Maybe it isn't quite worthy of making a resolution, but the beginning of the year is a great time to think about how you clean and care for your makeup brushes. Start now with a good cleaning program, and with luck it will become a great new habit that will give your brushes a longer life span and boost the purity of the colors you apply.
The most common question about cleaning brushes is "how often?" That will depend a bit on what you're using them for and how many different shades you use. Most people use their foundation brush for only one shade, so that one is easiest, let's start there.
Foundation Brush - our #25 and #15 foundation brushes are made of taklon fiber, and when perfectly clean and dry, they are impossibly soft. As oils and foundation build up in the brush, it loses that wonderful pampering feel, so that is usually all the indication that I need that it's time to give the brush a good bath. Just an estimate, I probably wash my personal foundation brush every two to three weeks. I like to use a gentle bar soap for this one, so that the ferrule and handle stay as dry as possible, but you can also use a mild liquid soap in the palm of your hand. First, get the brush wet. Then either swirl the bristles on the bar soap or in the liquid soap in the palm of your hand. (Once you have gotten the bristles soapy on the bar soap, move to the palm of your hand.) Swirl the bristles until the foam coming out seems mostly clear. Then rinse. I usually hold the brush right in the stream from the faucet and rotate it, while combing through the bristles with my fingers. When the water seems to be running clear, squeeze the bristles gently in your hand. If a bit of white soap residue comes from the center of the brush, resume the rinsing. If foundation-colored residue comes out, return to the soap and repeat the sudsing. Because these two brushes have very dense bristles, it is common to need to soap up the bristles twice, or even three times. It is very important to get everything out of your brush. If you don't, it might feel (once it is dry) as if the center of the brush, near the base of the bristles has developed a hard area, and lost it's ability to be fluffy. This is just because residue is binding those center bristles together, and it needs to be rewashed and rinsed well. Once the bristles give up only clear water when squeezed, continue to squeeze until you can't get any more water out. Then squeeze them again with a towel over your hand. (If your brush is new, use an old one, the bristles can sometimes bleed a bit of black for the first few washings.) When you have squeezed as much as possible from the brushes, lay them to dry with the bristles extending over the edge of a countertop. My window-sill works perfectly for this! If you wash your brush immediately after you apply your foundation in the morning, it should be dry and ready to go the next morning. It is especially helpful if you fluff the bristles once or twice during the drying process.
Blush, Kitten and Buff Brushes - these three brushes are a bit easier to wash than the foundation brushes because the bristles are not as densely packed. The fluffier nature of them speeds up the lathering and rinsing process. I usually wash the three of them together, in nearly the same fashion as the foundation brushes...lather all three, then rinse all three, then squeeze and dry all three. If you change your blush color often, you might want to wash your blush brush more often, but you can also use an old hand-towel to do a quick intermediate cleanse between colors. To do this, either lightly dampen an area of the towel (a microfiber cloth also works nicely) and swirl the bristles on the damp area. Then swirl them on a dry area until the bristles feel dry. This will allow you to change colors without muddying the shades. If you use the same blush color most of the time, you can probably get away with cleaning your brush somewhere between every two and four weeks.
Eyeshadow Brushes - much like the Blush Brush, these brushes do well with a quick towel-cleanse if you change colors a lot. But because they also dry quickly, if you are making dramatic color changes, it is just as easy to wash them quickly after using a particularly vivid shade. To do a quick wash, I usually squirt a bit of handsoap in my palm and do a mini-version of the foundation brush cleanse. Because they dry so quickly, there should be no problem with them being ready to go the next morning. If you wear mostly the same types of shades, you can probably go two or three weeks between washes for shadow brushes. If you have more than two or three, I find it easiest to take a glass and pour a little liquid soap in, then add some warm water. (1 to 2" depth is plenty.) Take each brush and dip, swirl and pump until it seems clean. Put it aside, and when all brushes have been washed, rinse them one at a time, then squeeze to dry.
Eyeliner Brushes - in my bathroom, this brush is washed nearly every day. I generally apply my eyeliner with a damp brush, and if I don't clean it between, the bristles are hard and caked with color the next day--not an ideal way to start a beautiful liner look! Once I apply my eyeliner in the morning, I just rinse it off, swirl it on the bar of handsoap or in a touch of my facial cleanser in my palm. A quick rinse and pinch of the brushes between a towel, and it's pretty much ready to go again, even later the same day.
