Skin Deco

Friday, June 4, 2010

Brushes I Frequently Use + How I Wash My Brushes

It took me years (and many many brushes) to discover some of my favorites and I think I can finally share with you some brushes that I use almost every time I put makeup on.

Many of the other brushes that I own, I still like, but I can probably live without them. I guess the fact is, you really don't need that many brushes. Doesn't stop me from searching for more favorites though!

I've also put together a long overdue tutorial on how I wash my brushes.


Face (left to right):

Etude House Duo Fiber Cheek Brush
(RM39.90 -- up to 40% off during sale)
  • Who needs to fork out over a hundred Ringgit for a MAC 188 or 187 when you have this awesome brush? It's firm, dense enough and doesn't shed or bleed excessively. The size is in between a 188 and a 187 so it'll work great to stipple on liquid foundation, apply powder, blush, bronzer and everything else a duo fiber stippling brush can do. I mainly use this brush for blush and glow powders (eg. MAC Mineralize Skin Finish, Benefit Sugarbomb).
MAC 109 Small Contour Brush
(RM125? I don't know. Someone please help!)
  • I hate this brush for CONSTANTLY shedding. Come on, it's been a year! Stop shedding already! And it's not the softest brush in the world or my table. If I can chuck this appalling brush out, I would but it would mean giving up on a perfectly shaped and sized brush. You can apply practically any type of foundation with this brush. Liquid, cream, loose powder, pressed powder, mousse, cream-to-powder -- you name it. If you can ignore the mustache left behind by the brush, you'll get a streak-free finish. It's also great for contouring and buffing. *sighs* Damn this brush. Review here.
La Mei La Kabuki Brush
(RM39.90 -- bought from Blink on the first floor of Sungei Wang Plaza at 50% off but I don't think it's available anymore)
  • One of my most unexpected and yet best purchases ever. This is a synthetic kabuki brush and there's nothing I don't like about it except for the fact that I can't buy it anymore. Not that I need to because it's still in pristine condition but it also means that you can't, which is not good. It's soft, dense, doesn't shed, doesn't bleed and I love the handle. It's much easier to grip than regular kabuki brushes. I use this for loose powder, pressed powder and powder foundation (light coverage) as well as glow powder. Also awesome for buffing out over-applied blush.

Eyes (top to bottom):

Italian Badger Round Contour Brush
(I got this in the travel set. The long handled (~USD$3) one can be purchased from Coastal Scents or Crown Brushes)
  • One of the first brushes I've ever owned and still a favorite to this day. This is great for applying dark color into the outer corner and crease. It's soft and dense, doesn't shed and doesn't bleed.
Deluxe Eyeshadow Brush
(~USD$3. Can be purchased from Coastal Scents or Crown Brushes)
  • I use this strictly for applying highlight on the brow bone. This dense and slightly tapered brush blends as it applies the highlight color. I bought this because it was supposedly a dupe for MAC 227 brush but when I compared both brushes, I actually like this one better because it's a lot softer and I like that it's tapered. Review here.
Stila #30 Brush
(Bought this during the Stila close out sale. No longer available in Malaysia. USD$32 from
  • If I had discovered this brush earlier I wouldn't have to buy so many other eyeshadow brushes. The flat side is a medium sized eyeshadow brush that packs on color very well onto the lid and because the tip is slightly tapered, I can use this to apply color into the crease. The other side is a slim fluffy crease blending brush to blend eyeshadow on the outer corner and also the crease. It's a great fit for my Asian eyes. I'd probably go insane if I ever lose this brush. It's the perfect eyeshadow brush for me and I can create a complete look with eyeshadow using this brush and this brush alone. Review here.
Small Round Contour Brush
(USD$1.71. Can be purchased from Crown Brushes)
  • I love applying eyeshadow along my lower lash line because it really makes my eyes pop. This firm brush gets the job done. The size is perfect but it's quite scratchy. Still, a brush that I use very often. Review here.
elf Studio Small Smudge Brush
(USD$3 from elf)
  • Gel eyeliner brushes need not be expensive because they fray in no time. After years of making do with "on-pack" brushes, I finally found an inexpensive brush that I like for gel eyeliners. It's small and tapered so I can either apply my liner thinly or thickly. It also doesn't fray as easily as other brushes that I've used.
Bobbi Brown Eye Definer Brush
  • For my eyebrows I use both pencil and eyebrow powder frequently. If I'm using a pencil, this brush will be used to blend so that my brows won't look harsh. When using powder, I'll create the shape as well as fill in and blend with this brush. It's stiff without being hard and it has a pointed tip to help shape my brows precisely.
Brushes need to be washed frequently. The makeup build-up on the brushes attracts bacteria growth and may cause irritation to the skin when you use it. Also, the existing color of product on the brush may compromise the actual color that you're applying. For instance, you apply yellow eyeshadow with an uncleaned brush that previously applied blue eyeshadow and you'll get green. Well maintained brushes will have a longer life span too.

There are many types of washing agents that you can use to wash brushes but after experimenting with several types, I find that I prefer using a facial bar soap because it lets me control the amount of soap that I use and a soap lasts a lot longer.

Synthetic Brushes

I wet the brush then swipe it over the bar soap, lather, rinse and squeeze out the excess water.

Natural Hair Brushes

I pretty much do the same thing as with synthetic brushes except I lather more to really get the soap between the bristles and if I remember to, I will apply hair conditioner prior to rinsing.

Eyeshadow Brushes

Same thing, really. I'd draw on the soap until it doesn't produce any colored suds.


