Home Brushes Brush cleaning and caring

Brush cleaning and caring

by Sonia G.

I have received many messages asking me how I clean my brushes, I decided to write this post to finally answer all your questions. There are many ways and many products out there, I just use a technique that I consider cheap and fast, it must be safe enough too because so far, I had no bad experiences at all.

Sometimes I come across kind and funny comments on other beauty sites about me and my brushes and I read “How is she managing the cleaning of so many brushes ?? Is she hiring someone ?? ” Well, you will see that it’s super easy, I do it once a month because I have enough brushes to not have to do it regularly but other than that, having many brushes or just a few, the number of brush washes done in total at the end of the month should be pretty much the same regardless of how many brushes each of us own.




When I have many many brushes to wash it’s because I am doing some reviews and comparisons so of course, many will end up dirty at the same time but that’s also why I am here.

Before we start, I will very briefly explain how they are assembled, this will help you understand why they shed or why we should use and wash them with care.

The manufacturing

Once the bristles are clean from bacteria and oils, various bristles are blended to stabilize quality and consistency. In the following picture you see how she uses a razor (Kamisori in Japanese) to remove the bad hair from the bunch – then they are bundled into round batches and finally they are put into an individual brush mould (Koma in Japanese) upside down, then placed onto a vibrating plate which is going to settle them tightly down to give them a first shape.

Depending on the companies, their processes will change so that’s why companies don’t always want to share too many details because it’s their own techniques that makes them different.



Next step is to tie the head and create the shape of the head by hand, one of the techniques I saw (demonstration by Chikuhodo’s son himself) is to place the head between the two hands and shape it … with the palms. The center of the head will suddenly come forward and appear more tapered.





The process to place the head into the ferrule is super fast, they had to do it all over again so that I could actually see something… You place the head inside a little plastic that will serve as guide (a bit like a needle), the plastic goes across the ferrule and the head comes out the other way… or something like that…

The last process is to fix the head-ferrule-and-handle, and this was different depending on the companies I visited. I won’t say more because maybe that’s something very personal to the Company and I don’t want to reveal their secrets. Let’s just say that either glue or other heat techniques are used to assemble them.

After all these steps there is also more cleaning and removing of bad hair, some companies add even an additional UV sterilizing process.

Sometimes they also put a coating on the bristles to protect them from transport, this is 100% natural coating liquid (light glue) made with Sea Weed and called Nori in Japanese. For example most of the Koyudo or Chikuhodo small make up brushes do have that coating when you receive them, the head of the brush is very hard and you have to wash it before use, you can see an example with the ones I received today that still have that coating:



The online shop pictures are confusing because they are taken after the glue is placed and when you receive the brush you realize that it’s not as tapered as it was showing in the picture… You’ll be able to identify that after a few times but if you have questions you can ask me and I will be able to tell you if one picture in the shop is showing with the glue on or not.


How much is a brush supposed to shed before I start to loose hair myself ? I asked this question to Hakuhodo USA and they helped me with it.

I have been told that powder brushes can have over 10,000 hairs in them and that most of the great quality brushes do not shed but they do have  “floating hairs” falling out. Floating hairs are hairs that remain in the head after the brush is made, but they did not get pinched in the ferrule. These hairs are usually the length of the brush head. When they are finishing off a brush they try to shake all these hairs out, but some could remain in the head sometimes.
Some other info I received :

[quote] If hairs were actually coming out of the brush, they would be roughly twice the length of the head, because, as you saw in the picture above, there is quite a bit of hair underneath the ferrule. If the hairs are shorter than the length of the head, this is usually a sign of breakage, and the problem is the brush is probably being used to harshly or improperly, and the hairs are being cut. (Cut hairs can also be long if they are being cut at the base of the head.)If someone is having a lot of hairs come out with each use, we recommend washing the brush, and this usually clears up the problem. But in general, 3-4 hairs each use is normal and does not mean a brush is defective. This is why we recommend tapping off the brushes before and after each use, to shake out these hairs. (“Tapping off” is hard to explain in type, but it is shaking the brush against your open palm, up and down, to shake those hairs loose. About twenty fast taps should do it.) Especially with the big powder brushes, 1-2 hairs come out every time. [/quote]

If you notice that too many hairs are falling out and that there is a problem with the brush, don’t hesitate to contact the company, they should be able to give you some more details and help you.

Update 23pm : Just after this post I received some more additional info from Hakuhodo USA regarding the dye so I will just add it here since we thought it would be useful 🙂

Brushes losing dye : This is normal for the first few washes, but sometimes becomes a problem if people wash with soap with harsh ingredients. You see, dyed brushes have a thin coat of protective sealing over the hairs to keep the dye from bleeding out a lot. But if a harsh soap/detergent is used, it can strip the protective sealing off, and then from then on dye will come out of the brush in an amount that would not have happened if the brush was washed with proper detergent. This is another reason why washing with harsh detergents/soaps is a bad thing. 


It’s a bit like a car, if you don’t use it, it will get rusty.. you have to use your brushes because the more you use them the better they can get.  

You should not store them in direct sunlight, keep them in a dry place and if you don’t use them, keep them in their original packaging. I use little humidity packs that come with new handbags for example, I place them together with my brushes inside the drawers.

Every brush has a life span, most of the brushes will have a life span of 3 to 5 years but believe me, I have mine for years and they look like new, there is no sign of ageing at all. Some of the makeup lovers I know have brushes for 10+ years and still going…  If you wash your brushes too often, or not often enough that will also impact. If you take good care of them you will probably enjoy them for many years.