A word of caution on your brushes...never apply heat to them to speed the drying process. The taklon doesn't do well with heat, and using a hair-dryer will almost certainly ruin your brushes.
This week Alima Pure has a special on three of our Luminous Shimmer Powders (your choice of Lumina, Sorbet or Dolce) and the amazing #21 Buff Brush for only $25. This great value makes a great gift and is also a fun way to treat yourself, but how exactly do you use a shimmer powder?
During the holidays, it is fun to add a bit of glam to your regular look with a touch of shimmer on the tops of the cheekbones or under the brow bone. If confined to these two areas, there is no reason you can't wear shimmer powder during the day.
At night, let your imagination run wild! In addition to the brow bone and cheekbones, you can dab a small amount of shimmer on the bridge of the nose and the chin, and run a bit across the forehead. Or if you are truly not shimmer-phobic, tap out some of your Satin Matte Foundation into a bowl or on a paper towel and mix a small amount of the shimmer powder in, to give you a subtle, but radiant glow. You can also apply the shimmer powder to the lips, either mixed with your favorite lip color, or dabbed on top (focus on the center of the lips, don't go clear out to the sides). If you apply a small amount to the center of your lower lip, you can create a pouty, fuller look.
If you are wearing something that is either low-cut or has a wide neckline, dust shimmer on exposed skin. If you're wearing bare shoulders, carry the shimmer across your shoulders, gradually blending it down the arms.
If you're wearing a skirt, pour some body lotion into your hand and then tap shimmer powder on top. Mix the two well and apply to your legs. Don't go overboard here, because you don't want it to rub off on everything you touch. Just a tiny bit will adhere nicely with the lotion and should wear for hours.
Rahel is so warm that it almost feels like she is radiating sunshine. A Portland physician who cares for women with pelvic floor disorders such as prolapse and incontinence, Rahel has also worked at the Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa in her native Ethiopia. It is easy to imagine the soothing effect she would have on young women suffering from the condition of fistula, which causes them to become social outcasts.
We selected Rahel as our third Naturally Gorgeous model because of her smile and warmth, but we were delighted when she expressed surprise that we could match a foundation to her skin. Prior to Alima Pure, she had never found a foundation that truly matched her skin. Can you guess from her photo which shade is hers? Read on to find out!
AP: Where were you born?
RN: I was born and raised in Ethiopia. I got a scholarship to attend college in the US, which is how I got here.
AP: Now you work in Portland as a physician, but how often do you get back to Ethiopia?
RN: I spent a year at the Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa between my residency and fellowship training. That was a life altering experience and probably informs much of what I do now. I now go back about once a year to do medical work in rural Ethiopia where I spend about 2 weeks. I wish I could spend more time, but it is hard to do with all my clinical and motherly obligations in the US.
AP: What do you do for fun?
RN: I like exploring Portland and finding new places to eat with my (six-year-old) son and husband.
AP: What do you really care about?
RN: I care about my family, my patients and my profession as a clinician, researcher and educator. I also deeply care about my medical work in rural Ethiopia. Our global project called Footsteps to Healing is about improving the maternal and women’s health in rural Ethiopia, building local healthcare capacity and educating our students, residents and colleagues.
AP: What inspires you?
RN: I am inspired by people who have achieved greatness in their life but manage to stay humble. I am even more inspired by people who have very little material things but have the biggest heart and the brightest smiles. This is the virtue of my Ethiopian people.
AP: What scares you?
AP: How do you define beauty?
RN: To me, beauty is simple, unadulterated, genuine and deep. I think if you have true beauty, you do not have to work hard to feel it or to see it in others.
AP: What makes you feel beautiful?
RN: A relaxing steam bath after yoga. The rare occasions when I actually dress up for a night out and take time to put on my simple Ethiopian silver or wooden jewelry.
AP: What surprises people about you?
RN: Introducing myself as the doctor to my elderly female patients. They think I look too young. It also surprises me how fast their surprise is replaced with trust and openness once we start to talk.
To get Rahel’s Look:
We applied Satin Matte Foundation in Golden 6 with the #25 Foundation Brush. For extra coverage under the eyes, we used her foundation with the #3 Concealer Brush. On her cheeks, we used Antique Rose Satin Matte Blush applied with the #17 Blush Brush.