I massage in and soak my sponges with a tiny bit of dish washing detergent and some shampoo for about 15 to 20 minutes. After that, I lather the sponges up then rinse and squeeze dry.

Eyeliner Brushes

To remove the eyeliner residue, I squirt some cleansing oil onto a paper towel then draw on it until there's no more eyeliner on the brush. Then, I double cleanse with soap to remove any traces of oil. If you don't do this, the oil may affect the performance of your eyeliner.

I lay all of brushes on plain paper (printed on one side) to allow them to bleed (for some) and dry.


CY said...

But what about elf studio powder brush? :(

Sherry said...

I love the tips, hee.. I dont know can use facial bar soap.

Connie De Alwis said...

CY: I like it a lot but I don't use it very often because it's mainly for when I need full-coverage application of liquid foundation. Brushes that don't make this post does not mean that I don't like them!

Sherry: Why not? ;)

ning * star said...

connie, what is name of that big eco tool brush?
i heart eco tool brush

Connie De Alwis said...

Ning: It's the powder brush from the Eco Tools mineral brush set :)

xin said...

nice family photo! u wash them at one go? :P i sometimes lather soap on my palm and swirl the brushes on my palm. now i think it is better to swirl on the soap instead. thanks for idea!

Sherry said...

I have not try using facial soap before.

lyn said...

Excellent tips! I never thought of using a bar of soap! I must try this the next time I wash my brushes and sponges :-)

Hershley's Sweet Kiss Message! said...

Im loving this post! One of my FAVS!! Bar soap huh?? sounds great. I hate washing my brushes... I never wash them all together because it take 24 hours to fully dry! And it sucks not to have no brushes avaiable. The problem with that is that i never really have time to wash my brushes... LOL I can usually find the time to do it once every two weeks! UGH...Have u ever tried Sigma Make up Brushes??? I LOVE THEM, im about to write a review on the 12 complete set...PLEASE FOLLOW My BLOG! LATER!!

Fifi said...

Oh wow what a coincidence, I just washed my brushes today! I've never tried washing my brushes with bar soap though. I should try that next time. Great post! :D

cecobi said...


Goodness, i'm currently using the MAC 109 (RM 130)-for powder and Etude's House Duo Fiber Cheek Brush-for bronzer! (but unfortunately, it bleeds like mad: not sure due to the brush itself, or my method of cleansing the brush, advice me please U_U)

Quite new for me to know that you using the bar soap to clean all the wedges and brushes-for all this time, i've had relied only on Daiso's Sponge & Puff Detergent to clean the gunks off, i should try your method-i think it's much more economical, as i clean my brush almost everyday >_O

Thanks Connie

Bunny Masseuse said...

How often do you find yourself cleaning them?

CY said...

Connie, I've heard you're not supposed to dry brushes on the side, because the water will get into the base and loosen the glue! What i do is attach a piece of blu-tack to the brush - on the end if it's fat, like a kabuki or on the side for skinny brushes and stick it to anything that has a smooth surface - cupboards, under a table, etc :)

gio said...

I've never thought of using bar soap to wash brushes. I washed mine yesterday and I used the same method as you but with baby shampoo instead. I'll try the bar soap, thanks.

Yani said...

As always, great post, Connie! Really useful tips. :)

Sue Lynn said...

OH! Facial soap! I must try that. I go thru my baby shampoo way too fast...Getting pricey...NUMNUMNUM

Sue Lynn said...

btw, in between my weekly deep cleansing, i use rubbing alcohol to sanitize my synthetic face brushes every other day...somehow i'm afraid those daily brush cleansers would break me out...

Connie De Alwis said...

Xin: Just coincidentally that I washed all of my brushes together when I was taking those photos. I don't frequently wash bushes that I seldom use.

Sherry: Give it a go then :)

Lyn: Just make sure to rinse thoroughly :)

Connie De Alwis said...

Hershley's: Glad you liked the post! I don't always wash my brushes at one go. Just that I was in the process of moving so I didn't really need my brushes that time so might as well get them washed before moving them! I've not tried Sigma Brushes but I REALLY want their advanced kit.

Fifi: Thanks! hope the bar soap method works for you too :)

Cecobi: They both bleed like mad? Mine are still bleeding too but the Etude House one isn't too bad. I've heard that using shampoo for colored hair would help reduce bleeding but I didn't notice much of a difference from using soap. I've always wanted to get the Daiso brush cleaner in hope that it will remove stains from my sponges.

Connie De Alwis said...

Bunny: For my face brushes, once a week or two weeks once, depending on how often I use them. I don't use deep clean my eye brushes too often because I do wipe them down every time I need to use a different color.

CY: I've tried doing the upside down thing but it was too much hassle because I lack space and my brushes would keep dropping, then I'd have to wash them again. I squeeze the water out fairly well and I've been drying my brushes on their side for years without much problem. Probably not the best method but still not as bad as drying them upright.

Connie De Alwis said...

Gio: Good luck with the soap method! For awhile I was using shampoo but it doesn't dissolve makeup too well

Yani: Thanks! :D

Sue Lynn: That's what I hate about using shampoo! Even I don't use that much shampoo for my hair :p What a waste! I didn't like using rubbing alcohol because of the smell. I really like the MAC Brush cleanser (diluted) and I need to replenish.

Anonymous said...

hi hun,

i know this is a weird technique but i actually use clothing pegs to dry my brushes. you have to use ones with huge gaps. i gather a few brushes and clip them together, then dry them upright by pegging the lot to a hanging fabric. i hope that helps! :)


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<3 Connie

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