again.  I apply this same principle to my concealer brushes and primer brushes.  Basically any brush that is used on a liquid or cream product gets used once.  I do this because I am worried about bacteria and I do not feel the liquid or cream products apply well when used with a dirty brush.  My powder brushes will get reused during the week with the same product but only with the same product, otherwise the color and texture of what I’m applying will be skewed.  I usually go through 35-40 brushes in 7 days.   I keep the used powder and liquid brushes in a separate container (one half of a brush tube) and then only wash those brushes which were used at the end of the week.

Before you start the washing process, prepare a spot to lay your brushes after they are washed.  I  use a jellyroll pan that is lined with several paper towels.  Using the pan allows me to easily move the washed brushes outside if the sun comes out.

To wash your brushes, start with liquid cleaner and water that is as hot as you can safely tolerate.  I start with Bobbi Brown’s Brush Cleaner.  I like the Bobbi Brown Brush Cleaner for its antibacterial qualities and the way it makes my brushes smell and feel. Any type of liquid cleaner will work.  Shampoo, facial cleaner or brush cleaner.  Put the liquid cleanser in the bottom of a bowl, add the very hot water and swish around to completely dissolve the cleanser.  Fill a separate bowl with clear clean water at a tepid temperature.  Start with your powder brushes.  Swirl the powder brushes quickly through the clean water and then put them into the hot sudsy water.  By wetting the powder brush first, you are helping to keep the brclean brushistles from soaking up too much cleanser.  You want the cleanser to stay on the outside of the bristle, to clean off the pigment and powder, not soak into the bristle.  Using your hands and fingers, work the sudsy water through the brushes.  Squeeze the excess soapy water out of the brushes and quickly plunge them into the clear tepid water in the second bowl.  Swirl through the clear tepid water, working the bristles through your hands and fingers to completely rinse the soap out of the bristles.  It is extremely important to rinse all of the soap out of the brush.  Run the water as needed and as your environment allows.  I’m fortunate to live in an area with abundant well water and can run the water through the brush.  If you don’t have an area with abundant water, fill another bowl with clear water and use that.  You really need to rinse out all of the soap.

I use additional facial cleanser on my foundation, concealer and powder brushes that have been stained with pigment.  I do not like stained brushes.  When a brush gets stained with pigment, usually a powder brush, I add additional facial cleanser to the head of the brush and work that beauty_blenderthrough to get rid of the stain.  I also use additional facial cleanser to my foundation and concealer brushes to get them completely clean.  I do occasionally use a beauty blender for foundation and/or concealer.  I use the solid Beauty Blender Cleanser for cleaning it.  I have tried the solid Beauty Blender Cleanser on my brushes but it does not seem to work as well on the brushes as it does on the Beauty Blender.

After the brush has been thoroughly rinsed, run the brush through your hand, shaping and squeezing out the excess water as you go.  Lay the brush onto the area you have prepared and quickly move to the next brush.  Do not leave the brushes in the water.  Leaving the brush in water will cause the glue in the ferrule to disintegrate.   When drying, it can be helpful to lay the brushesbrush over the side of the counter if you have the space.  This will assist in the shaping of the brush.  If you do not have the space for this, be sure to visit your brushes several times during the drying time and run them through  your hands to help with the shaping.   Do not stand a wet brush up.  It will break-up the glue in the ferrule and will warp the wood handles.  Do not put the brushes into a hot oven.  I do not recommend using a hair dryer because this may misshapen the brush.

When all of the brushes are clean, the waiting period begins.  If you live in a warm, arid climate, your brushes should be dry in several hours.  If you’re in a damp, cold climate, you may have to wait 24 hours or more.  To facilitate the drying of your brushes, you can turn them or replace the paper towels.  I keep several layers of paper towels under my brushes while they are drying and change the layers repeatedly if the weather is cold and damp.   When you are finished with the process and the paper towels have dried – store the paper towels in a large plastic bag for the next use, no need to continually use new paper towels, save them for next week!

