Removing Your Makeup: The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Complexion


Aug 17, 2005 (Updated Jun 17, 2012)


The Bottom Line Beware: This essay will sound bossy!

The one beauty tip everyone agrees on: remove all your makeup at night. Failure to do so will result in zits and wrinkles and dirty pillowcases. And who wants any of that? 

One reason I felt compelled to write up this advice essay is because so many women review their cleansers by noting how well it removes makeup.  In addition, it seems very routine for a lot of women to wipe their faces with toner after cleansing to make sure to get everything off.  Or worse, even after washing their faces with cleanser, people report that makeup is still being rubbed off on their towels.

Ugh. Gross.

Aside from the unpleasantness of a dirty towel, what this really means is that your skin isn't really clean.  And that's exactly what causes zits and stuff.

Instead of relying on toners or messing up your towels, I think it's always a better idea to take an extra step to remove your makeup with a dedicated makeup remover before using your cleanser.

Why are so many ladies confused?  I blame this confusion partly on Paula Begoun, who claimed in the earlier editions of her book that you don't need a separate makeup remover, and a good water-soluble cleanser should remove everything.  She further claims that makeup removers are a scam, and even bad for you.

Her reasons:
- This is because your eye area is delicate. (True.)
- Using a cotton ball remover causes friction. (WHAT?!?)
- She goes on to say that you should only need water soluble cleanser to remove your eye makeup. (I have found this to NOT be true.)
- BUT - then she admits that cleanser doesn't clean all types of eye makeup thoroughly. (So ...)
- THEN - she recommends that after cleansing, you rub the makeup residue off with toner, or to use a diaper wipe, OR to wash your face with a creamy eye makeup remover. (... WHAT?!?!?)

So Paula says you don't need eye makeup remover ... except that you do. Basically, she recommends that you cleanse your face, and then remove your makeup.  I mean, seriously - she says makeup removers are a scam, then she actually advises that you wash your face, then wash it AGAIN using makeup remover.  That makes no sense!

(I believe she has since changed her opinion, because she now sells eye-makeup remover on her site.  Ugh. That's crazy Paula for you.)

Anyway, you really need a two-step cleansing routine if you wear makeup or sunscreen on a regular basis.  And those two steps are (1) remove makeup first, (2) then cleanse.

Topic #1: Eye Makeup Removers

If you wear any eye makeup, eye makeup remover is a necessity, because your eyes are typically the most sensitive part of your face. And yet your eye makeup tends to be the tackiest thing you put on your face.

You really want to make sure you remove all your eye makeup before you sleep.  Because at best you wake up with puffy eyes in the morning, and at worst, you can get a stye, or worse, an infection. Yucky! So you want something gentle but also removes all the makeup well. And a good eye makeup remover will also remove just about any other type of makeup.

There are generally two types of eye makeup removers: oil-based and soap-based. It's very important to understand the difference between the two.  Your average soap-based remover will remove some powder-based eye makeup. But you will need an oil-based remover to break down waterproof eye makeup, especially waterproof mascara.

The other reason I felt compelled to write this essay is because I think there's a lot of confusion about this issue, too.  I have read an awful lot of misguided reviews on soap-based removers (complaining about it failing to remove their mascara) and oil-based removers (complaining about it feeling too oily).

I blame this confusion again, partly on Paula Begoun, who notoriously claims in her book that L'Oreal and Lancome are subsidiaries of the same corp. and therefore their products are the same. So women have been believing that Lancome's popular Bi-Facil Remover and L'Oreal Refreshing Eye Makeup Remover are similar products, because they are both in blue bottles.

And this confusion has led many ladies down the wrong path.  Just to prove my point, here are some recent reviews on the L'Oreal remover I found on www.makeupalley.com:

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roroluca on 12/1/2008 9:46:00 PM
This took off my Lorac eye shadows and Anastasia brow powder well but it was a huge disappointment for my eye liner (revlon colorstay). I lined my upper lash line and this make up remover could NOT remove the eyeliner! And I had only been wearing the eyeliner for 1 or 2 hrs!

productjunkie1024 on 6/9/2008 11:41:00 PM
NO. No no no! This was highly disappointing. It smells like bubble solution, ya know, the stuff you used to dip a blow wand into and make bubbles with. FEELS like it, too. It seriously does NOT remove makeup well. Got eyeliner on your waterline? Forget this stuff! It stings quite uncomfortably when it makes contact with the eye. I've "accidentally" spilled this stuff conveniently down the drain (LOL), and good because I cannot wait to replace it O=]. What a waste of money! Stay away. >=|!

