Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Mortem's Apothecarium: The Hair On Your Brushes Need Some Attention.

Since I have been painting with watercolors I've been going through cleaning solvent like crazy. I have been using makeup cleaner on my watercolor brushes because watercolor paints have a fairly similar chemical makeup as well... make up lol, and the bristles on watercolor brushes are typically the same quality as a makeup brush, some are even made with real fur.
They require the exact same care... but even for the cheapest cleaning solution ($3 for ELF 2 fl oz), it's not quite the best frugal choice. It doesn't smell that great either... but that has nothing to do with its effectiveness, heh.

Back in 2013 I wrote a review about a beauty blender knockoff as they hit the wider makeup world (which is people like me who are not MUA's and not quite enthusiasts either hah!). In it I linked a video for a recipe to clean your brushes and sponges alike using dish soap and olive oil... it was impressive at the time because I didn't know better, I admit that. Indeed, the combination left a residue that compounded and left the brushes smelling nice, but unable to feather product because of that ickiness that later developed.

Since that revelation, for a couple years now, I've been using a recipe that I found through a youtube MAU named EnKoreMakeup (<---link to video); so far it is the best recipe I've used for cleaning my brushes. It's very effective; gentle even on my kolinsky sables, cheap, and smells quite amazing depending on the dish soap and leave-in conditioner used. I've noticed a significant drop in incidents of skin breakouts since cleaning my makeup brushes with this, so I know its been disinfecting properly-- plus they're always so fluffy and new looking after they're dry.

One batch makes quite a lot, and the ingredients are likely already on hand.

Rubbing Alcohol, dish soap, shampoo/body wash, leave-in conditioner.

Since I've juuust ran out of my spray detangler/leave-in, I used one of my cream/lotion type ones instead. I also substituted the shampoo for this gentle body wash because it smells of roses and my shampoo is tea tree which I am not entirely fond of the smell of, hehe.

I added something a little different to this batch. Since I have a few specialized things because of my soap making supplies, I decided to add in a little pre-mixed fragrance oil especially for these products. I bought this "love spell" mix from Hobby Lobby.

Oils are best added in first to a liquid mixture then the alcohol right after, so that it mixes properly in the solution.
This stuff is potent and it pours out really quick; I didn't know it at the time and it just flowed into my mix too fast for me to really say how much went in lol... so for the batch that EnKore has laid out, I added roughly 15 drops, I think. It's too strong-- oops.

A good rule of thumb with fragrance oils is less is more lol; 3-6 is more than sufficient, and probably better added with a pipette than the dropper it comes with.

Since he didn't lay out a written recipe on his video's description, I will take it upon myself to do it for those that can't for whatever reason view the video-- he states half tbsp, but tsp seemed more accurate:
  • 1 cup of distilled or bottled water
  • 1/4 cup of 90% isopropyl alcohol (a.k.a. rubbing alcohol)
  • 1 1/2 tsp Dish soap
  • 1 1/2 tsp Shampoo
  • 1 1/2 tsp Spray Leave-in Conditioner.
  • *Extra: 3-6 drops fragrance oil for soaps*
*If you're using a fragrance oil, remember to add it in first, then the isopropyl alcohol-- stir till both ingredients are properly combined.
Gently mix the rest of the ingredients, stir, and pour into your bottle. When using the solution, you'll notice this stuff doesn't lather copiously so it goes without saying that you must rinse thoroughly to make sure you've got it all out.

The most effective way of cleaning a brush is to then use a surface other than your hand; things like the brush cleaning mats and mitts all over the market come to mind. I use a little cellulite massager I found on ebay a long time ago now.

Nowadays you can find really cheap brush cleaning surfaces, even DIY ones, just as easily as you would find the beauty blender dupes lol.

My own method of hanging my brushes to dry is less elaborate than some of the DIY's I've seen; fairly indicative that you're dealing with a sewist foremost lol...

Behold, my spare-thread-rack-brush-drying-contraption... heheh!
Took some rubber bands and looped them onto the brushes in a manner that I could then hook them onto the rack.

I don't know if this is the end all be all of cleaning solutions for me, but for the past couple years its been very good and nothing yet has been able to overthrow it.


  1. Oh wow, I didn't know any of this! Then again I don't really have any fancy Brushes, just cheap ones!

  2. I wash my makeup brushes with my hair soap. Leaves no residue and they blend like a charm!


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