Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Makeup Brush Maintenance

Back in December, a reader, kuri, asked that I write a post on how I take care of my natural hair makeup brushes from Chikuhodo, Hakuhodo, and Koyudo. So here it is, my brush washing and maintenance arsenal consisting of 3 things: a bowl, a bar of Marseille soap, and microfiber cloths. Not pictured is a couple of broken mugs I use to stand the brushes in to dry, because they're just too pitiful LOL!

This post describes how I take care of my natural hair makeup brushes for personal use on myself, not for professional use on others. 


1. Frequency
- Full or mixed squirrel hair: once a year. It's actually recommended that full or mixed squirrel hair brushes are not to be washed often, because squirrel hair is that fragile! 
- Full or mixed goat hair: up to twice a year. 
- Other natural hair: up to twice a year.

So far, I've washed all my brushes just once, and they're due for another washing comes this summer.

2. Washing tools
- A bowl: any will work!
- A cup/mug: to stand the brushes in to dry. If you have a broken cup/mug you're too sentimental to throw away, this is the perfect use for them ^.^
- Marseille soap: as per Sweet Makeup Temptation's recommendation, I use Marseille soap and would recommend the same for you. Mine is a 72% olive oil pure vegetable soap from the brand Pre de Provence. Frankly, the brand's website is completely useless and has no useful information whatsoever! I bought my soap from Amazon, and according to the Amazon product page, this soap is enriched with shea butter and free of parabens, ethyl alcohol, phenoxyethanol (preservative), and DEA (surfactant/foaming agent), and was not tested on animals. 
***All stock photos from Amazon USA.

The Pre de Provence soap is actually available in many different fragrances, but I do not recommend using a scented soap to wash natural hair brushes. The fragranced soaps are scented with essential oils, and some of these essential oils can be harsh on the hair, especially the squirrel hairs. So I recommend sticking with the olive oil bar, which supposedly has no "added" fragrance. I say "supposedly" because there's not an actual ingredients list anywhere, either on the Amazon product page or on the brand's website. That said, my bar of soap smells genuinely like, well, olive oil. In fact, many people noted in the Q&A section as well as in their reviews that they hated the olive oil smell - because it really smells like olive oil and not some fake peaches-and-roses olive oil. 

I was really tempted to get a big 400g cube of 72% olive oil Marseille soap from the brand Marius Fabre - this brand has been around for a long time! But the thought of storing it stopped me cold ^.^ I mean, I haven't seen a square soap box with lid that's big enough for a soap cube of this size. I already had to cut my current 250g Pre de Provence bar in half, because that's all a conventional soap dish could store comfortably (see photo above)!

I also bought The Masters Artist Survival Mini Clean-up Kit, but the Pre de Provence soap has been working so well I never even bothered with this kit ^.^'

3. How to wash
- Fill bowl with lukewarm water.
- Dip brush in water just a little past the ferrule, whirl to wet brush thoroughly.
- Shake off excess water, gently brush brush against soap bar to pick up some soap.
- Gently whirl brush in palm to lather.
- Gently squeeze lather from bristles.
- Whirl brush into water bowl to rinse.
- Gently squeeze soapy water from bristles then set aside on a towel.
- Repeat with second brush in the same bowl of water. 
- Change water for every 2-3 big powder brushes, every 4-6 medium brushes (smaller cheek or highlighting brushes, etc.), or up to every 10 small brushes (eyeshadow, liner, pencil, lip brushes, etc.).
- Rinse each brush at least 4 times, or until the water squeeze from brush runs clear, has not the slightest bit of foam, and isn't slippery to the touch.
- Remember to change the rinsing water also!!!

4. Drying
- Shake water from brush.
- Shape brush head like a flower bud.
- Stand brushes in cup/mug, and make sure brush heads are not touching or mushing against each other. Depends on how many brushes you have, you may need several cups/mugs. I don't like covering the wet brush heads to shape, because I'm deathly fearful of mold. Ick.
- Do not dry brushes in direct sunlight!
- Do not use a hair dryer on wet brushes!
- Do not store brushes near spots with wild temperature fluctuations (hot or cold) or sources of humidity.


By now you must be wondering how I keep my brushes clean after each use, especially since I've only washed them once thus far. Well, I'll let you in on a little secret (that you've already seen at the very beginning of this post): the microfiber cloth.

As you know, one of many uses for the microfiber cloths is to clean and polish crystal wine glasses. In the same sense, gently wiping your brushes onto a microfiber cloth after each use will keep them clean until the next annual wash. The microfiber will grip onto the cosmetic particles and strip them right off of the hair, all without causing any damage to the hair itself. Sure, some of my brushes still stain a little bit, especially those I use with pigmented shadows or cream cheek colors, but otherwise they're in sparkling condition despite haven't been washed since, well, last summer!