How often shall I clean my brushes ? this is a question that comes over and over again but that depends on many factors, not only the material but if you are a professional it will be totally different, you need to wash them regularly and even sanitize them. In that case you better use more resilient brushes like goat and if possible darker. If you use cream products, then you should be using brushes that haven’t any dye or it will damage the dye and consequently the bristles.
For squirrel brushes, they recommend to wash them as little as possible, 3 to 4 times a year could even be more than enough, you can wash them every month depending on how often you use them. I use a microfibre cloth to clean them on a regular basis and to remove all the oils on the bristles. I do not use alcohol on very delicate hair because it could make it more fragile and cause them to break more easily. When I wash them with water, I use mild baby shampoo but I will show you an example further down on the post.
If you use your brushes for cream products you will have to wash them everytime or at least spot clean them after each use. Spot cleaning for me means to either use a microfibre cloth or to use paper towel and some cleansing spray. Some stippling brushes are very forgiving and you can use them a few times before they need their wash, it will actually depend on the product or the brush.
If you need to sanitize the brushes, since this can be a bit harsh, spray the alcohol based product on the towel and not directly on the brush head.
These are the products I use :
  1. This is just simply a bowl for the shampoo and water mix because sometimes it’s a shame to use running water for a long period.
  2. Microfibre cloth : I bought mine in a supermarket in the kitchen area, very efficient, you just clean the head of the brush with this and you see that the oils and powder residue on the brushes disappears.
  3. MUFE brush cleanser : I use it for spot cleaning eyeliner brushes.
  4. Bobbi Brown brush cleanser : Also for spot cleaning, eyeliner or bigger brushes.
  5. Nivea baby shampoo : for any delicate brush, I just use any neutral shampoo.
  6. Kashoen washing product : bought it at their boutique. I have to use too much product and it’s not the cheapest solution… , two pumps per brush is just way too much and I don’t feel like I can manage with less. I use it only with the Kashoen brushes but I used shampoo as well and I don’t see any difference so far, well at least in the short time.
  7. Alcohol : just to sanitize foundation brushes, not always, just sometimes when I spot clean them or if I want to use them on somebody else.
  8. Brush cleaner and preserver : it’s not bad but not necessary either.
  9. Comb : to remove dust or to just give a nice brush to a brush but this is to be used with care, do not use force!
  10. Savon de Marseille : it’s the soap that I have at home, cheap and the one that makes them look whiter. I was concerned that it was too aggressive so I bought some testers to verify that. I have been using that on all my goat brushes and even small squirrel brushes and I never had a problem. I just buy one type of soap that appears mild enough for a frequent use.

Let’s see the process… 

These are dirty brushes, there is a bit of everything and I will show you how I wash some of them. By the way, you are very welcome to leave your questions, comments and experiences below so that it gives more ideas to others who are wondering how to deal with this brush cleaning process.
For the very delicate brushes, I mix the mild shampoo with some water :
Dip the brush inside the water trying to avoid the ferrule :
Then I simply clean the bristles with my fingers, I just washed two brushes and the water afterwards was quite disgusting… (I use these brushes with bronzer hence the color)
Then, I rinse them thoroughly with lukewarm water and once properly rinsed, I remove all the water I can with a paper towel :
Gently but firmly pressing :
I reshape the brush :
And I create a brush guard with the paper towel and some tape to hold it :
That’s it for the delicate brushes, I just make this additional brush guard  when I don’t want the head to spread out too much although I never had this problem anyway.
I lay it flat to dry and during the drying process, every time I pass by the brushes I move the hair a bit to make the air go through the bristles and help it dry faster. The faster it dries the better for the glue. Never use heat, sun or a hairdryer otherwise you will alter the glue.
For other goat or less delicate brushes, the process is much  faster, I use my solid soap de Marseille, just wet the brush, dip it into the soap and pick some of it :


Wet the brush again and pick more soap…



Then I rub it against the palm of my hand to wash :



If I use the Brush Cleaner here, the technique is the same but at the end I find that it doesn’t give such a whiter finish with it, this pic is before the wash (blush and foundation on it) :



Some water and soap picking after, it starts to get clean …




But the close up  pic will always show that the Savon de Marseille is a better result :




Same process with an eyeshadow brush :




With the Cleaner and Preserver :




With Savon de Marseille (it’s the same brush!)



For spot cleaning, you spray some cleaning spray on the towel and you use that towel on the brushes :





Disgusting pic… the C011 from Koyudo under heavy spot cleaning but still not white, so I reserve spot cleaning with a spray for eyeliner brushes only. Or for some small weasel brushes that I use with cream or liquid products when I want to use several colors with the same brush during the same application.




Since I was using basic Savon de Marseille with most of my brushes, I wanted to make sure that it was safe enough and wanted to compare it with other soaps or shampoos I had in terms of PH.





  1. The Masters brush cleaner and preserver : in terms of “preserver” it looks better than the Savon de Marseille and even better than the baby shampoo, but in terms of use, it’s a bit hard to pick and takes a while to have the brushes look clean, sometimes I am probably forcing a bit too much and forcing is not good for the bristles… This cleaner requires a bit too much patience from me, that I don’t have.
  2. Savon de Marseille : similar PH than the baby shampoo, just very easy to use but next time I buy it I will make sure the ingredients are not too harsh for the brushes (alcohol, etc…) because that’s what also will cause bristle breakage. After so many years using this soap for goat or synthetic brushes I have no complaint, they still look like new.
  3. Kashoen liquid cleaner : better than the baby shampoo, but I feel like I need a lot and the bottle goes down quickly, depending on how often or how many brushes you wash, it may result a bit expensive.
  4. Baby shampoo : gentle, easy to use.




The baby shampoo corresponds to a neutral ph, the darker that yellow pan, the more alkaline the product is.




I even tested with a special no-soap soap and the result is similar to the Savon de Marseille. So I don’t think I have to worry but I will have to check the ingredients next time I buy it 🙂

The water you have at home will also change the result but for example a pure water compared to tap water the result is exactly the same for me…




Bottom line 

If you don’t know what soap to use, use baby shampoo, I’d say it’s the easiest way to do it. If you find that your brushes don’t pick powder well, try to change the product you use to wash them, this can influence the way the brushes work.

Now they are all drying … goat brushes dry extremely fast, just a few hours and they are ready to use. The big squirrel brushes will dry overnight. Synthetic brushes will take even longer to dry.




So… This answers “how do I wash my brushes” but if you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate 🙂



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Mary 9 November, 2013 - 8:20 pm

Have you tried baby soap Sonia? Is it best to have a neutral PH? I like the idea of soap as it’s an easier option as you said above.

