How to clean your make-up brushes (and why you should!)

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Did you know that you’re supposed to wash your make-up brushes every two weeks? Well here’s my beauty confession to you all – I don’t! I know, I know, I’m a terrible person! Life can easily get in the way and it often seems there are more important things on my to-do list which means I tend to guiltily wash them only when they’re desperate for it and really claggy. But here’s the reason why washing my brushes every two weeks more often is on my beauty resolutions list this year, and should be on yours too! I’ve photographed a step by step guide on doing it right, so there’s no excuse – who’s with me?!

When you apply make-up to your face, be this foundation, blusher, powder, eyeshadow, or anything else – if it’s going on with a brush, then as well as making you super beautiful, those clever tools you’re using are also picking up oil, dirt, dead skin, and nasties – which makes for a rather excellent home for bacteria (yuk!) If you continue to use your brushes without cleaning them, the bacteria will build up and can cause break outs on your skin, clogged pores, and even infections (arghh!)

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Feeling motivated to don your marigolds yet? To get your brushes nice and clean you can invest in some purpose made, professional products – or for a decent DIY alternative, baby shampoo or mild soap is almost just as good too. I’m using Blendercleanser Solid from Beauty Blender here (£12.46, Beautybay.com) which is free of dyes and skin irritants and has a soothing soy-based formula which breaks down rapidly, making it earth-friendly (hurrah!) and is also nice and gentle for my sensitive skin.

Start by rinsing your offending brush under warm water keeping the head facing down at all times to avoid getting copious amount of water running into the base of the brush where the glue sets the bristles. Then get your soap and lather onto your brush, working the formula from “root to tip” being ever so gentle, and always working in the direction of the bristles – like stroking a dog! Those who took art class will be good at this.

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Give your brush a good rinse under the tap and look in horror at all that grub sliding down the plug hole. Now it’s time to soap, lather, rinse, repeat! For brushes with heavy use, like your foundation brush – you can enlist the help of a handy spoon. This is a trick passed down to me by one of my favourite teachers at Art College when I used to paint with oils. Get a spoon and use it facing down to gently encourage more gunk out of your brushes – a bit like a squeegee. Just make sure you’re always pushing it from root to tip, you don’t want to mess up the bristles.

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Once you’ve done your best Kim and Aggie and are confident that the brush water is running clear of make-up and soap, it’s time to dry. Use a soft towel (please not your best ones, just in case!) or some kitchen roll and gentle squeeze and pat the brush dry, always in the direction towards the tip, to get the majority of the water out. Next use your fingers to gently reshape the brush – they tend to dry in the shape they’re left, so tease any stray bristles neatly back into place. Pop your brush to rest on a piece of paper towel and leave it to dry completely. Don’t be tempted to pop your brushes back in a pot with bristle tips facing the sky – the excess water will run back into the brush base and can undo your good work and shorten the life of your brushes!

Don’t use your brushes for make-up again until they are totally – I tend to do mine at night and leave them near (but never on) the bathroom radiator, and by morning they’re good as new and ready for me to paint my face all over again.

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