--

There are many more reviews that sound just like this.  So many ladies out there are disappointed by this soap-based remover because it doesn't remove their waterproof makeup properly. They clearly don't understand the difference between the soap-based removers and the oil-based removers.

And most ladies these days wear at least some kind of waterproof or water-resistant eye makeup, whether it's eyeliner, or mascara. That's just the way most eye makeup is formulated these days. No one wants raccoon eyes!

Reading reviews like this ticks me off because Paula has spread so much misinformation.  It's ironic because Paula is always telling people to pay attention to ingredients and know what they do (which I agree with), but she herself doesn't know what they do (which is my problem with her).

In the meantime, you have many ladies scrubbing at their eyes with the wrong remover, or their cleanser, and then writing angry reviews complaining about their stinging eyeballs.

So what is the right product?  Oil.

Oil in general is a great makeup solvent.  So any oil-based product you have will work very well.  They will break down your toughest makeup easily without rubbing off the top layer of your skin.  So if you use an oil-based cleanser (e.g., Albolene, Pond's cold cream, etc.) these will work great.  This is why you see countless scenes in movies where women slather their faces with cold cream at the end of the day.

I know some people are repelled by the thought of rubbing oil onto your face, especially when so much of skincare is centered around the elimination of oil. But oil on your skin isn't bad for you.  And the alternative is trying to work your makeup off with soap and friction, and not only is that not going to be effective, that just isn't good for your skin, especially around your eyes.

Over the years, I've dabbled with several drugstore brands of liquid eye makeup removers, and have found them all very adequate - as long as you understand the difference between soap-based and oil-based.

A quick overview:

Soap-based:
- Maybelline Expert Eyes (with a blue cap) is a good soap-based product.
- So is the aforementioned L'Oreal Refreshing Eye Makeup Remover.

But know their limitations!

Oil-based:
- Almay Dual-Phase (in the pink bottle) is an okay oil-based product (despite being a dual-phase product, it contains mineral oil).
- There is also Maybelline Expert Touch (with a pink cap), which is really just straight mineral oil with a few other ingredients like fragrance and lanolin.

These removers will work well at removing any type of makeup.

Silicone-based Dual-Phase Removers:
A silicone-based "dual-phase" remover sold at drugstores is Neutrogena Oil Free Eye Makeup Remover, which is a true dual-phase silicone-based remover (i.e., does not contain oil.)

It does a good job removing the toughest mascara, but also feels lighter than mineral oil. (FYI, this is the product that is comparable to Lancome Bi-Facil. At about $6-9 a bottle, it is a fraction of the price of Bi-Facil, making it a great buy.)

Another nice dual-phase remover is Boots Botanical, which is available at Target.

Does this remover work as well as a remover that contains oil?  I previously wrote that it does, but I've found that when it comes to waterproof mascara, it doesn't quite melt it off as easily as an oil-based product does.  Instead of dissolving the makeup like an oil would, the silicones just provide a very slippery environment so that the makeup can be rubbed off with less friction. A bottle of the Neutrogena will serve most needs, and it will remove that waterproof mascara.  But nothing seems to beat the makeup-melting power of oil.

But instead of buying remover from the drugstore, there are even cheaper alternatives. As I mentioned above, a bottle of baby oil will always do the job. So will many other products that contain mineral oil, e.g., Pond's cold cream, Albolene, etc. You can even use olive oil, jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, grapeseed oil, coconut oil, Vaseline, which are all great alternatives if you happen to have these products already, and don't want to buy a separate product.

The good thing about an effective eye makeup remover is that it will remove just about anything else - such as lipstick and non-transferable lip color. A good eye makeup remover and a cotton ball/pad will take care of it all.

So taking account of everything I've said so far, Neutrogena Oil Free Eye Makeup Remover is probably the best remover you can buy, considering cost and efficacy.  It will remove everything, but leave behind the least amount of residue.  Everything you need in one bottle, and you won't pay as much as for Lancome or other department store brands (which all work very well, too).

But you know what?  There is an even more awesome option available.  So read on.

*~* Cleansing Oils: A Godsend, But Elusive *~*

In my experience, cleansing oil is the best product for removing every trace of makeup from your face gently, and it leaves behind virtually no residue.

Cleansing oils have been a staple of the Asian skin care regimen for a very long time, but have yet to become a mainstream product in the U.S. Which is too bad, because when it comes to removing makeup, cleansing oil is simply the best.