Sweet make up temptations 9 November, 2013 - 8:28 pm

Hi Mary,
That bottle of shampoo is in fact baby shampoo 🙂 I just look that the bottle mentions it has a neutral ph.
And no alcohol within the ingredients.
For sure, it has to be easy 🙂

212kiki 9 November, 2013 - 8:33 pm

Very nice post. To hear what the companies say about shedding is very informative.
I think I should change to baby soap for the squirrel brushes too.
I use German “kernseife” for all my brushes. It should be the same type of soap like the french one you are using because my wiki say something like that 😀 http://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kernseife

Sweet make up temptations 9 November, 2013 - 9:08 pm

oh yes it’s the same soap 🙂

Melissa 9 November, 2013 - 8:34 pm

THANK YOU for this GREAT brush cleaning manual. Love the info abt the manufacturing back ground. I hate the coating they use, esp on the eye brushes. I often have to wash them twice to have it completely removed 🙁

Those moulds looks like she was baking little cakes 🙂 esp with the tin containing some “powder” in front of her! Wish I had such amazing skills.

The more I find out abt the manufacturing process, the more I admire all the works that need to be done to create a make up brush. I use all my Kumano brushes with pride. The washing is still a pain in the a** though 🙁

Sweet make up temptations 9 November, 2013 - 9:11 pm

you should see them at work, they are so precise it’s unbelievable, I was mesmerized when they were using that razor but every process was such a calculated movement.
In a way, I am relieved I have now the microfibre cloth, it saves me a huge lot of washing!

midnitedesire 9 November, 2013 - 8:37 pm

I can’t even imagine how much work this was and thanks again for your very useful information, I’m always looking for a new cleaner/shampoo/soap to try 🙂

Sweet make up temptations 9 November, 2013 - 9:14 pm

Thank you Tesla 😉
I am quite happy with a simple mild shampoo because the others tend to not “mousse” enough and I like to see the mousse working.. weird…

Gisele 9 November, 2013 - 8:47 pm

Excellent post, dear! Thank you! 😀

Sweet make up temptations 9 November, 2013 - 9:15 pm

you are welcome dear!

Monika L 9 November, 2013 - 10:17 pm

Thanks for the post, it’s really interesting, l will definitely use the tip with the paper guard, thanx 🙂 I was wondering if you know where could I get the brush comb? I really would love one 🙂 and did you have a chance to use the Hakuhodo brush cleanser? I really like it and a little bit goes the long way 🙂

Buggsiebee 9 November, 2013 - 10:24 pm

Oh, I hope my poor brushes NEVER gain access to this blog & get to read how other brushes are treated!

My poor brushes have a waaaaaay less glamorous bathing experience! I use Beliance soap which is especially for cosmetic brushes & which I buy from Douglas for €10,-.
It lasts forever, gets my white brushes clean with no problem. I haven’t yet noticed any of my brushes ( neither squirrel, nor goat/ synthetic ) having negative side-effects.
I put a household rubber glove (with a bit of traction ) on my left hand & swipe the brushes over the rough surface after wetting them & wiping them accross the soap. They foam up nicely on the slightly rough surface of the glove.
I rinse my brushes under very gently running water. You don’t need more than a trickle, but I like to see the water run clean.
For foundation brushes I warm up the water a bit during the washing phase, but I rinse them cool/ cold to seal the hair shaft. No hair likes hot!!

After squeezing them dry on a towel I dry them head down in brush guards for the first few hours and then lie them flat over night. However, I like the head of the brush to hang free over the side of the comode/ shelf so that the hair has air from all sides while drying.

I might add that I wash my brushes as seldom as possible – perhaps once a month. After each use I wipe them off on a micro fibre cloth & this keeps them more / less pigment free for a few weeks.

I’m not that fond of washing my brushes, but I LOVE, Love waking up to a row of freshly bathed & dried fluffy beauties!!

212kiki 10 November, 2013 - 7:58 pm

hahah buggsie i think your brushes should be happy to be treated like that but if your brushes ever decide to escape from you i would welcome them with a fresh luxurious wash 😛
But i’m glad sonia told us that it’s “better” for the squirrel brushes to be washed only a few times a year 😀

btw since i heard here http://delicatehummingbird.blogspot.de/2011/01/great-brush-wash.html that brush soap is the same like the cheap drugstore “curd soap” i only use this 😉

Buggsiebee 10 November, 2013 - 8:23 pm

That’s exacty where I first heard about the Beliance soap 😉
It’s sad that she doesn’t blog anymore, but I guess life moves on and other things take priority.
Microfibre cloths are brilliant in saving delicate squirrel hair brushes from too many baths.

212kiki 10 November, 2013 - 11:27 pm

I should try a microfibre cloth i only tab it on my hand a few times.

Yes its sad because she was, at the very first beginning of my obsession, almost the only one with some haku reviews. But yes a blog is a lot of work so you have to make priorities… but i’m glad i found smut 😛

Raglo 10 November, 2013 - 12:21 am

Marvelous post! But, omg, squirrel brushes 3x a year?? I don’t know, my powder brush gets greasy somewhere between week one and two of daily use and at that point it just has to wait for when I have time, give or take a few days, to give it a bath :D. I use shampoo and conditioner, cheap mild shampoo for synthetics, but I find that when I use my own shampoo on the big fluffy brushes they look and feel SO much better! It’s like whatever the shampoo advertises it will do to your hair, it does to the brush. Gosh, I hope I’m not hurting them… But yeah, don’t use alcohol or brush cleaner personally. I feel like, if it’s that harmless and great, I dare the MUA who says that to wash their hair with 92% alcohol and tell me it’s harmless :D.

Emi at Project Swatch 10 November, 2013 - 12:31 am

Great post – so interesting! My understanding of pH is that eyes (like water) have a neutral pH, 7. So, baby shampoo is formulated to have the same pH so it doesn’t sting if it gets in the baby’s eyes. However, hair (and skin) naturally has a pH of around 5, so it’s better for the hair [on your head] to be washed with shampoo with a pH of around 5. I’m not sure how that translates to the hair in brushes, though.

Buggsiebee 11 November, 2013 - 7:38 am

Thanks for that little titbit Emi.
That would perhaps explain why it’s often recommended that one should NOT wash brushes with baby shampoo.
I need to do some reading up on the difference/ similarity between the PH of animal & human hair. Really interesting.

