Beauty Brush Cleaning Made Easy

November 22, 2016

Did you know that Sally and I have three younger sisters? They are college and high-school ages and though there are years between us and some sisterly differences, one thing we all have in common is a deep love of makeup and beauty products. The first time I tried the GlamGlow Supermud mask was when I found it in my sister Lily's bathroom. Sally stole borrowed Grace's Bobbi Brown foundation when we were all in Austin for our sister-in-law's bachelorette party. And I'm frequently asking our youngest sister Sadie what mascara she's using (I got big giggles when she responded a few months ago with, "mostly Perversion"). Unlike me and Sally, our sisters are always on the up-and-up with what's new and amazing when it comes to beauty. All three of them were using BeautyBlenders long before we were and they're often schooling us in the latest and greatest.

When Sadie was visiting me and Sally in October we were discussing how often we clean our BeautyBlenders and Sadie mentioned that she would clean hers more often if she had a Sigma Mat like our sister Grace. Huh? What the heck is a Sigma Mat. Sadie explained that it was a great tool for cleaning brushes, duh. Over a month later, I decided to give this magic mat a try.


For someone who loves using make-up brushes for most all my beauty product application and has heavily invested in them, you would think I clean them more often. I’m very ashamed to say that I do not. They maybe get cleaned once every 6 months. Disgusting, I know! I did actually cleaned a few of my most-used brushes (bronzer, blush, and foundation) before Sadie’s visit…I had planned on doing all my brushes both for face and eyes but those three took me so much time that I lost steam and decided I would re-visit the task…later.

Fast forward a month and I got a silly skin infection on my face (so awesome!). My dermatologist recommended bathing in bleach and washing everything I own – including my make-up brushes. The task seemed daunting but I didn’t want the hellish infection to come back after finally clearing it up so I strode into the Nordstrom beauty department on a mission to get myself one of those Sigma Mats Sadie spoke of to help in the process. I found out very quickly that Sigma Beauty doesn’t just make one magical brush cleaning tools – they make several. There’s the Express Cleaning Mat (the one my sis Grace uses), a 2x Cleaning Glove, an Express Cleaning Glove, and a Dry ‘n Shape situation. Options! I jumped on the Express Cleaning Glove because it seemed like the best space saver and I liked that it could be worn on my hand but wasn’t a giant bit like the 2x Glove. I should note that I got the Express Cleaning Glove in-store for $25 but it’s only sold online in a “duo kit” that includes the glove and Sigma’s amazing Flat Kabuki Brush) for an awesome combined value (should be $50, sole for $39).Sigma sells their own brush shampoo but I already owned the i.D. ‘Well Cared For’ Brush Conditioning Shampoo so I decided not to get the Sigma version.

Once I got my very hot pink glove home I took it out of the packaging and scratched my head at the included instructions. Being the visual girl I am, I went to Sigma’s website and watched the video for the Express Glove so I knew exactly how to use the product (nerd alert). Then I gathered up about half my brushes (I decided to do them in two groups – what you see in this post is the first half) and my BeautyBlender, got my brush shampoo, and set up a little station at my bathroom sink.

The Express Glove has two sides – one for face brushes and one for eye brushes – each with different textures. There are seven textures and they are all marked with directional words like “refund, wash, rinse.” I started with the “face” side, making sure that those three textures were facing up, then slid my hand with my palm facing up through the wrist strap and my thumb through a side hole so that the silicone was nice and secure. Then I did the following with each face brush:

  • Got the glove wet with running water
  • Put a dime size amount of the brush cleaner on the middle “wash” section
  • Wet the hairs of selected brush beneath running water, then swirled in the brush cleaner directly on the textured surface
  • After swirling for several seconds, making sure that the cleaner was really worked into the brush hairs, I rinsed the glove under running water, swiped the brush head under running water, and returned to the “wash” section, swirling again. I repeated this process a couple times till I no longer saw any makeup residue on the glove
  • Then I held the front part of the glove (the “rinse” section) under running water and swept the brush vertically and horizontally over the texture to be sure all the makeup and soap was out
  • Lastly, I gently ran the brush head over the ridges on the side of the glove while squeezing water out with my thumb
  • There were a few brushes that had a ton of product in the brush hairs that I used the “refine” texture (the own closest to my wrist) for an extra deep cleaning

To do the eye brushes, I just rinsed the face side then turned the cupped part that went around my fingers inside out and slid my hand through the wrist strap as before but with the “eye” side facing up. Then I just followed the same steps above but with the “eye” textures (using about a third of the amount of cleaners per brush). I also got my BeautyBlender in on the action, gently rubbing it on the “wash” section of the face side. *If you do this, just be super careful – you don’t want to tear the foam of the BeautyBlender!

After gently squeezing out as much water as I could with the glove (you don’t want to pull ANY of the brush hairs out!) I laid each brush flat on a clean wash cloth. I’ve been told that this is the best way to dry brushes because standing them up to dry allows excess water to seep into the brush hairs in the metal part that connects to the brush handle. This is no bueno, those hairs will never dry and that’s just not clean. After letting the brushes sit flat while doing the cleaning, I took each one and gently swirled it on the wash cloth to fluff up the fibers a bit. Then I laid them down again and patently waited for them to dry (about 24 hours).

Two things:

  • No. 1: it is SO satisfying to see all the built-up product get cleaned and rinsed out of brushes. I did feel a little a bit of shame at having waited so long to get the gunk out but that was replaced with joy and followed by a promise to myself that I would do this once a month.
  • No. 2: I won’t lie, I was initially very skeptical of the Sigma brush cleaning tools. I mean, I trust my sisters and their beauty knowledge but I thought that having a tool devoted to the brush cleaning task seemed a little…excessive. Every time I had washed my brushes before I just put a little cleanser in my hand, and swirled a wet brush head in it repeatedly till it was clean and my hand looked like a prune. Let me just be the one to tell you: I got all my brushes clean in a ridiculously quick amount of time (maybe doing all of them in the time it took me to do three with my previous cleaning technique) and they really, really got clean (I didn’t just say “that looks good enough” and give up). I can say that I’m 100% a believer in the Sigma cleaning tools and am so glad I took note from my younger (and possibly wiser?) sisters and got one myself. I plan on sharing the Express Glove with Sally – because sharing is caring and sisters don’t let sisters use gunky beauty brushes.

The best part about having freshly cleaned brushes – aside from the fact of knowing that I’m not swiping hairs full of old makeup and dead skin on my face – is that they are so fluffy and soft. And cleaning them helps cut back those unwanted brush hairs that always seem to come off on my face when I’m using them.

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