First of all, it's oil. Since it's oil, it will break down and melt away just about anything you've painted your face with, with as little friction as possible. You rub it onto your dry skin with your dry hands.  It will feel a bit like you're smearing cooking oil all over your face. Sounds gross, right?

But cleansing oil contains emulsifiers that make it rinse clean from your face with water. At first contact with water, it immediately turns into a milky-white liquid and just rinses away. It's like magic! It's awesome.

Another wonderful benefit of cleansing oils is that it allegedly helps dissolve blackheads.  Basically, massaging your pores with cleansing oil will help break down the sebum inside, and help it become emulsified along with the cleansing oil and rinsed away.  So ladies who've discovered cleansing oils use it to massage the extra-oily spots on their skin during their daily use.

How To Use Cleansing Oils

To use cleansing oil, you must make sure your face and hands are dry. (Water will emulsify and neutralize it, so it won't dissolve makeup properly.) Gently massage a small amount into your skin - they usually come in a pump bottle, so one or two pumps should do it.  Because it's oil, it will dissolve every trace of your tackiest makeup, including waterproof eye makeup. Seriously, this stuff will remove clown makeup. In fact, it will remove all the soot from your face after a day of coal-mining.

And then rinse! Ta-da! Clean face in one step. And you've removed all of it as gently as possible.  (And since cleansing oil will also remove eye makeup as well - yes, even the ultra-tacky stuff, you won't even need separate eye makeup remover. So you can ignore the first half of this essay!)

While cleansing oil hasn't become very commonplace in the U.S. yet, MAC makes one now. Very exciting! Other brands that make cleansing oil are DHC, FANCL, Kose, and Shu Uemura (all Japanese brands - Shu Uemura invented them).

You can buy the Japanese stuff online. But unfortunately (until MAC began selling it) finding cleansing oil at your local mall was basically impossible. It's just not available. You couldn't find any such thing at a department store. And I recently asked about cleansing oil at my local Sephora, and was met with blank stares. Even though Sephora sells some Shu Uemura stuff, and even some Boscia (FANCL) stuff, they didn't sell any of their cleansing oils at their stores.

Cleansing Oils: A Conspiracy?

When I read Japanese and Korean beauty magazines, they always have a lot of ads and articles about cleansing oils. But what is really surprising is that a lot of cleansing oils in these magazines are made by brands that are very common in the U.S.!!! E.g., Lancome, Stila, Neutrogena, and even Ponds. How come these products are not sold in America?

It is downright tragic that the average American consumer is robbed of the opportunity to use such a fantastic product. Is this some "ancient Asian secret?" And aren't Stila, Neutrogena and Ponds products made by American companies?

Anyway, I felt compelled to alert you to this great cosmetic injustice wrought upon women in America, and to tell you: cleansing oils are great stuff. Go seek it out if you have the means. It won't be easy, but it's worth the effort.

I've been wondering for a while why this is. This is such a wonderful product, and many U.S. women just don't seem to know about it. But based on a few conversation with ladies not from the U.S., it seems that American women are basically petrified of putting oil on their skin. Because they're always trying to get rid of oil, they don't understand that some oils are beneficial. Interesting theory, and I think they may be right.

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ETA: Since I wrote this review over 3 years ago, I've learned that Sephora sells cleansing oils now!  You can buy Boscia and philosophy.  Yes! 

And at your department store, you can probably find MAC, Lancome, and Origins.

I also did a quick beauty.com search right now, and discovered that they sell cleansing oils too!  Decleor!  L'Occitane!  Origins!

I've also learned that you can buy cleansing oil at CVS!  Lumene cleansing oil!  At your local CVS!  (Okay, it's only one, but it's a start.)

[A couple more products I want to mention (but haven't tried myself) - I've discovered that there are cleansing-oil-like products available in gel or cream form.  They essentially work in the same way - rub onto your skin to dissolve makeup, and it emulsifies when you rinse with water.  They are Clinique Take the Day Off Balm, and Clarins Pure Melt Gel.  I'm very eager to try them, and will update my essay when I do.]

Cleansing oils are still awesome, and I'm glad to know that it's more widely available now in the U.S.  No more "ancient Asian secret!"
--------------

Which Cleansing Oil To Use

Well, there is always the aforementioned MAC cleansing oil, which as far as I know, is the only cleansing oil you can get currently buy at a department store. Which isn't bad, since MAC is a good brand, so I'm sure it's a good product. But that's only one, and that will have to do for the time being. The other option is to order it online: most of the brands I mentioned have their own websites. Also, the Kose Seikisho Cleansing Oil ($28.00) is available at Drugstore.com.