212kiki 11 November, 2013 - 9:53 am

yes it’s an intresting point. But I think the shampoo only has a lower ph because of the skin on my head…
Brushes don’t have skin so is it important for the hair to be washed with a special ph when I use (ph neutra) water after using the shampoo ? These are only my thoughts about this I don’t have infos if there is anything right about 😀
I searched a bit and found that dogs skin has different ph so that’s why you should use dog shampoo.

212kiki 11 November, 2013 - 11:09 am

Hmmm found this. There is a little info about the ph from brushes but I’m wondering what the brush companies say about the right ph. http://redlipslonglashes.com/beauty/how-to-clean-take-care-of-your-makeup-brushes

Sweet make up temptations 11 November, 2013 - 3:35 pm

it’s a very interesting point indeed but as long as it’s neutral ph it should fall into a correct and acceptable ph window.. there is still a big window there..

Emi at Project Swatch 17 November, 2013 - 4:08 pm

That makes sense! And I’m sorry if my comment came off as criticizing you – that’s not what I intended at all, just sharing an interesting tidbit.

Also, I started using a microfiber cloth to spot clean my brushes after reading this post, and it works SO WELL! It’s a fantastic tip, thanks so much!

Sweet make up temptations 18 November, 2013 - 11:14 pm

It does work well 🙂 that’s such a helpful step !

Debbie 10 November, 2013 - 2:43 am

Wow very interesting post. I usually spot clean or do the whole shampoo thing for all my brushes. You’ve given me a lot of useful tips for my more delicate and luxe brushes 🙂

Animor 10 November, 2013 - 2:54 am

There are so much information. Thanks Sonia this is really usefull. I usually wash my brushes about once every 40-45 days alternately with the Mac clenser or with my daughter baby shampoo. And then left them dry on a flat surface leaving the head freely protruding from the shelf. In normal days i clean the brushes rubbing them on a white tissue after each application of powder or cream product. Having said that i must admit, i have never have thought to comb them and i never have thought of the damage of the humidity on them. Now i am a little afraid,
at the moment,i live in japan and here humidity is really strong so i am going to take remedy.

Audrey 10 November, 2013 - 3:27 am

O_O OMG, I’ve been washing my brushes with dishwashing liquid and drying it with a hairdryer. How bad was I? Thanks for the enlightenment.

Christine 10 November, 2013 - 3:57 am

Great post! I have a lot of brushes (not as many as you) and recently noticed that some brushes I have not used in a long time were partially eaten by moths (I assume). The brushes were clean and stored in a drawer in my makeup storage cart. I noticed that the moths seemed to prefer my Chanel, Claudio Riaz, Trish McEvoy and Shu brushes. Luckily, my Suqqu and Tom Ford brushes were spared. Can you recommend anything I can do to prevent this going forward? How can I keep them safe when not in use?

Vivian 10 November, 2013 - 7:52 am

wow…this is so informational!! I always wanted to know how I should take care of my brushes…you even posted pictures, so awesome! And knowing that this info is coming from a brush expert like you, it’s reassuring. -=D

Judy 10 November, 2013 - 9:38 am

Long time lurker, first time commenter…love your blog/ forum, Sonia. I have bought 10 brushes and counting since I ‘found’ you which still makes me a brush newbie by your standards. I’m also bypassing all those department store counter brushes and aiming my aspirations for the handmade Japanese brushes.
Now, the least favourite part of my growing brush addiction is the washing but you have made an art of it. This is an indulgent ‘brush spa’ and I would have expected no less from you. By the way, I am still recovering from the post on your Alex drawers.

Devin 10 November, 2013 - 10:06 am

Great post Sonia. I use curd soap, the Masters brush cleaner/preserver and Wen Cleansing Conditioner to condition them. The brush cleaner/preserver is actually my favorite. I am glad that it has been given your seal of approval even if it isn’t your favorite.
Thank you for telling me that it is okay to only wash my squirrel brushes a few times a year. Now I don’t feel so dirty about it. The microfiber cloth is a lifesaver and really cleans my brushes well, even my eyeshadow brushes.

Jessica 10 November, 2013 - 10:24 am

Hi doll,
I was wondering if you have tried mixing water with some drops of Tea Tree oil to disinfect your brushes?
I used o spray alcohol to the brushes but i notices a huge softness change in all my japanese brushes, now im spraying water with tea tree and they are back on track.

Brushy hugs!

bettina 10 November, 2013 - 1:31 pm

such a great post – you sharing always very helpfull tipps – im gonna get a savon de marseille… and i should overthink my deepcleaning once a week:)

Star Girl 10 November, 2013 - 2:09 pm

Sonia, your posts are a masterclass! Thank you – highly informative. I loved the glimpse into the Japanese manufacturing process. I swear by microfibre cloths for cleaning my brushes, too. I get the white ones so I can see exactly how much product is removed. It’s remarkable how much a brush will hold. I always brush out product on the cloth before I use the brush again as I don’t want old product muddying that day’s makeup effort. The cloths are super easy to clean and quick to dry.

Thanks again, Lovely Lady.

Bonnie 10 November, 2013 - 2:09 pm

I started using the Savon de Marseille upon your recommendation, and just some neutral shampoo. Has worked well so far! I also use the Bobbi Brown and Shu Uemura brush cleanser. I found with the Shu though, I need a lot to get my brushes clean, and while they say it’s okay for the brushes, it does contain alcohol.

On another note, I find cleaning my brushes utterly therapeutic…. but then again, I also bizarrely enjoy washing dishes and vacuuming (but I hate mopping lol).

Buggsiebee 10 November, 2013 - 7:54 pm

Me toooo!! Mopping is THE pitts!!

Bonnie 11 November, 2013 - 2:00 am

Do you think if I pretend it is a gigantic brush (which it… sort of is), and I pretend that I am applying foundation to the ground, I will enjoy it more!?

Buggsiebee 11 November, 2013 - 7:31 am

Noooooooo, I think it will put you off putting on foundation for the rest of your life :(((

Bonnie 14 November, 2013 - 8:14 am

I thought our love of brushes would help overcome this hatred…. I guess not!!

