Forums > Hair, Makeup & Styling > Cleaning your brushes with alcohol?

Makeup Artist

Glamour Girl6

Posts: 289

Naples, New York, US

I just met another MUA who cleans her brushes with alcohol!  I told her that she's going to ruin her brushes, but she says she was taught that way.

Crazy!

Aug 13 11 12:23 pm Link

Makeup Artist

Makeup By Jae Lee

Posts: 138

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US

Aug 13 11 12:33 pm Link

Model

Josie Lee

Posts: 763

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I just use a mild shampoo. Is alcohol okay if it is only the tips of the brush as a quick fix?

Aug 13 11 12:43 pm Link

Makeup Artist

BeautyFX

Posts: 404

Noordoostpolder, Flevoland, Netherlands

Check what the main ingredient of your favourite brush cleaner is.

It is alcohol, but mixed with some oils and conditioners and a fragrance.


I clean my brushes on site with a brush cleaner, when I get back home I use dishwash(for the artificial brushes) or babysoap (for the other brushes).
Deep cleaning can involve using Dettol as well, but be carefull with that.

I rather buy new brushes every now and then, instead of taking a chance with the health of my customers.

Aug 13 11 02:16 pm Link

Makeup Artist

Glamour Girl6

Posts: 289

Naples, New York, US

I use a brush cleaner on site and then wash them with baby shampoo when I get home.  Every other week I condition them too.

Aug 13 11 02:38 pm Link

Makeup Artist

MP Make-up Artistry

Posts: 5105

Prince George, British Columbia, Canada

I've used 99% alcohol on my brushes since the beginning and my brushes are still happy and perfectly fine.. I use the alcohol between faces and then use shampoo when I get home....
nothing wrong with alcohol .. brush cleaners are almost all alcohol with a dash of sent.. and oils ...

Aug 13 11 03:22 pm Link

Makeup Artist

SARAH JONES makeup

Posts: 57

London, England, United Kingdom

yeah im an alcohol fiend too. no harm seems to come of my brushes

on the job, i spray alcohol on them and wipe clean

occasionally i will condition the natural ones with hair conditioner and plenty of rinsing in water

i dont find proprietary cleaners are as effective as alcohol, especially on sticky gloss and dark lipstick residue

Aug 13 11 03:45 pm Link

Makeup Artist

Glamour Girl6

Posts: 289

Naples, New York, US

Well, you learn something new everyday.  I guess I'll be saving some money on brush cleaners! :-)

Thanks.

Aug 13 11 04:52 pm Link

Makeup Artist

Suzie Polat

Posts: 176

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

As long as you lay them down flat I don't see a problem with using alcohol, I regularly use it on my FX brushes (getting adhesives, removers, etc out of the bristles).  If you saturated the brushes in alcohol them stood them up, the alcohol could seep into the ferrule and loosen the glue that holds it together.  But other than that I don't see any probs using alcohol.

Aug 13 11 04:57 pm Link

Makeup Artist

Lilly Vivona

Posts: 10

Los Angeles, California, US

When working on a job and needed clean brushes over and over, use 99% alcohol. This will thoroughly clean the brushes and dry in a matter of minutes.  They will not smell and be clean and sterilized for the next face you use them on.  On a weekly basis you should use a baby shampoo to clean them again.  Do not soak in alcohol.  What will be ruined in soaking too long, even in baby shampoo because the glue that holds the brush to the handle will start to disinegrate

Aug 13 11 05:56 pm Link

Model

KimberLeigh

Posts: 1384

Levittown, New York, US

Alcohol should be used to clean synthetic brushes (especially if they are coated with antimicrobial. Brush cleaner removes this coating and can later ruin synthetic brushes). Natural hair brushes should be cleaned with brush cleaner as to not dry and damage the hairs. When deep cleaning, you shouldn't use baby shampoo or anything that doesn't contain a conditioner. This will make your brushes last much longer!

Aug 13 11 06:23 pm Link

Makeup Artist

Blushing Veil

Posts: 52

Hartford, Connecticut, US

Nice to know I'm not the only one who does this. I was just doing it because I'm a major germ-a-phobe & it made sense lol.

Aug 13 11 07:00 pm Link

Photographer

Photography by Sharyn

Posts: 348

Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand

I've always used Napoleon's Brush Cleaner, and recently I've actually made my own up that's near identical for 1/8th of the price.

Mix;
Isopropyl alcohol
Lavender Essential Oil
Water

Pop it into a spray bottle and away you go.