I usually buy my cleansing oil at my local Asian grocery store, where you can find cheaper lines of Japan's high-end brands. These are some of the ones I've used:

Kanebo Naive - $6.49 (6 oz.)
Kose Softymo - $8.99 (6 oz.)
Shiseido Perfect Oil - $10.99 (5 oz.)
Pola Celdie - About $12

[These are prices at my local store, and they may vary.]

The cheaper stuff is pretty great.  I like them very much and have used them for years. The main difference between the cheaper stuff and the more expensive stuff seems to be that the cheaper stuff contains mineral oil, while the expensive stuff sometimes do not.  Mineral oil is an inexpensive ingredient.  It's also pretty heavy, and I think some people might be concerned that it clogs pores.  Luckily, I've had no trouble with mineral oil based cleansing oils at all - it always rinses off completely for me.

However, I recently switched to a cleansing oil made by a Korean company called The Face Shop (the product is called Migamsu, and is made with rice bran oil) and I'm pretty happy with it.  It's free of mineral oil, and it's very light.

If you have the means to visit an Asian grocery or cosmetics store, I highly recommend that you try one.

Conclusion:

So to remove your makeup, there's SOAP, and then there's OIL. But soap-based removers won't remove everything, and oil will remove everything, but leave you greasy.  But I think oil is a somewhat necessary evil if you wear waterproof makeup.  Knowing this basic principle, I think, will clear up a LOT of misunderstandings.

But also be aware of silicone-based eye makeup removers (Lancome Bi-Facil, Neutrogena, Boots) - they will remove your thickest mascara without feeling too heavy or greasy.

But best of all, a good cleansing oil will melt away the all of your makeup (including your eye makeup) without leaving behind any oily residue. They may even help minimize blackheads. The best solution.

One Last Thing:

The one major category of makeup removers that I didn't cover are pre-moistened towellettes or pre-moistened eye-makeup remover pads.  The reason is - I don't really use them.  Because:

(1) They are very expensive.  Currently at CVS - Neutrogena eye makeup remover pads are $7.99 for 30 pads.  Neutrogena Make-Up Remover Cleansing Towelettes are $7.99 for 25 sheets.

So I would be spending $8/month, at least.  A bottle of Neutrogena remover, on the other hand, costs about the same and would last me several months.  Same goes for a bottle of cleansing oil.

(2) Even if the pads themselves are pretty soft, ultimately, you're still relying on friction to scrub the makeup off.  Pre-moistened wipes are usually rougher on your skin than cotton balls/pads.

(3) Disposable products are not the most eco-friendly choice.

So these remover wipes are fine.  They're convenient for traveling, and great for fixing up sections when you're freshening up or re-doing your makeup.  And they can be a godsend if you don't have running water.  But I think they are too costly to be worthwhile for daily routines, less effective than any good makeup solvent I recommend, and rougher on your skin.

So to Sum Up:

- Soap-based removers are fine.  They leave no oily residue.  But know their limitations, and don't use them to try and scrub away your waterproof eye makeup.

- Oil-based removers are nice, because they will remove everything.  But they can leave behind residue.  And they don't work better than a bottle of baby oil, or olive oil from your kitchen, which are much cheaper.

- Silicone-based dual-phase removers are pretty nice.  These will also remove everything, and leave behind less residue than the oil-based.  My recommendations are Neutrogena or Boots Botanical which is available at Target.

- Cleansing oils are the best.  It will melt everything off your face, and rinse away clean.  Just plain awesome.  Only problem: not widely available.

So my suggestion is: if you're shopping at a drugstore, cleansing oils are scarce.  So your best bet is a silicone-based remover, and the Neutrogena one is a good one.

On the other hand, department stores (Lancome & Mac), Sephora, and your local Asian grocery or cosmetics stores will probably have cleansing oils, which is my choice for the most effective, and the most gentle makeup removal.

And finally ... as I said in the beginning of the review - I still believe that a two-step cleansing process is a must if you wear makeup.  Use a remover to remove the makeup, and then use your regular cleanser to thoroughly cleanse the face, which is someting you should do anyway.  I mean, don't you have to wash your face?

