Monday, May 22, 2006

Beauty Q & A: How Do I Clean Make Up Brushes?

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Carrie's Curious About Cleaning:
I am an aspiring makeup artist and I'm wondering what the best way to clean and disinfect my cosmetics brushes would be. In Cosmetology school we used Quaternary Ammonium Compounds to disinfect hair brushes but how can I disinfect brushes I use on the face? If you have any great ideas let me know. I want to protect my clients as best as I can.

The Brains Don't Brush Her Off:
Thanks for the question Carrie. Unfortunately, there’s not a simple answer.
In reality, there are many disinfecting chemicals available - the Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (called Quats for short) are one of the most common. But when you become a professional make up artist, you'll need to make sure you're following the local state regulations for cosmetologists and those regulations usually specify some kind of sanitization protocol for brushes. You should be able to find out more by doing a web search for the state you’re in. (You’re probably in a state of confusion at this point!)

Now, having said all that, we can steer you toward a couple of “not-necessarily -approved-by-state-regulatory-agency” methods for cleaning make up brushes:

1) The Colorescience Brush company says this about their brush cleaner:
“This pharmaceutical grade aromatherapy spray gently cleans make up brushes with natural ingredients. Its alcohol and hydrogen peroxide formulation helps purify and quick dry your Colorescience brushes.”
2) A manufacturer of squirrel hair brushes (no, we’re not making this up) recommends the following and we quote:
“There are many brush cleaners available. Two excellent brands worth mentioning are Masters Brush Cleaner & Preserver and "Pink Soap" Artist Brush Cleaner and Conditioner. They both clean and rinse out very well. Moreover, they help condition your makeup brush hair. They are available at any good art supply store.”
The Brain’s attorneys won’t let us comment on the viability of using art supplies to clean your make up brushes, but hey, if it’s good enough for squirrels… But seriously, you should check out their website just to see their instructions on how to clean and dry brushes - they've got some good tips.

3) Finally, here's a tip from a consumer at one of our fave sites, “Smartskincare.com:

“After cleansing your face in the morning, you are more than likely spreading bacteria back on your face when you apply make-up with a brush. Makeup brushes are breeding grounds for bacteria. To help keep my brushes clean after each use, I simply wipe each brush back and forth over an inexpensive anti-bacterial wet wipe before putting them away. (You can actually see the makeup and blush residue deposited on the wipe!) Your brushes will be dry in about 3 minutes and stay much cleaner in between washings. This helps to keep breakouts to a minimum.”
Interesting. We’re not sure if this is scientifically valid, but interesting.

The Beauty Brain’s Bottom Line:

To be honest, we’re not really experts in brush cleaning. But there are a lot of products out there so we suggest you check with a local beauty school for their recommendations. Sorry we can't be of more help, but thanks for the interesting question.


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