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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- MUFE brush cleanser : I use it for spot cleaning eyeliner brushes.
- Bobbi Brown brush cleanser : Also for spot cleaning, eyeliner or bigger brushes.
- Nivea baby shampoo : for any delicate brush, I just use any neutral shampoo.
- 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.
- 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.
- Brush cleaner and preserver : it’s not bad but not necessary either.
- 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!
- 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…
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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…
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 🙂