So use a remover to remove the eye & lip makeup, and make sure that you are using the right type.  And then cleanse your face using your regular cleanser.  This should elminate all of the following too-common complaints:

- stinging eyes
- oily residue
- complaints about face cleansers not removing makeup well

The two-step process will make sure that you will have a sparkling clean face, and that you will have cleaned it as gently as possible.  No scrubbing, no stinging, and nothing left behind.  Now you won't end up having to re-clean your face with toner, or end up with smudgy towels.

And best of all, you will minimize potential skin problems.


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*~* How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes *~*

I wanted to add a section on tips for cleaning your makeup brushes.  It's very important to keep your brushes clean!  A dirty brush will not apply makeup as well.  And it's going to get all germy, which will lead to irritation and blemishes.  Not pretty.

What I Use:

- baby shampoo that *doesn't contain sulfates* (e.g., California Baby)
- eco-friendly dish soap that *doesn't contain sulfates*
- soap-based makeup remover
- commercial brush cleanser (many brands - MAC, Shu Uemura, etc.)

Did you read that right? Dish soap? Yeap, you read that right.

I've discovered that certain brands of eco-friendly dish soaps are formulated to be very gentle and rinse clean. They are excellent products for their intended purposes, but also work perfectly for cleaning makeup brushes.

For example: Planet dish soap only has three ingredients: coconut-oil based cleanser, salt and baking soda. Biokleen is also an excellent choice for brush-cleaning. If you try washing your hands with them, you will see how gentle they are, and how easily they rinse off completely.

Previously, I suggested using Johnson's baby shampoo, as many people do. But I've since discovered that it does not rinse completely. It's a cheap and caustic. But I'm so glad that more gentle, eco-friendly products are becoming available. So if possible, use them to clean your brushes instead of the harsh stuff.

I use California Baby brand to wash a baby with. And it happens to be excellent for cleaning brushes with. But it's also expensive. So I think using something cheaper like Planet or Biokleen dish soap is a better idea. Also, I think the coconut-oil based cleansers in those soaps does an excellent job removing makeup. It just melts it away, but is so gentle. It's really perfect for this job.

Previously, I also suggested the use of a homemade brush-cleaning recipe I found online. I've since decided that it's not so great, because it contains rubbing alcohol. I've discovered that rubbing alcohol really dries out natural hair brushes, so I wouldn't recommend it, at least not for natural hair brushes.

In addition, I found a brush cleaning video online that I want to comment on, by the very popular YouTube guru Michelle Phan:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVdciJkmb7o

First of all, I just love Michelle. I think she is amazing, beautiful, and talented. I also know she has her share of haters. So I want to clarify that I'm not a jealous hater just out out bash her.

But this video is pretty insane! In it, she pours antibacterial dish soap on a plate, adds olive oil, and then mashes her brush into the plate. This is how she cleans her oil-painting brushes, and also her makeup brushes.

Believe it or not, I have tried this, and it completely ruined my makeup brush. Oil got into the ferrule, and dissolved the glue inside - the bristled shed in chunks afterwards, and I had to toss it. While you need to be careful to not let water get into the ferrule, oil is the worst, because it doesn't dry, you can't wash it out, and it dissolves the glue.

Brush types: Foundation, Powder, Blush (The Big Brushes)

Here's how I *used to* clean my brushes - I would put a bit of hand-soap or baby shampoo in the palm of my hand, wet the brush under the tap, stroke the bristles in my palm back-and-forth, work out the pigments with my fingers, and rinse.  Basically, I'm shampooing the brushes like I shampoo my hair.  Then I squeeze out the water, and lay it on its side to dry.

Out of all my "big" brushes, my foundation brushes get the dirtiest since they soak up liquid foundation all the time.  But cleaning them this way have got them looking and feeling quite clean. This works perfectly well.

But recently, I began cleaning my brushes in another way: I fill a cup with about 1-1.5 inches of water (just enough to immerse the bristles, but not much more) add a small squeeze of cleanser (e.g, Planet, Biokleen), and stir the water with the brush. (Make sure to just stir, and not mash the bristles into the bottom or sides of the cup.)

It seems so simple, and it boggles my mind why I haven't tried this before.  But stirring my big brushes in a cup of soapy water instead of "shampooing" them with my hands got them so much cleaner for some reason.  In fact, I stir-cleaned my foundation brushes after they've already been "shampooed" in the palm of my hand as usual, and so much more color came out in the cup!  The water became so cloudy (ewww!) I couldn't believe it.

