Thursday, September 12, 2013

Time To Clean Your Makeup Brushes With Master's Brush Cleaner

Of all of the items in my makeup collection, my brushes are most loved and valuable tools.  My "flings" with the latest eyeshadow palettes, the hottest lip glosses, and the sultriest eyeliners may be fun while they last, but my brushes and I have a solid relationship that has stood the test of time.  Good makeup brushes are the key to making any makeup product look its best when applied, and, if taken care of properly (wash them once a month!), will be your faithful makeup sidekicks for years and years. 

Until recently, I simply washed my brushes with a gentle soap or shampoo (usually my beloved Johnson and Johnson Head-to-Toe Baby Wash, which I keep in the shower to use as a face wash in the mornings).  I would dampen them under hot water, swoosh them around in my palm with just a drop of J&J, rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat....until the water ran clear.  Depending on the type of brush and what type of product I used with it, it could take several of these palm-swooshing/rinsing cycles until the water ran clear and I knew it was clean.  All the while, my poor pickling palm would be turning beet-red. 

Last weekend, though, I made a trip to my local Michael's Art Supply to pick up a couple of things for my classroom and also to search for an item that I have read about on various beauty blogs, The Master's Brush Cleaner.  This solid cake of soap comes in a plastic container and has been a longtime favorite of artists for cleaning oil-based paint, acrylic, stains, and watercolor paint from their paintbrushes. And while the company does not recommend or advertise their product for cleaning makeup brushes, many makeup artists use this $10 little tub of lemon-scented soap for their best and gunkiest makeup brushes.

To clean your brushes, simply dampen the brush under warm water and swirl it gently around on the surface of the soap:

Today I washed 3 of my dirtiest brushes with this soap.  First, my most-used eyeshadow brushes - my MAC 217 blending brush and MAC 239 shading brush, which are both made of beautiful white goat hair.  Here are pics of these two brushes, both before and after cleaning with Master's Brush Cleaner:

Before (left) and after (right) - WOW WOW WOW!!
All it took to get both of these brushes back to their original color is about 6 or 7 SECONDS (!!) of swirling them around on the surface of the soap.  I was doing backflips of brush-cleaning joy when I saw how quickly this wonderful brush cleaner dissolved any and all remants of shadow and stains on these brushes. 

I also washed my gunkiest brush, my Sigma F80 Flat Top Kabuki, which I use every single day for buffing in liquid foundation or CC cream:

Impressive, si??!!  I did have to do two rounds of swooshing and rinsing with this brush, but we are still talking about 10-15 seconds for this brush go to from that funky (left) to that clean (right).  (Brushes that I use for liquid or cream products, by the way, get a good washing every 2 weeks, as bacteria can grow faster on these than on brushes used for powder products.)  As you can see, there is still just a little bit of stain/foundation left in the center of the brush, but I may try using a trick I learned from my friend Sheila at Painted Ladies (olive oil!) and then give it one last swoosh again with this new brush cleaner. 

You can buy Master's Brush cleaner at Micael's, Hobby Lobby, or any art supply store. It comes in a convenient 1 oz size, (what I bought), a 2.5 oz "studio cake," and a 24 oz "classroom tub."  While $10 for a 1 oz bar of soap may seem pricey, you can always find Michael's and Hobby Lobby coupons in the paper and online, and from what I have read these containers last for months. 

One other important brush-cleaning tip - after cleaning, remember to lay each brush flat on a soft, absorbent surface (like a dry washcloth) so that no water or dampness runs back down into the brush's ferrule (This is the part that connects the hairs to the handle, usually with some sort of glue.  Water can loosen the glue and make your brush hairs fall out.  This is also why you should never leave your brushes to soak in water, either.).  My next beauty brush investment, though, is going to be one of these Benjabelle Brush Trees, which allow your brushes to hang hairs-down and suspended in the air.

Get thee to your nearest art supply store this weekend, big girls, and get busy cleaning those brushes!   With Master's Brush Cleaner, makeup brush cleaning is a quick and easy task that will extended the life of your best and most faithful brushes.


  1. An interesting idea and a great post. My brushes aren't usually that dirty (I use Woollite or my Purpose facewash), but I will look for this at Michael's and I'm gonna check AC Moore since I have coupons for that store.

  2. Thank you, Allison! By the way...the J&J Head-to-Toe Baby Wash is the same formula as Purpose face wash. I have used it for years, and it is great!