The lavender keeps your brushes conditioned and smelling nice, while the alcohol sanitises and also allows the water to evaporate quickly so the bristles don't stay wet.

Good quality brushes should be fine for years if looked after well.
I have two sets of sable brushes, that cost me around $2000 each.
But I'm still using the very first set and they have been heavily used for more than 8 years now!!! They are still perfect, but I look after them well.
They are cleaned between faces with cleaner.
Then once a month I give them a thorough clean with Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel, then they are laid flat to dry before being placed back into my brush roll. 

:-)

Aug 14 11 04:39 am Link

Makeup Artist

Makeup By Jae Lee

Posts: 138

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US

I have always used brush cleaner and esp. MAC's (works so good for me), but every since I saw the above Youtube video.. I started using alcohol. Saves me alot of money and they dry super fast.

I do deep clean them once a week or so, but I am wondering, can anyone offer up the products you deep clean your brushes with? I was too was using baby shampoo.. but someone mentioned there needs to be conditioner. I haven't had any problems with my brushes yet, but I want to make sure they last for years. Would love to read what other people use for synthetic and real hair brushes. Thanks so much!

Aug 14 11 04:59 am Link

Makeup Artist

Heather Schumer

Posts: 633

Fort Lauderdale, Florida, US

Lilly Vivona wrote:
When working on a job and needed clean brushes over and over, use 99% alcohol. This will thoroughly clean the brushes and dry in a matter of minutes.  They will not smell and be clean and sterilized for the next face you use them on.  On a weekly basis you should use a baby shampoo to clean them again.  Do not soak in alcohol.  What will be ruined in soaking too long, even in baby shampoo because the glue that holds the brush to the handle will start to disinegrate

I was taught to not use 99%, but 91% at the highest. This is because the higher the percentage, the quicker it evaporates. 99% evaporates before it has a chance to kill all the bacteria. I use 70%..it takes a minute longer to evaporate and dry, but I know my brushes are getting cleaner.

Aug 14 11 05:47 am Link

Makeup Artist

Isabelle Kai

Posts: 191

Boulder, Colorado, US

Heather Schumer wrote:
I was taught to not use 99%, but 91% at the highest. This is because the higher the percentage, the quicker it evaporates. 99% evaporates before it has a chance to kill all the bacteria. I use 70%..it takes a minute longer to evaporate and dry, but I know my brushes are getting cleaner.

I have also been under the impression that 70% is the requirement to actually sanitize any surfaces. I use 70% alcohol to clean my brushes if necessary, but I wash with antibacterial dish soap mixed with olive oil when I get home. (the oil serves the dual purpose of breaking down any kind of pigments as well as conditioning the brush fibres.)

There have been lots of threads about this - and this issue of percentage gets brought up every time, but most people still tend to stick to 99% alcohol. I know it's faster drying, but if it's not killing all of the bacteria, I don't understand the popularity of its use?

Aug 14 11 06:42 am Link

Photographer

David Hirsh

Posts: 2379

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I use dish soap and clean them in the sink. I have brushes that are years old that look and feel almost brand-new, after lots of heavy use. This method has never been a problem for me.

cheers,

David Hirsh

Aug 14 11 07:05 am Link

Makeup Artist

Chelsea Mandziuk MUA

Posts: 252

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Heather Schumer wrote:

I was taught to not use 99%, but 91% at the highest. This is because the higher the percentage, the quicker it evaporates. 99% evaporates before it has a chance to kill all the bacteria. I use 70%..it takes a minute longer to evaporate and dry, but I know my brushes are getting cleaner.

I was always taught to use 99% to get product out of brushes.. and 70% to disinfect.

Aug 14 11 07:40 am Link

Makeup Artist

SARAH JONES makeup

Posts: 57

London, England, United Kingdom

ive seen 70, 91 and 99% alcohol. i generally use one in the 90s (mostly coz its easier to get), and to be fair, brushes dont dry THAT quickly. so if slower evaporation has anything to do with optimum sanitation then i feel ok about using a higher %

i dont know if 'merely' shampooing and never using alcohol is that effective in sanitation? and brushes wet with water after shampooing take an age to dry - leaving brushes damp for a long time - which strikes me as the perfect breeding ground for bugs. just seems counter-intuitive to me

unless im working a lots and lots of faces, i generally have enough brushes so as not to need to clean on the job too much. they just get used and then thrown in a bag for cleaning at home, but if i have to clean then i use alcohol from a spray bottle for thoroughness, speed and a quick drying time

i do have a bottle of MUFE brush cleaner in my kit but i find its just not that effective and takes an age to dry

Aug 14 11 08:39 am Link

Makeup Artist

Ms BSK

Posts: 886

Brooklyn, New York, US

I use Master's Brush Cleaner to deep clean, condition and reshape my brushes. It gets all of the color out - even on the pretty, white, goat hair brushes.