Ginny 11 November, 2013 - 11:18 am

I think the SHU UEMURA actually smells really bad. I got a set of his Christmas brushes and theres once the liquid got onto the handle, the top coat of the brushes handles when melted and stick together. My bad to not looking after my brushes.

Veronika 10 November, 2013 - 2:26 pm

Than you so much for this website Sonia! You are so kind and passionete woman. I love reading this blog. Many kisses from Slovakia 🙂

Jessica 10 November, 2013 - 3:58 pm

Thank you- first post I ever read from a person that loves brushes and takes care of them!

Ylona 10 November, 2013 - 4:07 pm

Thank you for this post !!!
It’s very helpfull <3

I'm using dish washing liquide to quikely wash eyeliner gel. I'll try the baby shampoo next time.

I'm wondering why they dont make makeup brushes like the asian painting brushes, with a little loop at the end of the brushes, so you can suspend them when you need to dry it after wash (also you can store them elegantly with a wood support, that would be soo pretty).
I've only seen this on very rare, "traditional" asian makeup brushes.
That would make the dry much more easy.
Maybe you can make a suggestion to them next time, hihi 😉


Here is a picture of asian painting brush support.

More pictures from Google images

Ginny 11 November, 2013 - 11:16 am

Well I never think of that! But as a chinese I found that doesn’t looks nice with makeup brushes rather than drawing brushes 😛 And you can’t get a string to hang it up!

Ylona 11 November, 2013 - 1:51 pm

Hi Ginny,
Thanks for your reply. I’m also chinese ;).
I can easily imagin Tom Ford’s gorgeous brushes with a loop :D.
Imo, I prefer to put them head down rather than head up. I feel it would be better to preserve their shape, even better than to let them horizontal. Also when they are on a table, they will get less dust than head up.
Lots of people put them in a glass, with beads inside, so i think the loops wont make any truble for them.
I guess it would be more easy to let them dry head down on a lovely support and they still are décorative in the room rather than to monopolise places in the kitchen or on a table or anything else with kitchen papers ;).


Ginny 11 November, 2013 - 3:06 pm

Oh yes after watching lots of youtube videos and blog posts there are lots of girls storing their brushes heads up in a glass with beads. I personally do store them heads up (when its dry) due to lack of spaces, and I will dry them flat after washing. I tend to flat them on a towel with one side roll up for 2- 3 times, so keep a distance between the brushes and the surface (of the table), and not in an angle. Everyone got their own preferences of washing, drying and storing their brushes, and Sonia provide her own preferences washing her “babies” 😉 Probably we need “drying rack with clips” (Google the pic) that can clip the brush downward to dry LOL

Buggsiebee 10 November, 2013 - 7:52 pm

Oh! Hey! The background design has changed again! Cherry blossom & little white eyes?
I like it 🙂

Stacy 11 November, 2013 - 12:50 pm

I really like the new background 🙂

Sweet make up temptations 11 November, 2013 - 3:32 pm

thank you Stacy 🙂

Sweet make up temptations 11 November, 2013 - 3:38 pm

yes it’s changing 😉 glad you like it Buggsie! it has the Buggsie stamp approval, yeah!!

Nuria 10 November, 2013 - 11:49 pm

Thanks for sharing all these tips! I seldom clean my 6 brushes because I seldom put on makeup. As yous say, we should use our brushes, which is also applicable to our makeup. I tend to buy too much makeup, more than I can actually use up before the expiring date. I’ll try to splurge less on makeup and more on adequate tools to apply it^^.

Ginny 11 November, 2013 - 11:14 am

Thank you for sharing! I used to use SHU UEMURA brush cleanser, which contains some materials that made the coating of the brush handle melted 🙁 Then I bought Beauty Blender with the liquid cleanser, which was’t bad. I tried Bobbi Brown gel and spray cleanser as well, and actually the spray can get rid of the gel products on the brushes more easily! Now I am using London Brush Company goat milk soap (a hard soap instead of liquid, which looks like your Brush cleaner and preserver), and that hard soap is more durable when theres so many brushes to clean!

Stacy 11 November, 2013 - 12:49 pm

Ok now I know what I want to be when I “grow up”! I want to be the one you hire to wash your brushes! :p
Thank you for all of the research and good info!
Like Bonnie, I find washing brushes very therapeutic / relaxing. I have created a drying set up that works so well for me: I use clothes hangers (many 🙂 ) that have six clips attached and use rubber bands to hang my brushes upside down to dry.

Ginny 11 November, 2013 - 3:10 pm

OMG that is a brilliant idea using rubber bands to tied up on the clothes hanger with clips! Thanks for the idea! I just think of the drying rack with clips (google ” drying rack with clips” for pics) that have clips clipping the brushes downward but the clips won’t able to clip them steady… Tie them up with rubber band is just the twist of it!

Sweet make up temptations 11 November, 2013 - 3:31 pm

Well.. for me it’s time consuming to tie each brush and the water (even when the excess is removed) might put pressure on the glue inside the ferrule when hanging upside down so that’s why I don’t really bother with this method.
If the brushes are tiny that’s no problem but if they are big powder brushes I don’t want to risk it. And if they are delicate if they fall on the floor it’s also not that great… the name engraved on the brush might also be altered with a rubber band around… I don’t know, these are just my little thoughts 🙂

Stacy 11 November, 2013 - 5:39 pm

Ginny, that is exactly what I do:) it works great for me… I stole the idea from a blog and I feel terrible I can’t remember whose!

Sweet make up temptations 11 November, 2013 - 3:32 pm

you can come here anytime, you know that! by the way, I am waiting for you!!

Stacy 11 November, 2013 - 5:40 pm

Don’t be surprised if one day you hear a knock….

Sweet make up temptations 12 November, 2013 - 8:51 pm

I am waiting Stacy…

Sumin 11 November, 2013 - 6:02 pm

Thanks for the information! Soon I’ll get my first Hakuhodo brushes and I want them ‘to live’ as long as possible and I thought curd soap might be a bit too harsh.
I tested my curd soap and its pH is around 10 :/ I read that a pH at almost 5,5 is good. Since 5,5 is neutral for skin… But the author of ‘delicatehummingbird’ uses the same one. My brushes still feel amazing and look like new after about 2 years. I don’t like baby shampoo.
I have to change my washing habits a bit. I wash my brushes way too often. I love washing brushes. I wished I had friends who have brushes, because I’d wash their brushes at a visit 😀

Sweet make up temptations 12 November, 2013 - 8:48 pm

If your brushes are not dyed, they will stand more “harsher” soaps, that’s why I don’t mind using that one, also the washing process is shorter therefore I won’t be “molesting” the bristles for as long as with another soap.
I will have to check very carefully the ingredients of the next ones I buy, just to make sure they aren’t loaded with bad chemicals.
You could come here and help me then 😉 that’ll be fun!!

