Wash your make-up brushes you dirty b**ch!

Make-up Artist and Lecturer Nina Harper takes us through her instructions to get your make-up bag leaner and cleaner for Spring/Summer!

Before I start a make-up lesson with a client, I always go through the contents of their make-up bag and help them to identify what items they need to throw, what they should keep and how to clean and care for the good stuff they have. Spring is the perfect time to do this as our make-up routine and therefore some of our products should be switched with the seasons. Clean use and storage not only lengthens the shelf life of your make-up products and tools, but it also minimises the cross contamination of bacteria that can lead to at best; minor skin problemsand at worst skin infections. This is especially true of the tools you use to apply your make-up each day.

  1. Throw away your orange egg (and that goes for any other over used disposable!

Now I love these dome shaped, crazy coloured sponges, they blend foundation beautifully and are shaped to perfectly work the contours the face. Their popularity is evident to me, from both the presence of them in nearly every make-up bag I see and also from the teenagers I teach. The latter are horrified when I prohibit the use of these eggs to apply foundation on each other because here lies the problem; you cannot clean these dense sponges efficiently enough to rid them of the foundation products that settle in and begin to cultivate bacteria. These sponges were designed to absorb water in order to create a smoother blend of product but they also suck your liquid foundation into their core. This is a perfect breeding ground for the bacteria that can then get into open pores or broken skin and cause spots and infection (acne and rosacea sufferers please take heed). Think of it like this; the foundation you applied last week will mix with the foundation you apply today and amounts of both will be transferred onto your skin.

How are you going to live without your egg? Well, if you have money to burn, you don’t need to, just buy lots and replace them often or, use the sponges I was trained with, the olden but golden disposable wedges that you can buy by the bucket load, or invest in a good foundation brush that can and should be washed frequently.

  1. Wash your brushes you dirty b….!

Is actually something I said to a friend recently when I spotted her sad collection of make-up brushes in an old mug on a beautiful dressing table. The foundation brush was thick with brown grease (this is essentially what make-up is), her bronzing brush was flailed out like a dusty circular wheel and the whole collection was sat in an old mug attracting the dust particles that she proudly swiped from her dressing table surface and perfume bottles every day. For bacteria growing in old foundation (please see throw away your orange egg) and for rubbing greasy dust into your face daily (please see a doctor). Luckily I was there to save the day and we set about mission brush clean. All we needed was some household products (see table) and half an hour. Here’s what we did:

  • With your choice of soap (washing up liquid is best for lipsticks and heavier foundations) and warm water swirl the bristles of the brush in the palm of your hand.
  • Once the suds have run clean, quickly rinse and place in a cool bowl of diluted disinfectant (try and keep the handles out of it)
  • Repeat for all brushes until you have a bowl of upside down brushes.
  • After ten minutes, remove and rinse thoroughly under a cool tap squeezing out any remaining bubbles.
  • Towel dry handles, massage bristles back into shape, lay flat on a clean towel and leave overnight in a dry non humid room.

Storage choices for your brushes have to be practical and if you do have them out on the top then you should probably clean them like this more than the recommended monthly wash. Better options would include a drawer or cupboard in a dry room (so not the bathroom obvs). Look after them like this and a good quality set should not need to be replaced for years.

Out of the bag and into the bin!

Is not always what clients want to hear when I assault their make-up bag and I never say it lightly. However, before I even look at what make-up may or may not work for the client, I always get the non-negotiable out of the bag and into the bin products out of the way. For me, these are; anything with a film over the surface; you will find this on old or compromised cake eyeshadows, blushers and bronzers; any foundations or liquid products that have separated; anything that is crumbling and anything that smells odd or you have no memory of buying. All of these have to go.

Containers that are half empty or are broken but are housing healthy products can be transferred into smaller travel sized bottles or lidded dishes. Cream and liquid based products like foundation and lipstick are examples of these. And usually all containers, new or old need a wipe over now and then to save your make-up bag from that familiar rainbow interior that often leads to the make-up bag going in the bin!

I will leave you with my opinion on make-up storage:

  • Keep it clean; empty contents and wash at the same time as you wash your brushes.
  • Keep it clear: PVC bags and boxes allow you to see and access your products more easily
  • Keep it dry: don’t store make-up in the bathroom as moisture will ruin most makeup formulas
  • Keep it dark: sunlight will change the colour of your foundation
SharpLifeWash your make-up brushes you dirty b**ch!

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