How I Wash My Brushes - An Overly Detailed Account

Thursday, September 11, 2014
 Hi friends!

Before I talk about brush care today, I thought I'd just have a bit of a heart-to-heart with you guys. My heart hasn't been in blogging recently, for the first time in years I have writer's block (though calling my blogging "writing" is a bit of a stretch as it's mostly me just throwing jumbled up thoughts on products at you, dear reader) and the whole not having great internet thing wasn't conducive to active blogging. Truth is, I've also been pretty preoccupied with fertility.

Morgan and I have been trying for a while now, and I've known pretty much since I was diagnosed with PCOS a few years ago (got a great look at my ovaries, ack) that we wouldn't likely conceive without medical assistance of some sort. Now that we've settled down in our first house, I feel almost an urgency to fill up all these quiet, empty bedrooms (don't worry, polish and makeup still get their own room) so expanding our family has been our top priority.

I'm not giving up on blogging though. In fact, I've been considering a secondary blog that focuses on "life stuff" such as; DIY, home improvement, cooking, etc. This whole not having the interweb thing has given me a ton of time to tackle things I could't in a small one bedroom apartment. I haven't started posting actively but I got my new domain and everything (here).

Wish us luck? We could use it!

Anyways, back to regularly scheduled programming!

I love reading about how other people wash their brushes, I'm not sure why. I mean, it's soap, water, and brushes, right? How many variations in this routine can you get? I do notice that a lot of people mention that they dislike washing them, but I'm in the other camp - I LOVE WASHING BRUSHES. Friends joke that I should come over and do their washing for them and no lie, I totally would. There's something cathartic about getting white brushes back to their clean, bright origins. Plus I watch TV while washing, so it's a great time to catch up on Netflix.

I start out by sorting my brushes into two piles. One pile is the easily cleaned pile and it consists of brushes that I usually use with dry products; powder, blush, eye shadow. The other pile has stuff that I know will take longer to break down on the brush; concealer, liquid foundation, gel eyeliner, etc. I save the "hard to wash" pile for later and start with the "easy" brushes like so:

 I grab a fluffy soft towel (actually these awesome ones are from the Dollar Tree. They are crazy soft, and wash well in the washing machine without linting or pilling up. They are usually in the household cleaning aisle or with automotive stuff) and grab two bowls of water along with a cleanser of some kind and a moisturizer. Since I have no idea where all my stuff is I'm not completely unpacked, I just used an unloved face wash. I have a whole post here where I ruminated on different soaps, usually I use a sulfate free shampoo or artisan soap.

You'll notice that in one of the bowls, I stuck a little scrubbing pad (it actually suctions right to the bowl) into the warm, tepid water (in which I have dissolved a pea sized amount of cleanser) to help clean the bristles. This is the sort of scrubbing pad that comes with L'Oreal 360 cleansers (have a whole post here about that). The best part about this set up is that I don't have to touch the wet bristles so you'll never hear me complain about prune-y fingers after laboring to wash all those brushes.

 So I just wet the brush in the very mild soap-y solution and use swirl gently on the surface of the pad to clean. After all the color is worked out from the brush, I bring it over to the rinse bowl.

This rinse bowl contains cool water with a drop of facial moisturizer or half a drop of conditioner added in (and dissolved). This REALLY helps brushes from becoming frizzy or white goat bristles from drying out and becoming rough feeling. Since it's such a tiny amount of conditioning agents, it doesn't really effect how natural bristles pick up pigment. If you have mainly synthetic bristled brushes though, I think you're fine skipping the moisturizer. I try my hardest not to get all of the ferrule wet, particularly where the handle attaches.

I switch out the water whenever one gets dirty (usually during commercial breaks, huzzah).

Then I dab against the fluffy towel and shape the bristles, using brush guards if needed, leaving it to dry in my Benjabelle Trees (review here).  With larger brushes such as face powder brushes, I usually go outside and flick them really hard to remove the bulk of water.

In this pic, the left two brush guards are the brand name ones sold for around $5 per pack, the actual Brush Guards. The ones on the right are from eBay, I want to say they cost like $1.20 for a pack of 15. I much prefer the ones from eBay because they are softer and more flexible, which allows your brush to dry while maintaining the desired shape. The brand name Brush Guards, on the other hand, are so stiff that they really compact all the bristles so the inside hairs of large brushes take days to dry.

The "hard to wash" pile is washed directly at the sink, I apply a few drops of Dr. Bronner's directly to the wet bristles and lather them up using a spa glove (post here). Again, no touching! I fully expect my foundation/other creme type product brushes to not last as long as my other brushes with which I handle more delicately because I know I'm harder on them to get all the remnants out.

I don't know if I subscribe to the "brushes will last you a lifetime" notion anymore, I guess. I think ultimately that washing them with mild products and treating them with care will extend their life but I don't think even my nicest Hakuhodo brushes will hold up after decades of use, especially if those are reached for daily. I used to be a lot more aggressive with brush washing but also had more brush casualties, I don't think a single brush head has come off since I switched to this more delicate method. Plus I'm all caught up on Scandal now, so that's a plus.

How do you wash your brushes?

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