You can store your clean dry brushes in any container, jars, vases, tins, it all depends on your style. I use a brush caddy from Sephora.  This makes it easy for me to pack up what I need when   brush caddytraveling for two or three days.  For longer trips I use a brush roll.  If you use two ended brushes, you’re going to need a brush roll for storing your brushes.  I recommend covering the brushes you do not use every week.  Dust and bacteria can get into your brushes which will deteriorate the bristles over time.

I did not intend for this week’s blog to be so long, but I feel brushes are a tool and tools are an investment.  An investment worth having is worth maintaining.

Correct to Conceal

There are many, many different types of concealers.  I’ve tried most of them, from the highest (almost highest) end $70 worth to the basic everyday type.  They come all types of thickness, tubes, bottles, compacts.  Liquid to solid and everything in between.  I’ve tried them.  Here is what I’ve learned.

For reference, my skin color runs between MAC NW20-25, Bobbi Brown Sand-Warm Beige, Chanel Beige.  Basically light-medium, depending on the season.

If you have dark blue/green areas under your eyes or if you have dark spots (hyper-pigmentation) then you need to use a corrector first.  This will help to even out the extreme differences between your natural skin tone and the areas you want to conceal.  A corrector does what the label says – it corrects.  The shades are usually more yellow or peach to counteract the bobbi brown correctorpurple, red or green that you’re correcting.  My favorite corrector is made by Bobbi Brown.  I use the Light-Peach shade.  It has a nice creamy texture and blends well into my skin.

IT Cosmetics also makes a correcting cream, one that is more specific to redness.  I have not personally tried this product, I do not have the problem of redness, my problems are dark circles and hyper-pigmentation (too much California sunshine without proper sunscreen in my younger years.

bye bye redness

When choosing a corrector, be sure you get one that is one or two shades lighter than your skin color and leans towards yellow to correct redness (rosacea) or peach to correct the blue/green patches under the eyes.   I apply the corrector after my primer, before the foundation.

After applying my foundation, I scrutinize any areas that need a bit more help with coverage and then reach for the concealer.  If you apply after the foundation, you will find you use less product.

Concealers come in all sorts of forms and densities.  Your skin type and the amount of concealing will decide what type of concealer you need.  If your skin is dry, I recommend a more liquid or soft cream type of concealer.  My favorite liquid concealers are: NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer,  (Vanilla for me) Chanel Correcteur Perfection (#31 for me) and Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer.  I use the Beige color in the Bobbi Brown Concealer. The Bobbi Brown gives the most coverage but the NARS and Chanel are better for under the eyes, less caking and settling into fine lines.  Same as with the corrector, pick a shade one or two lighter than you foundation.

Bobbi Brown Concealer   nars 2Chanel Correcteur Perfection

If you have oily or combination skin, then reach for a stick or cream concealer. MAC makes a corrector/concealer palette which works with all types of skin but seems to be better if your skin leans towards combo or oily.  This palette comes in light, medium or dark.  If your skin tone works with the colors in one of these palettes, this would be a one-stop shopping solution for you.  MAC Corrector/Concealer  mac correct and conceal

MAC also makes a cream concealer called Studio Finish Concealer.  It seems to me that MAC has more options for the darker skin tones in this concealer.  I understand it is more difficult to find a good match for a darker skin tone, one that does not create an ashy look, so this may work for you.  This is a full coverage concealer with the added benefit of SPF 35.   This is a mac skin finisherhighly pigmented product and a little goes a long way.

Application with any of these correctors and/or concealers should be with a mini beauty blender or a brush.  I like the Sephora Collection Pro Airbrush Concealer Brush #57 for applying any type of corrector or concealer, liquid, stick or cream.  If you’re using a stick, use the brush across the stick first.  If you already have a dense eye shadow brush, that will work too.  MAC 217 would work or any type of brush that has dense bristles without being over large will work for applying the corrector and/or concealer.  I find this type of brush works better than a brush more typically suited for liquids because it blends the product into the skin better.  Save your synthetic flat brushes for applying primer (the large brushes) or creme eye shadow (the small brushes).

What are your favorite correctors and concealers?