Amalia 11 November, 2013 - 6:08 pm

I have sebamed but never tried it for brushes

Sweet make up temptations 12 November, 2013 - 8:44 pm

I haven’t tried it either for the brushes, I just wanted to compare if that would be similar to the soap I normally use 🙂

Bonnie 14 November, 2013 - 8:16 am

Sonia, when you say you check for ingredients, what specific ingredients are you looking to avoid?

Sweet make up temptations 15 November, 2013 - 10:32 am

Mostly alcohol, I will find the exact list for you 🙂

Anna G. 12 November, 2013 - 11:31 pm

I cannot for the life of me believe I’ve missed so many posts!Obviously I went through all of them as to not miss a thing(and add to the desperation of wanting even more things that I can’t have),but this has to be my favorite post!Fantastic work and research Sonia!Love it to bits!
All the best xxx

cheshiresara 13 November, 2013 - 10:43 am

I only have synthetic brushes and I use the MAC brush cleanser for spot cleaning and some delicate shampoo to wash them, about every two weeks for the face brushes and once a month for the eyes brushes 😉

BB.s. 14 November, 2013 - 3:33 am

Finally!! I almost use exactly the same method as you do. Soap for goat and synthetic hair and baby shampoo for delicate hair. But I have one problem with the baby shampoo and my squirrel hair brushes. For example, hakuhodo S111, S116 and S121G. After I clean them with J & J baby shampoo and dry them, they feel very sticky in some way. All the hairs kind of stick together, almost feel oily. And the hairs are not loose and clean feeling at all. Is it because I haven’t rinsed them clean enough???

michelle 15 November, 2013 - 9:18 pm

awesome post once again Sonia! I admit, i love washing my brushes, although it can be tedious, it can be relaxing for me after a stressful week and have some down time for myself. I have been using Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap- specifically the almond and lemon. I have also hung my brushes to drain as I am afraid to let them dry on there sides for fear of water getting into the ferrule. Anyways, thought you and others might be interested in this:

Jessica S. 16 November, 2013 - 4:52 am

Lurker, first time commenter. I’ve been using Dove sensitive skin bar soap to wash my brushes. It does a much better job than the Clinique brush cleaner I used before, and doesn’t have a ton of alcohol like the Clinique did. Good to know I made the right decision, and my Hakuhodo’s will be happy 🙂

Sweet make up temptations 18 November, 2013 - 11:07 pm

they will Jessica 😀 I have hesitated getting it and probably will do in the future.

Rita 19 November, 2013 - 7:44 pm

Hi Sonia,
Where can I buy the brush comb?

Sweet make up temptations 19 November, 2013 - 10:35 pm

Hi Rita,
I bought it at the brush museum in Kumano but can not find it online. Still searching where it could be available. If I find it I tell you all asap, many of you have asked me so I really would like to locate where they are available for online purchase.

Cathy 21 November, 2013 - 5:57 am

Love your blog!! I’m saving up to buy hakuhodo brushes. Have you ever heard of clean brush shampoo? It has goat milk and olive oil versions and is so gentle and amazing. They have made my scratchy Mac brushes softer than when I first got them!! I highly recommend it! http://www.cleanbrushes.com

Sweet make up temptations 22 November, 2013 - 11:45 pm

hi Cathy, no I haven’t yet 🙂 thanks for the recommendation!

yejina 24 November, 2013 - 11:37 am

hi sonia!
i am wondering how you clean the synthetic foundation brushes? it’s very hard and takes long time to wash the thick synthetic foundation brushes like shiseido slanted angle or reap techniques expert or sigma kabukis. i found the best way is use make up remover oils like shu uemuras and rub in my palm and give them a wash under water. i even use the same method for some of my white goat brushes since its quick and easier than the soap. is using the oil too harsh for the brushes? if it is what would u suggest for thick foundation brush washing?

Sweet make up temptations 27 November, 2013 - 11:38 pm

Hi Yejina, I am afraid I don’t do much else than use the soap in the same way as the goat brushes. Just need a lot of rinsing and rubbing (softly) and again more rinsing and more rubbing, I see what you mean, we have to insist with these. I feel like synthetic brushes do not easily clean and I spray some alcohol sometimes when they are dry just to make sure bacteria will not develop that easily. I was thinking one day of using a kitchen (plastic) glove thing but just my hand is enough, just requires additional cleaning than goat brushes and they take much longer to dry, that’s another reason why I prefer natural brushes.

Preeti Kaur 24 November, 2013 - 4:34 pm

Gee! Thanks for sharing 🙂 You put so much effort in this. Hats off!


Erica 6 December, 2013 - 3:13 am

Hello! I am so utterly grateful to you for your wealth of information and passion about brushes/fudes in general! Thank you! I’ve learned so very much, and finally feel as though my investments are lived and protected with the Savon de Marseilles cleaning method. Brush cleaning is a very polarizing subject, with every artist insisting that their way is THE right way (they learned it from someone who told the the same), while another artist tells you that their method is perfect- ‘and by the way she doesn’t know she’s talking about.’ Lol!;) I’ve worried about all the alcohol cleaning methods that have forced upon me, and feel I was right to be concerned. My favorite blush brush the Rae Morris Deluxe Kabuki #1 is dry, brittle, and losing steam and shape. I’m heart broken. I attribute this to alcohol, which I used as a final step to sanitize. While sanitation is paramount for clients, it’s not always necessary when working at home on your own skin only. I would prefer to have more brushes and clean them gently, than just a few that are damaged by harsh cleansing methods. Anyway, sorry for rambling, but aim so grateful, fascinated in an absurd way about the fabrication methods, people and companies. I am stunned by the methodical way you deduced each component, and what method and ph would suit it best. Bravo!!! I’d like to know that I’ve compiled a short video, and will be thanking you for alerting me to the wonders of Savon de Marseilles. I am VERY eager for Rae’s new revamped line, the face set in particular. Will you be gracing your fine collection with any of these? I did just get a new camera lens, however, Santa must think me a Brat!;) If there is anything I can ever do for you or your blog, I feel in your debt, and friendship as well. Sorry, we are now, I’ve decided. Your friend, Erica

