Typically, for powder brushes, I recommend deep cleansing at least once a week. For foundation and concealer brushes, or really any brush that is used to apply liquid or cream products, I recommend deep cleansing after every use. Liquid and cream products are more likely to trap bacteria than powder products. When dirty brushes are applied to the face over and over again, they will spread dirt and bacteria, and can be a major cause of breakouts!
To begin, I always lay out paper towels, simply as a holding place for my brushes before they are hung to dry. Then, I section out my brushes based on use. There is no particular reason for this, I just find it easier to manage that way.
Extra virgin olive oil is the key to cleaning your brushes. Many people are scared of the word "oil." However, extra virgin olive oil has so many amazing uses, including being an amazing brush cleanser! It helps to break down even the toughest product buildup, as well as condition your brushes.
I've had this bottle for at least a year now, and still have plenty left. You can buy huge bottles of this in any grocery store, ranging in price from $3 to $20, depending on the size and quality. The bottle I have is from Costco, and has also been used for cooking. It has been very well loved.
I take just a little bit in my hand, and swirl in one brush at a time. You will instantly begin to see product coming out into the oil. I like to squeeze the bristles to try to get more product out of the brushes, but keep in mind, squeeze, don't wring. Don't twist the bristles to get the excess oil out. Squeeze, almost like you would a toothpaste tube.
I usually repeat this with five or so brushes before moving onto the next step.
Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap is a "pure-castile" soap, which means that it is a vegetable oil-based soap. Again, here's that "oil" word. However, this soap cleans so deeply yet gently, and because of the organic oils, it doesn't strip the brush hairs of the oils they need to stay soft. No one likes prickly bristles on their face, especially around the delicate eye area! The soap I use is the Baby Mild Liquid Soap, and ranges in price from $3 to $60. My 16 oz bottle cost about $10 at my local Sprouts Market! You can use this locator on their website to find a bottle near you. Their website is fascinating, and talks all about the products and why they work. The best part is, there are absolutely no harsh detergents in this soap, making it safe for use just about anywhere. You can even use it to brush your teeth!
Anyway, enough blabbing about this product. The cool thing is that you only need a couple of drops to cover quite a few brushes. This stuff is potent. Again, just swirl your brush around in the soap, and rinse in warm water until you are no longer seeing suds.
Quick Tip: Make sure to avoid getting water above the ferrule. The ferrule is the metal piece that connects the bristles to the handle. Getting water into the ferrule can cause the wood to warp, or the glue to decay, both of which will lead to broken brushes.
From here, I lay my brushes flat on the paper towels to soak up the excess water before moving onto my next bunch of brushes. You can always stop here, but there is still a chance of water leaking into the ferrule and ruining your brushes. To prevent this, you can always purchase a brush drying rack. Or, you can make you own with some clothespins and a hanger!
To create your own brush drying rack, you will need clothespins, a wire flexible hanger, and a safe place to hang your brushes. You can also use chip clips, but wooden clothespins are so cheap and easy to get a hold of! I got mine in a pack of 50 at Target for $1.79.
Assembling this drying rack is so quick and easy! First, I twisted the top of the hanger, so that the hanger would be parallel to the wall my brushes will be hanging near. I chose to hang my brushes on a towel bar in my bathroom, which sits about 3 to 4 inches away from the wall.
Next, add the clothes pins! Face the mouth of the clothespin downward, and attach it to the hanger. You can add as many as you like, but I generally like to keep at least an inch between each brush. Then, place the brush handle into the mouth of the clothespin! You should be left with a little something like this:
Keep in mind that this may not work for brushes with thicker handles. For example, the clothespins were not big enough for my Real Techniques Expert Face Brush. If you have any larger-handled brushes, I suggest using chip clips instead. This works really well for kabuki brushes! Hanging your brushes upside down will also speed up the drying process, all thanks to gravity.
Now, before you use your brushes, you need to make sure that they are sanitized. I like to use tea tree oil to sanitize my brushes. Tea tree oil is an essential oil that is poisonous to ingest, so do NOT eat it, and do not get it in your eyes! I can tell you from personal experience that tea tree oil in your eyes is extremely painful. However, when diluted with purified water, it has been used for many different cosmetic purposes. In fact, my beloved Cosmetic Warrior mask from Lush contains tea tree oil! I purchased mine at Target, but it can also be picked up at your local drug store.
Tea tree oil is known for its antibacterial properties, but because it is an essential oil, it will not dry out your brush hairs like an alcohol-based antiseptic would.
To create your tea tree oil brush disinfectant, you will need a small spray bottle. You can pick one up at just about any drug store. I suggest checking the travel section. Fill your bottle with purified water. The rule of thumb for creating this disinfectant is, know how many ounces your bottle contains! For each ounce of water, add one drop of tea tree oil. Only one drop per ounce, meaning, if you have an 8 oz bottle, only use 8 drops.
After you have properly filled your spray bottle, close it tightly and shake. Mist the mixture onto your bristles and you're ready to use your freshly cleaned brushes!