For a makeup artist, the most important tool of the trade are high quality makeup brushes. Brushes vary in size, shape, type of material used for brush handle and hair type. Using the correct brush for application of each specific product is key in creating a seamless beauty look. Using incorrect brushes can lead to visible lines of demarcation where color stops, starts or changes and a makeup application that looks painted on, much like a mask.
A makeup brush consists of three parts:
- Hair: there are two types of hair used in makeup brushes: synthetic and natural hair
- Ferrule: the metal part of the brush that attaches glued bristles to the handle. Look for brushes that have a seamless ferrule and are tightly attached to the handle. The best makeup brushes have ferrules that are seamless and have a double crimp ring around the ferrule.
- Handle: Handle material varies with wooden handles being the least sturdy as they are quick to absorb water and chemicals from brush cleaners which can lead to breakage. Look for handles that are metal, acrylic or plastic for a longer usage life.
Natural hair makeup brushes are made from a variety of animal hair types including goat, squirrel, pony, sable, boar and raccoon hair. Natural hair brushes are the best option for application of powder makeup products due to the outer layer (cuticle) that picks up and deposits a heavier amount of product than a synthetic bristle brush. With good sanitation practices, natural hair bristle brushes become softer over time and typically last longer than synthetic bristle makeup brushes.
Synthetic bristles are usually made from taklon or nylon and unlike natural hair bristles, are non-absorbent making them the best choice for applying liquid or cream makeup products. Synthetic bristles tend to become more stiff and prickly to the skin over time and therefore do not have the lifespan of a natural hair makeup brush.
Professional makeup artists should sterilize makeup brushes between clients using an antimicrobial brush cleaner. Makeup brushes should also be deep cleaned each evening using baby shampoo, clarifying shampoo or for synthetic brushes, an antibacterial cleansing product that can remove stubborn oils from the bristles.
Personal brushes require less frequent deep cleansing, and is based on usage and condition of skin. For skin that is prone to breakouts, it is important to clean brushes after each use with an antimicrobial cleanser to prevent spreading bacteria from breakout to other areas of the skin. In many cases, dirty makeup brushes are the cause of chronic acne, an issue that is easily avoided by using proper sanitation and cleaning practices after use.
Recommended antimicrobial brush cleansers Brush Off or Parian Spirit
Items needed to deep clean makeup brushes
- Baby shampoo, clarifying shampoo, bar of gentle soap (dove or ivory), or antibacterial soap for synthetic brushes used for cream and liquid products.
- Small bowl for shampoo or detergent, if applicable
- Running water
Directions: Wet makeup brush under warm, running water (carefully, do not allow water to get in the ferrule of the brush) Dip tips of brush into shampoo or detergent then massage into bristles. Rinse under running water until water runs clear. (do not allow water into the ferrule of the brush). Gentle squeeze bristles to remove excess water and lay on edge of counter to dry.
If using bar soap, simply massage dampened bristles against a bar of soap, using circular motions. Follow rinsing and drying instructions outline above.
Tools that can make brush cleaning a breeze are Benjabelle Daisy Brush Tree and Sigma Brush Cleaning Glove
DIY brush cleaner YouTube
How to deep clean makeup brushes