Sweet make up temptations 6 December, 2013 - 7:47 am

Hi Erica, thank you for your sweet comment, glad to have found a new friend 🙂
If you are a makeup artist sometimes alcohol based products may be a necessity, but if you pay attention at the counter their brushes are often discolored (which is normal with the frequent uses and the harsh products they have to use sometimes). Their usage does not reflect a normal use with a cleaning once in a while where we can be a bit more gentle with our brushes.
About Rae Morris, it’s a very long story… if you have a look at the forum topic “upcoming releases” you will know why 🙂
I still have purchased two, the 23 and the angled fan but I am not a fan of magnets in brushes so … I got these two because I have the older foundation brush that I love for delicate skin so I am hoping this will replace it with a better quality. The contour one is also a great brush and wanted to check if the revamped line has improved quality, although to be honest I think they are a bit too much on the expensive side…
Wishing you a great day!
PS : love Shubaka, so cute! and he really looks like him 😀

Gloria 14 December, 2013 - 9:33 am

Love your post!!!!!Learnt so much!!;)
I’ve seen some video mentioned about using baby powder to clean the squirrel brushes everyday and I actually do use this method to clean my Chikuhodo Z brushes,but does that really works???
Squirrel brushes are really delicate…I also bought a hakuhodo brushes cleaner and use it to clean my lip brush or eyeliner brush….And I haven’t clean my face brush since I bought it this fall(it’s Chikuhodo MK2),is that being to long??

Thank you!!!XD

Cathy 20 January, 2014 - 3:23 am

I just purchased my first set of Hakuhodo brushes! Do you recommend washing them first before using them? The lady from Hakuhodo said I should only wash them once a year or 2 years…that seems like way too long. Thoughts?

Sweet make up temptations 20 January, 2014 - 10:47 pm

Hi Cathy,
Congratulations 🙂
Yes I would wash them before I use them, what brushes are they ? once a year is very little… I think you can wash them more often, with care of course 🙂 but I don’t think it’s a problem to wash them 4 times a year, as long as you don’t use harsh products and you dry them properly. Use a microfiber cloth for frequent cleaning but still, if you feel they need a wash, I would not refrain from washing them. The ones I use more frequently are washed every month and they are like new.

Ruthie 22 January, 2014 - 11:15 pm

Hi Sonia, I’ve a silent reader of your site for a long time. I’ve finally bought my first set of hakuhodo brushes!!! Thanks for posting this helpful info about taking care of the brushes. I’ll definitely try to use savon de marseille esp I have tons of goat hair brushes. What I’m curious is where you bought your comb for the brushes. Would you mind sharing that? Thanks!

Sweet make up temptations 26 January, 2014 - 4:38 pm

Hi Ruthie, thank you 🙂 well… I bought it in Kumano in the brush museum, difficult to find it unless you are in Japan.
I am considering recommending the new Rae Morris mascara applicator for that same purpose, will receive mine in one week or so and when I write my review I will mention if it works for that 🙂 http://raemorris.com/products/brush-17-mascara-applicator-1

Aliye 24 January, 2014 - 8:43 pm

I absolutely loveee this blog! and your collection! so informative and thorough ive learnt so much, so appreciated! placed my order through for koyudo and cant wait to get them..
But as im going into the make up industry ive been keen to get some squirrel brushes but now im scared that i wont be able to use them for clients as wont be able to sanitize properly as i would ruin the hairs? cant believe how little they are supposed to be washed, i washed my wayne goss powder brush other day with macs brush cleanser as just a spot clean and now i feel like i tortured it haha!

Sweet make up temptations 26 January, 2014 - 4:48 pm

It can take a while Aliye, Koyudo take some time to be made but they are stunning and worth the wait.
When you are a makeup artist, there is nothing you can do to avoid stronger cleaners, these are necessary. To be a bit more gentle, spray the product on the towel and not directly onto the brush but I see what you mean 🙂
Some makeup artists spray alcohol on the towel and they clean their brushes like that, now … rougher brushes are more resilient that’s for sure, the life span of the brushes when there is heavy usage is reduced but that’s totally normal 🙂

Aliye 30 January, 2014 - 6:16 pm

I did read that some can take about 4 weeks to make and god knows how long to ship to the UK but thats completely fine I was prepared and will be worth it!!
Yeah of course i see what you mean!
Ive always hated using the 99% 91% etc alcohol on brushes, even ordinary ones it just dries them out so much, but when it comes to cleaning brushes everyone says completely different things! so il just have to see what works to condition them too while having to disinfect!
Thank you for your help i appreciate it!

How To: Washing Makeup Brushes | Project Swatch 13 February, 2014 - 8:33 pm

[…] learned recently (thanks to Sweet Makeup Temptations’s epic post on cleaning brushes) that microfiber cloths can be used to spot-clean brushes.  I just gently wipe […]

lorraine 28 May, 2014 - 3:32 am

I can’t seem to find the Savon de Marseille soap anywhere in the US. Would you mind telling me what the ingredients are so I can find something similar?

212kiki 30 May, 2014 - 12:11 pm

Savon de marseille or in Germany it’s called kernseife. It’s should be curdsoap for you. It’s a soap in its purest form not like your handwash soap filled with lot of incis… It’s not a gentle soap.
There are different kind of curdsoaps too some are based on different oils or add different incis. France is more known for its oliveoil based curdsoaps. A blog says our curd soup has the same inci like the expensive brush soap which you can buy. Here you can see both incis

Hakuhodo brush guide | Makeup for Beginners 20 August, 2014 - 9:17 pm

[…] Hakuhodo’s brush care/cleaning instructions are here. Sweet Makeup Temptations has much more information here. […]

beejee 7 September, 2014 - 5:58 am

Hi, Where can I buy a comb like yours? I like it. 🙂

Sweet Make-Up Temptations 7 September, 2014 - 8:13 pm

Here you will find more info :

cdjapan.co.jp have one, link is in the brush temple 🙂

jane 16 October, 2014 - 12:37 pm

I’ve heard that i shouldn’t put my brushes flat after cleaning them..
to put them against wall/door in order to be them with end towards floor.

