Buying proper makeup brushes is almost like a rite of passage. It’s a little like purchasing curtains for your very first apartment; sure, you could forego them all together, but there’s something so sophisticated about picking them out. A good brush doesn’t just get makeup onto your face–the cheap sponge applicator or teeny tiny brush that comes with the cosmetics you purchase can do that job just fine–but good brushes last longer, are better for your skin, and allow you to better blend, brush, and achieve the look you want as new makeup trends come into style. Consider it the very first thing you need to know in Beauty 101–buy awesome brushes.
But of course, unlike the brushes that come with your makeup, great brushes aren’t disposable. You spent the money, so it’s worth it to keep your brushes nice by cleaning them regularly (about once a month). The only problem is that a lot of commercial cleaners are either too expensive or actually end up damaging your brushes. So what can you do? Well make your own, of course! It’s pretty simple to make homemade brush cleaner to keep your investment taken care of.
Having a Brush For Every Makeup Job
Certain brushes do certain things. Just as an artist has different brushes for different application techniques, the same is true of makeup artists–and yes, that includes you! A lot of people will tell you that you need natural hair brushes for every type of makeup application, but that isn’t true. In fact, some synthetic brushes do certain jobs just as well or better.
Synthetic bristles are actually stiffer and retain a shape better, so they are ideal for precision-type jobs like applying lip color or liquid eye liner, so don’t shy away from all synthetic-fibered brushes! A great rule of thumb to keep in mind is that natural hair brushes are great for dry and powdered cosmetics like cake or loose eyes shadow or blusher, while synthetic brushes are wonderful for liquid or crème cosmetics like concealer and lipstick.
Additionally, you have to take brush shape into consideration. When you walk into a cosmetics store, you are very likely to find a huge selection of various brushes. It can definitely be a little overwhelming! So what qualifies as the bare necesseties? Here’s a list of the basic brushes you need to have:
Natural Fiber Brushes:
Kabuki-The kabuki brush is one of the larger brushes that you’ll need. It has densely packed fibers, and is wonderful for the all over application of base powders, blusher, bronzer, and dry foundation.
Eye shadow– An eye shadow brush will usually be a small, brush with flat, soft bristles for all over, even application.
Blender/Smudger– A blender or smudger brush usually has two ends, one with a small domes set of bristles, and another end with a conical or dome-like sponge smudger, which is technically synthetic but it is good to have one that does both jobs.
Fan Brush– A fan brush is has sparser, less dense bristles and is flat with a, you guessed it, fan shape. You can use it for loose powder or for brushing off a stray eyelash here or there. A definite must for high fashion makeup design and application.
Synthetic Fiber Brushes:
Lip brush– Never, ever swipe lipstick on straight from the tube unless you’re in a hurry. This small, flat, arched brush will get the precision and subtly done right, the first time.
Angled Brush– Angled brushes come in many sizes, and are most often used for applying linework like eyeliner. You can also use an angled brush to powder your lashes.
Concealer Brush-You can have a concealer brush in natural fiber, but because so few concealers come in anything other than liquid or crème, your brush will last longer if it is synthetic. this brush is mostly domes with a slight taper.
Foundation Brush-Your second biggest brush after the kabuki, your foundation brush should also be domed. Great for applying liquid foundation all over.
Cleaning Natural Hair Brushes
Now to the good stuff: you want to know how to make homemade makeup brush cleaner, right? well, it is easy-peasy, we’re glad to say, super inexpensive, and you probably already have what you need at home.
What you will use for natural hair brushes is a little bit different than your homemade makeup brush cleaner for synthetics because, well, you’re essentially cleaning hair as opposed to plastic. We’ll bet you’ll probably recognize some of the ingredients here!
Here’s what you will need to clean natural hair brushes:
- 1/2 cup distilled water
- 1/8 cup isopropyl alcohol
- 1 tsp Castille soap
- 1/2 tsp shampoo
- 1/2 tsp leave-in conditioner
- A small spray bottle
Mix all of the ingredients and throw them into your spray bottle, and you’ve got instant brush cleaner. Now, on a side note, some people don’t love using alcohol on very expensive makeup brushes, so you should feel free to either sub it out for vinegar or skip it if you have the same concern, but it is used as a germicide to kill any bacteria that can cause breakouts.
You can either clean your brushes with a deep clean by saturating a (clean!) sponge with your spray, which you should do at least once a month, or use the cleaner as a maintenance step by spritzing your brushes once a week.
Cleaning Synthetic Hair Brushes
You can be a little rougher with your synthetic hair brushes, because they are a little more durable, but you also need to clean them more often because you are typically going to be using them with wet cosmetics. If you fully saturate your foundation brush, you should consider cleaning it everyday, because it can be a perfect place for bacteria to grow, and you could end up damaging your brush.
Finding the perfect foundation to match your skin tone doesn’t have to be frustrating, but replacing your brush over and over again definitely is, so wash early, wash often.
You’ll recognize the following ingredients from the first homemade brush cleaner recipe, because they’re nearly identical–told you it was easy-peasy!
- olive or coconut oil
- 1/2 cup distilled water
- 1/4 cup alcohol
- 1 tbsp Castille soap
- 2 small bowls
In the first bowl, pour out a good amount of oil. The oil works as a surfactant to get all of the heavy buildup off of the brushes. Make sure you swish all of your brushes around in the oil, replenishing if it gets funky!
In the second bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients, and let the brushes sit for one or two minutes. Swish and rinse, replenishing if necessary until the solution is clear. That’s it!
Drying Your Brushes
When you dry all of your brushes, there’s a right way and a wrong way. Propping them all upright in a pretty jar looks nice, but it will cause the water to run down into the glue that secures the crimp to the handle and bristles. You’ll end up with wobbly or broken brushes! You don’t want to lay them flat either, because that can permanently change the shape, especially in regards to natural hair brushes. Instead, lay a towel on the edge of a counter and position your brushes on it so that the bristles are hanging off of the counter. This will keep your kabuki brush kabuki’d!
Now you know how to make some homemade makeup brush cleaner that won’t fool around with your brushes, skin, or your wallet. Hooray you!If you’re feeling motivated to do a little more crunchy DIY, try learning how to create and maintain an all natural skincare regimen. Or, now that you’re well on your way to being a makeup genius, why not explore the professional options available for makeup artists? Whatever you do, make sure you’re cleaning those brushes!