Lara’s New Year’s Vague Ambitions no.1 – clean ALL the brushes

I almost – almost – feel ashamed for making my first post of 2012 feature this kind of shameful confession: I, Swatchgirl aka Lara, am guilty of never cleaning my make-up brushes.

Shut the front door. This is almost a peak irony post because I’m a make-up artist. My working brushes are perfect specimens of impeccably maintained, sanitised, flawlessly clean make-up tools. I’m anal retentive about them being spotlessly clean, and the entire brush roll has a soothing air of Dettol about it when opened. I am hardcore about my working brushes being beyond clean.

I wish I could say the same about my personal brushes. I can’t even make an excuse for it: I am lazy and terrible and don’t clean them until a) my foundation stippling brushes are forever stained and b) I’ve literally run out of eyeshadow brushes that aren’t loaded up with dark charcoal and black eyeshadow.

Lara’s New Year’s Vague Ambitions #1: in 2012 I vow to treat my personal brushes the same as I do my working make-up brushes.

brush cleaning

Brush Cleaning 101: spot clean, deep clean, disinfect

Spot cleaning: grab a bottle of MAC Brush Cleaner (AU$22, and spot clean your brushes as you use them. A cleanser like this that doesn’t need to be diluted or mixed is perfectomundo for keeping brushes clean on the fly, as it only takes a couple of quick swipes of cleanser to remove liquid and cream foundation, or to remove eyeshadow detritus without amaging the bristles.

Deep cleaning: spot cleaning is useful and an excellent habit, but sometimes you just gotta man up and put aside some time to give your brushes a proper clean. Run a sink of tepid water with a generous splash of gentle clarifying shampoo – I dig Original Detox shampoo (AU$29.95, because it clarifies without stripping or over drying natural hair bristles – or baby shampoo if you have some on hand. Dip the bristles of your brushes into the water, being careful not to get the metal ferrules or handles wet so you don’t damage the glue and cause premature shedding, then gently massage the hairs between your fingers. Rinse and repeat until the water coming from the brushes looks squeaky clean, then lay flat overnight to dry.

Disinfect: it never hurts to add a generous splash of Dettol antiseptic into the water when you’re cleaning your brushes. It’ll kill any bacterial nasties that might be lurking in your brushes and remove the damp, musty smell that some cheaper brushes can develop after cleaning.

Oh, and if you’re using sponges? Chuck ’em out after using them. They’re gross.

There are 10 comments

  1. Chrissy @ Smartpoppy

    I wash my brushes with baby shampoo too, but only on some days… I usually just use a brush cleaner spray and wipe my brushes on tissue afterwards.

    Like you, I’m totally lazy with my personal brushes. But with my work brushes I’m insanely obsessive about it being clean!

  2. Suzanne

    I NEVER THOUGHT OF DETTOLING. And I wash mine with hand soap. They seem to be doing okay though! Dare I ask what brand you use for your pro-brushes?

    1. swatchgirl

      I use exactly the same as above on my working brushes. Gentle clarifying shampoo, Dettol and whatever brush cleanser I have on hand. I also carry isopropyl alcohol in a mister bottle to blast my brushes as I’m working :)

  3. Mystique

    I hear you Tegan…I usually just dump my brushes in a sink full of warm water and shampoo then lay them out to dry.

    and I had no idea about the Dettol.

    Thanks for the tips!

  4. Tegan @ Tegania's Thoughts

    ok this might sound really dumb but I always chuck my brushes in a sink full of water, and wash them using baby shampoo, and then wonder why the glue softens and I have to super glue them back together. Idiot. *slaps forehead*.

  5. oreo

    i love dettol its such a good product for disinfecting gently!! sadly its not sold here in the us my mom brought mine from Nigeria i use it to disinfect my bath water!

  6. Claire

    Oh I love this post! I have been wondering how to clean my new set of brushes that I just bought (once they arrive) and this is so helpful.

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