Storing your brushes-
Please don't cram a full sized brush into a tiny makeup bag. You will mangle the hairs and eventually ruin the brush. If you must carry brushes in your handbag, find a miniturized set for touchups. If you travel a lot, you may want to buy a travel sized set that is more portable than your home assortment.
You can stand your brushes in a cup or in a brush roll at home.
Using your brushes-
When I worked retail, I used to see people bring in some of the most raggedy looking brushes and they always seemed clueless as to why they looked that way. Use each brush for its intended purpose; a synthetic bristle for creamy textures, a natural hair brush for powdery textures. If you try to use a synthetic to pick up a powder shadow, for instance, it will simply not pick up enough product.
If you have a flat sided powder or cheek color brush, it is not designed to be swirled into the product or onto the face-it is designed to be used flat.You will break the bristles if you use it improperly. If you are a "swirler", buy a kabuki style, round head brush. These are great for bronzers, mineral foundation, of people who prefer a round brush for cheeks.
The flat liner brush and concealer brush are the most abused brushes there are. People want to dig these brushes into their concealer or cake liners and it can permanently distort the shape. Use these brushes flat, swiping gently on the surface or the product. If you treat your tools well you can keep them for years.
Washing your brushes-
This is the most frequently asked question-how often should I clean my brushes? Well, it depends. I of course sanitize mine between clients with an alcohol based cleaner, but I would not recommend this because it is not great for the life of the brush. If you have oily skin, I would say that brushes you use on the face should really be washed every week. Otherwise you are going to end up with an oily coating on top of your blush or pressed powders. For dry skins, every 2-3 weeks.
Eye brushes that are used with dry shadows-it kind of depends on how many colors you are using. If you are someone who is constantly changing eye shadow shades, you probably want to keep a larger assortment of brushes so you are not adulterating the colors; then you won't have to shampoo as often. If you tend to use neutral shades every day you can probably get away with washing every 2-3 weeks.
I am pretty picky about any the tite liner brush; because you are wetting it and using it on your inside lash line, you will need to wash it every week or so. A ton of pigment gets trapped into the base of the bristles and will make the brush start to fray if you don't clean it often enough. A brush that is used wet can also harbor a lot of bacteria.
There are lots of brush cleaners on the market. Some are spray- on, quick-dry cleaners; I like MAC, Clinique, or Mercier for these-but shampooing will be the best bet to get them truly clean in a more gentle way. This is my routine when I get home from a long day of brideface-ing;
I use a small container of warm water with a squirt or two of a mild soap-baby shampoo or Dawn dishwashing liquid are good.
Start with powder brushes, then cheek, then onto eye brushes. You don't want the black pigment and stuff in until the end. Dip a few brushes in your container a swirl a bit; you may need to use your fingers too if the brush is particularly dirty.
Then rinse carefully under the tap. Do this in your palm, and be sure you are not letting water run into the ferrule (which is the metal collar on your brush) A lower quality brush is simply glued into this part, and as soon as that glue dissolves, the hairs will fall out. Better made brushes are hand tied before they are glued in, lending more durability, but water can still get into that part and rot your brush, so do not put the brush facing up right under that tap-! Don't get alarmed if some of your large badger or squirrel brushes have some blackish pigment coming out-these brushes sometimes are dyed so that they have a uniform color.
Once you have all the soap and pigment out, dry it a bit on a towel and reshape with your fingers. Let them dry with the bristles hanging over the edge of a tabletop;this will prevent them from drying flattened on one side or not drying properly. never dry them upright in a cup!
Thanks Rich, for being my photographer today!