I use brush cleaner on set - the main ingredient is alcohol. In a pinch I just use alcohol.

Aug 14 11 08:41 am Link

Makeup Artist

SARAH JONES makeup

Posts: 57

London, England, United Kingdom

ill say something though - i am constantly amazed at just how many MUAs never seem to clean their brushes. ill be in a room of 6 and ill be the only one cleaning brushes. it kisses me right off, especially if we are 'sharing' models. if a model gets a problem through lack of hygiene, i feel like ill be tarnished with the same (dirty) brush

models! demand clean brushes!

Aug 14 11 08:43 am Link

Makeup Artist

Glamour Girl6

Posts: 289

Naples, New York, US

On set I use MAC Cleaner, but I guess I'll find something different to deep clean with.  I think I'll stop using the MAC too though because it does take forever to dry and switch to alcohol.

Thanks everyone! :-)

Aug 14 11 10:05 am Link

Model

Josie Lee

Posts: 763

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

SARAH JONES makeup wrote:
ill say something though - i am constantly amazed at just how many MUAs never seem to clean their brushes. ill be in a room of 6 and ill be the only one cleaning brushes. it kisses me right off, especially if we are 'sharing' models. if a model gets a problem through lack of hygiene, i feel like ill be tarnished with the same (dirty) brush

models! demand clean brushes!

If I were in that room of 6 with you, I would be thanking you in front of everyone for cleaning brushes in between models.

Aug 14 11 10:19 am Link

Photographer

Thomas Van Dyke

Posts: 1770

Washington, District of Columbia, US

Parian Spirit a popular brush cleaner actually contains ethanol NOT isopropyl (both being alcohols) additionally Isoparaffinic and D-Limonene (think orange and lemon rind here) thus smells like citrus…

Isopropyl is less than user friendly and at 99% is highly hygroscopic thus will damage your hands quickly…

Ethanol is a little more user friendly but unfortunately you can’t buy it cheaply since it is considered an abused substance and is heavily taxed…

I find using a cleaner labeled “Professional Brush Cleaner” to be reassuring to my clients… The good will it creates is worth the small cost… besides it smells non-medicinal…  smile

I do however have spray bottles of 91% isopropyl for lip and eye pencils and eye lash curlers… Btw… NEVER use an eye pencil or curlers after spraying with isopropyl… while you may laugh, it has been done…

Sanitation doesn't just happen... it is knowledge that is taught/learned...
Believe it is important to understanding why it is necessity to practice it...
In the end knowledge leads to wisdom...

Aug 14 11 11:03 am Link

Makeup Artist

Isabelle Kai

Posts: 191

Boulder, Colorado, US

Thomas Van Dyke wrote:
I find using a cleaner labeled “Professional Brush Cleaner” to be reassuring to my clients… The good will it creates is worth the small cost… besides it smells non-medicinal…  smile

That's a good point. I actually have several different brands of brush cleaner... I may just start using one out of the bottle as opposed to in a smaller spray bottle... I repackage and label everything so that my kit isn't so heavy. But psychologically for the client, it is probably comforting to see the product label.

Thomas Van Dyke wrote:
I do however have spray bottles of 91% isopropyl for lip and eye pencils and eye lash curlers…

Since I bought a set of Beauty So Clean products, including the brush cleaner, makeup sanitizing spray and wipes, it has occurred to me that buying the straight medical wipes (of 70% alcohol) from the drug store feels like a nicer way to wipe down tweezers, eyelash curlers, etc. (For pencils, I do spray, because the pencil is more porous and spraying feels more thorough in those instances.) But I've started wiping in lieu of spraying alcohol on non-porous surfaces because I don't like breathing in the alcohol fumes. I have gottten quite attached to using the wipes... I wonder if anyone else does this?

edit: I wonder if anyone else uses brush guards to dry their brushes? I bought some drying racks for utensils, and after washing my brushes in antibacterial dishsoap, I wipe down on a clean towel as thorougly as possible, and then encase the brush in a brush guard (a mesh/web type enclosure). I then stand the brush so that the bristles face down (the brush guard allows for one to do this because the mesh stands on its own, and the brush bristles don't touch whatever surface is below them). They dry pretty quickly after this, and it feeels more sanitary than laying them flat. When I use a brush cleaner/alcohol, I do lay the brushes flat, but on a towel rolled up on one side to create a downward slant.