1. Pros:
- Any microfiber cloth will work ^.^
- They're readily available and super affordable. Mine came in a 24-pack for $11. Enough said.
- Much more gentle to the natural hair than the softest facial tissue paper out there. Remember, the microfiber cloth polishes crystal wine glasses, which are prone to stains and scratches.
- Much less wasteful than facial tissue paper.
- Much more efficient. I fold my microfiber cloth in half and use one cloth for 4 sittings. Then I throw it into wash with the rest of my laundry.

2. Cons:
- If you can think of any, let me know :P

3. Notes:
- Do not machine-dry these microfiber cloths. The heat will destroy the microfiber. I hang-dry mine and they take about an hour or so to dry, really!
- Do not use fabric softener on these microfiber cloths. The wax in the fabric softener will stay on the microfiber for a long time. Trust me, you do not want any wax on your precious natural hair makeup brushes!
- Before washing the microfiber cloth, check for dark stains first. I've found that stains from bb creams can be super stubborn and won't wash off. So I recommend removing these stains first before washing. I just put one pump of cleansing oil directly onto the stains on the dry microfiber cloth, and rub the spots until the stains are gone, then I throw the cloth in with the laundry.
- And so I definitely wouldn't waste expensive cleansing oils for the purpose of stain removal on microfiber cloths, because any cheap drugstore stuff will do. If you have a cleansing oil you hate or one that doesn't work with your skin, all the better! Don't throw it out. Save it to remove the stains on your microfiber cloths instead ^.^

When I have time, I'll write a post on my makeup organization and storage, including the brushes.


Citrine said...

Wow, only once or twice a year? Now I know how I ruined my stila brushes.... Now I am scared to even dabbling into those Japanese brands of brushe( my synthetic eyes brushes aren't cutting it) least it's nice to know if I decide to get any.....

D. said...

Hey Citrine,

How's Jersey treating ya? ^.^

Yes, this is one of the biggest relief for me, to know that I only need to wash these brushes one or twice a year, because I'm lazy like that -.-"

So don't be afraid to invest in a few Japanese natural hair brushes. You don't regret it, I promise!


Citrine said...

Life in jersey has been good(peaceful, quiet...a wee bit boring) at least I have the option to visit Manhattan once a while(technically I can visit everyday since it's just a few miles away but that will make a big hole in my wallet)for recharging (I suppose it's one of the best places to be for classical music lovers)...anyway, I love love the cool dry weather here. It just got above freezing today and I am already sweating?!

I think I will get just a few eye brushes and a lip brush first but I want to go to an actual store to play with them first. I bet they have one in nyc.

D. said...

Nice! When I was in Jersey I was further away and it took a 1hr train ride to get to Manhattan, although admittedly way way better than driving through the tunnel.

To the best of my knowledge, Hakuhodo's only showroom is in Torrence, CA, and Chikuhodo and Koyudo do not have boutiques in the US. But they do make appearances at trade shows!!! I wish I could attend one of those, although it's perhaps a good thing I couldn't. Too dangerous!!! LOL


kuri said...

Thanks for this! I like your method of lathering and rinsing! I'll have to try this. I actually just bought some per de Provence soap, but it's the scented kind.

By the way, I find shampoo is great for getting makeup stains out of cloth.

D. said...

Hi kuri!

You're so welcome ^.^

I'm super tempted to get the Milk scented bar too, because I love milk scented anything. But then I already have tons of soap bars for the shower. And plus this olive bar will probably last me forever!

Will definitely try shampooing the dark stains from the microfiber cloth next time!


kuri said...

Heh, I know what you mean. I love almond anything so I want to get that next, but I have 5 bars of soap waiting in the cabinet.

Anonymous said...

Anon again!

I guess I need to thank Kuri because I was desperately searching for how to take care of the new babies that will be joining my small (synthetic) brush collection.

I tend to wash my brush every other use and I know that's not the case for the naturals.

I have a question though... When I get my gray squirrel haired brushes, should I immediately wash and then wait the next year to wash again?

D. said...

Hi Anon ^.^

Yes, definitely wash ALL brushes before use! For the squirrel hair brushes, make a mental note of when you wash them, perhaps put it into your smart phone's calendar to remind you of the next wash LOL

I use my blog as a "timeline" for my brush acquisition, because I post them by the batch and by order of purchase haha

Are you excited about your new babies? I am xD


Karen said...

Hi, I love your blog. Do you mean that you put your brushes in a mug with the hair end pointing up? If you do, this will make the water run down into the ferrule, cause it to rust, and loosen any glue that was used. For like $15, I got something called a brush tree. There are tons of different brands and they all look and work pretty much the same. They have holes you push the brush in and it gets held vertically, head down, by grippy silicon that won't scratch the handles. And when my brushes are dry, it folds up flat for storage.

Thank you for the awesome blog!

D. said...

Hi Karen,

Thanks so much for the comment and suggestion.

The brush tree is a great idea! For huge powder brushes that I can't shake out too well I lay flat on a plate overnight first, then I stand it up the next morning when most of the water has already dried. But the brush tree will solve this problem for me, thank you!!! ^.^


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