A Step-by-Step Guide to Caring for Brushes and Other Beauty Tools

Internationally recognized beauty authority Laura Mercier, author of The New Beauty Secrets, shares three insider tricks for maintaining your makeup applicators.

Washing Your Brushes
Caring for your brushes means washing them on a regular basis, not using them for a year and then tossing them. If you wait until your brushes look dirty, you’ve waited far too long. Apply makeup with clean tools; It’s better for your brushes and your skin.

Basically, there are two kinds of brushes: those you use with creamy products and those you use with powdery products.

Let’s talk about the first group, which includes brushes for concealer, camouflage, eyeliner, lip products, cream eyeshadow, and cream blush. These should be washed daily. This is a must for anything that touches your eyes or that you use to cover pimples because of bacteria. This probably sounds like a pain in the neck because you’re so busy, and the last thing you need is another chore. But once you get in the habit, quickly washing the brushes will become second nature. You can wait until you come home from work to clean them, instead of doing it right after you apply your makeup in the morning.

To get started you need some tissues and antibacterial dishwashing detergent. The detergent is perfect because it will disintegrate any grease or oil. Squeeze a little detergent on the brush and gently work it through with your fingers. Put the brush under warm running water and continue to work the soap through all the bristles in the direction of the hair, taking care not to bend the bristles. The soap will be creamy and opaque at first, then less so until you just have clear running water going through the bristles.

Put the freshly washed brushes on a paper towel or dish towel to dry, and reshape the brushes if necessary. For example, if a brush ends in a point, smooth the bristles back into a point. You can place the brushes near a heat source, like a radiator, but never directly on top.

For powder brushes, the directions are almost identical, with the exception that you don’t have to wash them as frequently and you should use mild soap or shampoo. Again, be gentle. It’s like washing your favorite La Perla bra, not scrubbing stains out of your jeans.

Sponges and Puffs
You should wash your sponges with mild soap under warm running water after every application. You should wash puffs in the same manner every few days or each week. Some makeup artists throw their puffs into the washing machine, but I don’t recommend it. Most laundry detergents aren’t mild enough, and all the tumbling around can damage them.

Put your sponges and puffs on a paper towel or dish towel to let them air dry. You may need to reshape your puffs.

Carry with Care
Do you travel with your tools? Maybe you take them to work every day, or perhaps you’re going on vacation and want to bring them along. Make sure to have a nice case or brush roll in which to carry them. Don’t toss them into your makeup bag where they’ll get beaten up and dirty. Another option is to buy a travel-size brush kit that comes with a special carrying case.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laura Mercier, the author of The New Beauty Secrets: Your Ultimate Guide to a Flawless Face (Copyright © 2006 by Gurwitch Products, LLC), is one of the most renowned beauty authorities in the world today. Her 20-year career as a makeup artist has brought her from Provence, Paris, and points around the globe to red carpets, photo studios, and movie sets. Laura’s work has appeared on the covers of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Allure, Elle, W, and other magazines, plus countless advertisements, album covers, movie posters, and more. Laura Mercier Cosmetics, her beauty brand, has enjoyed great success since 1996.

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