Aug 14 11 01:28 pm Link

Makeup Artist

SARAH JONES makeup

Posts: 57

London, England, United Kingdom

Josie Lee wrote:
If I were in that room of 6 with you, I would be thanking you in front of everyone for cleaning brushes in between models.

haha! excellent!

i have alcohol wipes too, for hard surfaces, tools and the like

cant recall the last time i used lip and eye pencils. the only kind i regularly use are brow pencils. i sharpen and wipe, and then sharpen again and spray before putting them away. and then repeat cleaning when i need to use them

but i dont really like them, theyre used on the most potentially icky parts of the face - lips and eyes, so i avoid if at all possible. all that porous and moist wood, the inside of the cap must be full of bugs, so that needs keeping clean, then you gotta keep cleaning the sharpener. egads!

plus i really dont like waterline makeup, always looks suspect - to me anyway

i keep the isopropyl away from my hands so its not an issue, but its nasty stuff im always cautious and respectful of it

i use the beauty so clean stuff on the makeup itself

i tend to work with models rather than 'real' people, so having labelled/branded cleaners isnt an issue. for brides though, i understand this might be a 'consumer' consideration (like how brides love their MAC)

might give that parian spirit a go - citrus sounds nice!

Aug 14 11 01:48 pm Link

Makeup Artist

SARAH JONES makeup

Posts: 57

London, England, United Kingdom

i just lay my brushes out flat somewhere out of the way and airy (my conservatory is perfect), laid on clean kitchen paper with an other sheet of kitchen paper over the top. rotate the brushes every now and then

i thought the brush guards might hinder drying?

i think theyd be good for keeping bigger brushes in good condition in you kit but aside from that...

Aug 14 11 01:49 pm Link

Makeup Artist

War Paint

Posts: 385

Los Angeles, California, US

Deadly Design Make-up wrote:
I've used 99% alcohol on my brushes since the beginning and my brushes are still happy and perfectly fine.. I use the alcohol between faces and then use shampoo when I get home....
nothing wrong with alcohol .. brush cleaners are almost all alcohol with a dash of sent.. and oils ...

I do the same and so do most artists I know smile

Aug 14 11 03:39 pm Link

Model

Stacie Marie

Posts: 954

Indianapolis, Indiana, US

What is the best way to clean a liquid foundation brush?

I recently bought one and I love it, but I want to keep it in good condition. My face is the only face that it touches. How often should I clean it?

Dec 16 11 07:56 am Link

Makeup Artist

BMR-MUA

Posts: 548

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

-StacieMarie- wrote:
What is the best way to clean a liquid foundation brush?

I recently bought one and I love it, but I want to keep it in good condition. My face is the only face that it touches. How often should I clean it?

In general it is a good idea to clean the brush, if you're the only one using it, when you put it away. Never store a dirty brush.

For general cleaning use Cinema Secrets brush cleaner. It will clean and sanitize the brush.

If you have a heavy build-up of product, use "The Masters"® Brush Cleaner and Preserver prior to using the CS cleaner. I use this primarily on the brushes I use for effects makeup. Don't get the brush really wet; the water may seep into the handle causing the wood to swell and split/loosen the ferrule.

Brushes used for makeup are noncritical items and should never be used on mucous membranes or non-intact skin. The CDC addresses issues associated with cleaning and disinfecting noncritical items in a hospital environment here. Although this publication is intended for health care the same guidelines should be applicable to makeup artists.

Dec 16 11 12:16 pm Link

Makeup Artist

Tara Pagliara MUA

Posts: 704

New York, New York, US

The models are lucky I dont spritz them with alcohol lol. I am addicted.

Dec 16 11 03:31 pm Link

Makeup Artist

Raw-Beauty

Posts: 199

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I usually use 99% alcohol because I want to make sure my brushes are clean.  I do not want germs to transfer from one model to another.   I also use brush cleaners which also contains alcohol to do additional cleaning.

So far I only had a few brushes that fell apart on me but I rather replace the brush than risk having unsanitary brushes.   At end of day, I would use shampoo and give the brushes a good wash to clean and air-dry them.

Dec 17 11 07:00 am Link

Makeup Artist

CMaquillage

Posts: 487

New York, New York, US

I dont know if i'd go as far as to used straight 99% alc. on my brushes, have I done it in a pinch yes. But i have some very expensive haikuhodo brushes that I want to last forever. my 2 go to cleaners are cinema secrets and parian spirit. BOTH contain a small amount of alc. or else they would never dry. so both will disinfect your brushes. Also I wash and condition my brushes at the end of every other week.