Another way I could tell how effective this was - I use my Sonia Kashuk duo-fiber brush (the "skunk" brush) to apply my blush.  So the white tips of the brush are constantly stained with pink.  When I "shampooed" the brush in my hands, I had a hard time getting the tips completely white.  But when I stir-cleaned the brush, the tips got completely clean!

Two other advantages of this method -

(1)  I use less soap.  When I wash the brush in my palm, I usually use a full pump of soap.  But when I stir-clean, I use about half a pump, and it still does a better job.

(2) I use less water. Using a cup requires less time to run your faucet. Always a good thing.

(3)  Less friction and agitation involved.  If you clean a brush gently with your hands, it doesn't hurt it.  I've had some of my brushes for years, I've been cleaning them with my hands, and they still look great.  So there is no problem with that method.  But obviously, swirling them in water involves even less friction.

Other tips I've found online include rubbing the brushes in the palm of your hand (just like I've been doing), or rubbing them against a soapy sponge.  But through trian-and-error, I've found that when it comes to your "big" brushes, stir-cleaning them is the best ways to get them clean.  Give it a try!

(**) A link for a youtube video on how to stir-clean your brushes.  In this video, the videomaker uses a squirt of the MAC cleanser.  In my opinion, using a commercial cleanser is not necessary for this particular method.

Brush types: Eye Shadow/Liner, Lip (The Small Brushes)
 
With small brushes, the bristles tend to be denser and shorter.  And eye/lip makeup always has intense color, and can contain heavy waxes and oils.  So you end up with small brushes that are just packed with pigment.  Swirling them in soapy water is not going to be enough.

However, I've found that when I use the eco-friendly coconut-oil based liquid soaps to clean them in the palm of my hand, this dissolves all the pigment completely, and rinses cleanly. Love it.

For any super-stubborn bits of makeup, I've found that a dab of cleansing oil does a great job melting the makeup off your makeup brushes - just as it does on your skin.  You don't even need to use a lot of friction.  The cleansing oil just needs to make contact with the makeup stuck in your brush, and it just comes right off. I discovered this method after I got BB Cream stuck in my foundation brushes.  (BB creams have awesome staying power, but they can also leave a residue on your brushes.)

Commercial Brush Cleansers

I mentioned above that commercial brush cleansers aren't necessary if you plan on washing your big brushes with plenty of water.  But commercial brush cleansers are great for waterless "spot" cleaning.

To use them, you can do one of the following:

- Pour of small amount of the cleanser into a small cup or bowl, dip the bristles in, then gently blot the bristles onto a paper towel.

- Pour a small amount of the cleanser onto a paper or a cloth towel, and blot the bristles.

- Some cleansers come in a spray bottle, so you can just spray the bristles before blotting them with a towel.

The great thing about cleaning brushes this way is that the brush is almost completely dry by the end of the process, and is ready to use again much sooner than washing the brushes with water.  Many of the commercial cleansers are alcohol-based, which also helps the brushes dry faster.  (I've used the Shu Uemura cleanser, and it's very effective.  It gets out all the color really well.)  These types of brush cleansers are very helpful if you're a makeup artist or work at a makeup counter, and need to clean your brushes quickly between clients.

So using commercial cleansers are terrific for quick blot-cleaning.  If you don't have the time to thoroughly wash all your brushes with soap and water, spot-cleaning them is a good idea.

However, I think “deep-cleaning” your brushes regularly is necessary. Also, I think it’s easier (and cheaper) to just wash them with soap and water. And since I don’t usually use my brushes more than once a day, and most brushes dry completely overnight, it’s perfectly fine for me to just wash the brush and leave it to dry for my next use. So unless you’re a makeup artist, or do your makeup more than once a day, commercial brush cleaners are not necessary – one less thing to spend money on.

Other Tips:

- Make sure you never leave your brushes soaking in water, or get them wet past the ferrule (the metal base for the bristles).

- Always dry the brushes on their side.  I fold up a towel, and lay the brushes so their bristles are off the edge of the towel.

Summary:

- The "big" brushes are best cleaned by the stir-method.

- Try eco-friendly soaps without sulfates - I suggest the brand Planet or Biokleen which has a very simple ingredient list - gentle, effective, clean-rinsing

- Commercial cleansers are great for quick and effective waterless spot-cleaning. But otherwise, probably not necessary. The right kind of soap and water is enough for most people.

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(**) http://video.answers.com/how-to-clean-makeup-brushes-87912604
[MakeupEnvy - How to clean makeup brushes - shows how to stir-clean your big brushes]

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