Sweet Make-Up Temptations 4 November, 2014 - 8:46 pm

Hi Jane, how would you put them against the door ? hanging them upside down ? this is of course an option but too complicated when you have a lot to dry.
Flat is totally fine, as long as you remove the excess water with a paper tissue. They dry quite fast so the glue is not altered with humidity.

Lana 23 October, 2014 - 5:33 am

Hi Sonia, loving your blog so so much lately. It’s very informative! I’m actually curious to know about your thoughts on the Koyudo Lohas brushes. How do the softness and quality of their brushes compare to other Koyudo brushes? I’m very curious to know since their bristles are sort of synthetic and originate from plants. Maybe since they’re not squirrel hair and they might be not as delicate, do they have better endurance in terms of washing and usage?

Sweet Make-Up Temptations 4 November, 2014 - 8:38 pm

Hi Lana,
Hmm I can’t summarize all that I think in a short comment. I think I will soon be ready to make a post, at least on some of them.
I struggle reaching for them on a daily basis because I really truly love natural brushes but these Lohas always get the job done when I use them, no doubts about that. FOr now, I am not ready to give my final verdict on them. I have washed them several times and so far so good, they are more enduring than squirrel bristles. Feels a bit like a wig lol but they ok once you get used to them… 🙂

Lana 6 November, 2014 - 8:55 am

Thanks so much for your feedback Sonia!(lol like a wig) Looking forward to your post! 😀

Jessica de la Torre | Makeup Artist » C’est le Magnifique: Savon de Marseille 23 October, 2014 - 2:17 pm

[…] by the so gorgeous Sonia from sweetmakeuptemptations.com when she posted a blogpost about “Cleaning and Caring” your makeup brushes. She is a japanese hand-crafted brushes collector and I would strongly […]

MWang 30 December, 2014 - 1:02 pm

Hey Yejina! Not sure if you’re still having that problem (After all, your comment is over a year old 😉 ) but if you do, try buying some Daiso Detergent Puff and Sponge Cleanser on Amazon or ebay, it’s SUPER efficient! Might not be the most gentle of products, so I wouldn’t use it for expensive natural hairs (not that you’d need it) but for thick, dense synthetic brush heads it’s perfect. I’ve tried it on the Sigma kabuki’s, the Zoeva foundation brushes and the You just dilute a few drops in some water, put the bristles in it and swirl around a bit –> all the gunky foundation just magically gets loosened and voilà! No more scrubbing like a maniac ;).

Ara 18 January, 2015 - 5:06 am

Have you tried the Laundress Wool and Cashmere shampoo for the brushes? I’ve read this on someone’s blog. Just wondering which one is better:the cashmere shampoo or the savon de Marseille?

Susan Parker 13 February, 2015 - 3:59 pm

I clean my make up brushes with dish soap and warm water and it works pretty well. Thanks a lot for the useful advices in this article! Regards! Brondesbury Carpet Cleaners Ltd.

Kimmiie 10 April, 2015 - 1:30 pm

Hi Sonia,
Can I ask which Savon de Marseille soap do you use? Is it the Palm Oil or the Olive oil one? I’m trying to source it out online in Australia and have found there’s 2 different types, olive oil and Palm oil. I’m just not sure on which one to get..?

Cheers 🙂

Sandra 4 February, 2018 - 8:51 am

Dear Sonia,

congrats to your wonderful brush collection. I bought the two face brushes base one and face two and I would please like to know the best way to wash them. Especially base one which I would like to use for liquid foundation 3-4 times per week. Looking forward to your recommendation.

The brushes are looking fantastic – so elegant. And the feeling is great!! Really awesome. Hope you will create more brushes and additional products in the future 🙂

Many thanks in advance and kind regards, Sandra

Rubaiyat Rahman 22 September, 2019 - 7:33 am

Hi Sonia. I love your brushes and my hakuhodo brushes. Honestly they are the best. Thankyou for being so informative and sharing your knowledge. Can you please tell me where can i buy the comb number 9 in your image? I would really appreciate it. I am looking that comb for my tons of your brush sets and my hakuhodo brushes but i am unable to find it.

I would really appreciate the help. Thankyou again.

Ann 9 November, 2020 - 4:20 pm

Hi Sonia, I have recently purchased some Wayne Goss Japanese (The eye set) brushes.He says they are very delicate.However I have an eye infection (conjunctivitis) and I really need to know the best way to disinfect these brushes without harming them in any way.

Sonia G. 9 November, 2020 - 4:53 pm

Dear Ann,

Are they the white brushes?
Goat is a bit more resilient than squirrel, so you could spray some sanitizing mist on a towel and then rub the head of the brushes on the towel (I have the BeautySoClean Cosmetic Sanitizer Mist).
I would avoid using make-up completely if you have an eye infection because it will also transfer to your make-up, which of course you can disinfect with alcohol but it’s a bit of a pain. Eventually try to use cream eye-makeup that you can apply with your clean fingertips or with a sponge applicator, maybe it’s a good enough temporary solution.
I hope you get better soon, I know it’s a pain to have conjunctivitis, I hope you have a good medecine that helps!
Take care!!

Susan 29 March, 2023 - 5:59 pm

Hi, sorry, I know this is an older post, but I just came upon it recently. thank you so much for posting all of this super helpful information! I just have one question that I can’t find the answer to anywhere about cleaning squirrel hair make up brushes. since they are not supposed to be washed too often, do you think they should be washed before their first use? Any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks

Sonia G. 4 April, 2023 - 3:24 pm

Hi Susan! Thank you for your kind comment! 🙂 yes I recommend you to wash them before their first use, the shape of the brush will likely change and perform better so just for that reason, I’d definitely wash them.
As far as I could see, they are sanitized at the manufacture before they are packed but you never know during transport if any dust or particles have gathered on the brush. <3


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