Cinema secrets i find dries the fastest and get just about everything out of the brush.

Parian Spirit takes longer to dry and is a bit oily so it's not the greatest on lip brushes, but it does leave your brushes conditioned and soft. i like to use this one on my powder brushes.

Dec 17 11 08:08 am Link

Makeup Artist

Beauty4U

Posts: 1862

New York, New York, US

CMaquillage wrote:
I dont know if i'd go as far as to used straight 99% alc. on my brushes, have I done it in a pinch yes. But i have some very expensive haikuhodo brushes that I want to last forever. my 2 go to cleaners are cinema secrets and parian spirit. BOTH contain a small amount of alc. or else they would never dry. so both will disinfect your brushes. Also I wash and condition my brushes at the end of every other week.

Cinema secrets i find dries the fastest and get just about everything out of the brush.

Parian Spirit takes longer to dry and is a bit oily so it's not the greatest on lip brushes, but it does leave your brushes conditioned and soft. i like to use this one on my powder brushes.

Agreed!  In a pinch I do use 70% alcohol.  There's nothing wrong with using it and I've had most of my brushes for a good 7 - 8 years.  My go to brush cleaner (on set) is the Cozzette Aromatherapy.

Dec 17 11 09:37 am Link

Makeup Artist

BMR-MUA

Posts: 548

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Raw-Beauty wrote:
I usually use 99% alcohol because I want to make sure my brushes are clean.  I do not want germs to transfer from one model to another.   I also use brush cleaners which also contains alcohol to do additional cleaning.

According to the Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities, 2008:

"In the healthcare setting, "alcohol" refers to two water-soluble chemical compounds—ethyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol—that have generally underrated germicidal characteristics.  FDA has not cleared any liquid chemical sterilant or high-level disinfectant with alcohol as the main active ingredient. These alcohols are rapidly bactericidal rather than bacteriostatic against vegetative forms of bacteria; they also are tuberculocidal, fungicidal, and virucidal but do not destroy bacterial spores. Their cidal activity drops sharply when diluted below 50% concentration, and the optimum bactericidal concentration is 60%–90% solutions in water (volume/volume)"

Dec 17 11 09:00 pm Link

Makeup Artist

MUA Amy DeSimone

Posts: 2

FEASTERVILLE TREVOSE, Pennsylvania, US

When Im cleaning my brushes at home I use either a brush cleaner or mild soap and water. When Im out on a shoot or working on a client and I need to clean a brush or two I use 70% alcohol. Ive been doing that for a while and my brushes are fine. I also use it to clean all the smaller parts of my airbrush guns. I would stay away from the 99%.

Dec 18 11 10:56 am Link

Makeup Artist

Dinandrea

Posts: 3

Los Angeles, California, US

Hello, All!  Actually, 99% alcohol IS the best thing to use to clean your makeup brushes and to spray (quickly) over your powder/pan shadows, blushers as well as after wiping off/burning your eye and lip pencils.  REMEMBER: bacteria from the eyes and mouth are the easiest to communicate conjunctivitis (eyes) or staph infections to clients.  Its our job to make people look better than when they came in, NOT worse. 

BTW:  Parian spirit IS actually 99% isopropyl alcohol with a few drops of orange oil.

Aug 19 12 11:23 am Link

Makeup Artist

Elizabethmakeup

Posts: 338

Hereford, England, United Kingdom

Glamour Girl6 wrote:
I just met another MUA who cleans her brushes with alcohol!  I told her that she's going to ruin her brushes, but she says she was taught that way.

Crazy!

I always clean my brushes with alcohol and they're in perfect condition.

Aug 19 12 12:00 pm Link

Makeup Artist

Elizabethmakeup

Posts: 338

Hereford, England, United Kingdom

DP

Aug 19 12 12:02 pm Link

guide forum

Makeup Artist

KJB

Posts: 1184

New York, New York, US

Or you can make a batch of KJ’s Homemade Quick Brush Cleaner, which is a totally effective alternative because it saves money ($$$) and works EXACTLY the same way.

Mix 13oz 70% Alcohol, 2oz Cosmetic Grade Acetone, 1oz Flax Seed Oil and about 30 drops of Grapefruit Seed essential oil (highly antibacterial) and 15 drops of Lavender essential oil. 
Use the same way as any commercial spray or quick dip brush cleaner.  Store in a tightly sealed non-corrosive acrylic or glass bottle.

Aug 19 12 01:26 pm Link