For her eyes, we used Luminous Shimmer Eyeshadow in Leone on the #37 All Over Blending Brush (which helps keep shimmer from becoming overwhelming). Then we added Luminous Shimmer Shadow in Aphrodite on her lid with the #39 Large Shadow Brush. We filled in Rahel’s brows with Satin Matte Eyeliner in Espresso with the #33 Angle Liner Brush.
For the finishing touch, we used our Organic Nourishing Lip Balm in Holly Berry.
Please click to learn more about the work of the Hamlin Fistula Hospital.
If you've been eyeing the Cold Outside holiday collection, but wondering if you could really pull off those vivid, cool tones, we hope this helps. We applied the colors to our model, Nikki, so you can see how fantastic they look on a real person.
Nikki is wearing Beige 4 foundation and the entire "Cold Outside" collection. We applied Snowdrift from her lashes to her brows, and then put Snow Angel on the inner 2/3 of her lid. With a damp brush, we lined under her lower lashes with Snow Angel. We then applied Jack Frost to the outer 1/3 of her lid, and blended it gently into the crease. With a damp brush, we lined her upper lashes with Jack Frost.
We gently applied a little Rosy Cheeks to the apples of her cheeks, and slicked on some Cranberry Organic Nourishing Lip Balm as the finishing touch. We think Nikki looks beautiful! Her image is unretouched.
Tip: When experimenting with a new makeup technique, the best time is right before bed. You're going to take your makeup off anyway, so it doesn't matter if it gets a little messy.
Start with one of our powdered eyeliners and a very small bowl, or the lid of the jar. Tap some product into the bowl and add a few drops of water. Mix, adding more water or powder until you get the consistency you want. Practice drawing a few lines on your hand to see if you need to add more liner for more intense color. In this demonstration, we used Luminous Shimmer Eyeliner in Paparazzi and our #33 Angle Liner Brush. The #33 is perfect for applying the eyeliner mixed with water, because it is easy to draw it on in one, smooth motion.
Begin at the inner corner of the eye and draw a line right in the roots of your eyelashes, stopping a little before you get to the outer edge. Stop before your lashline starts to angle down (or you will be drawing the eye down which is not what we want.) Now gently slope the line upward, aiming toward the end of your brow. Start small with this upwards motion, you can add to it later for a more intense effect.
Go back over this line, thickening it, not being so careful to stay at the roots of the lashes. Taper the line to a point as shown. If this "tail" at the end looks too far away from your lashes, fill in underneath, working from your point back towards the lashes.
The sudden drop in temperature here leaves no doubt, winter truly is just around the corner! And as the weather changes and the last traces of any tan you had fades into oblivion, you may want to consider updating the contents of your makeup bag for the season.
Comfort is key when the weather gets colder, so it is always a good idea to have a moisturizer that you can apply to hands, elbows or even your face when you really need some moisture. Coconut oil is a great choice, you can easily transfer some from a larger container into a small jar, and because it is solid at room temperature, you don't need to worry about leaks or spills.
To add a little color back to your face, carry a bronzer that is slightly darker than your natural skintone and a blush with a rosier tone. Satin Matte Blush in Antique Rose, Honey Rose and Desert Rose are great options, as are Bronzers like Maricaibo, Mauna Loa and Trinidad.
When the skies are dull, add a bit more brightness to your look with a Luminous Shimmer Eyeshadow with not-so-subtle sparkle. Buttercream, Venus, Paris or Leone are easy to sweep all over the eye area and look great with or without a contour color.
It may sound a little silly at first, why would anyone want a little spray bottle for water? But if you are a devoted Alima Pure wearer, you probably already know...it is not silly at all! Our atomizer can be very handy when you are applying your makeup.
When you are applying your foundation (in several sheer layers, of course), sometimes it can start to look a little dry, especially when the weather is changing as it is in many places right now. Mist your face very lightly with the atomizer and allow the mist to air dry. Suddenly what looked a little dry looks a little dewy and very natural. As an added bonus, it will also wear a bit longer. If you still want more coverage, it is perfectly acceptable to apply more foundation after your mist has dried.
When applying eye shadows and liner, the colors look more vibrant and wear without creasing if they are applied wet. Rather than pouring shadow out of the jar and adding water to them, try loading up your brush with color and working the color into the bristles, then spritz the brush! By doing this, you avoid having overly wet shadows, and by the time you have applied the shadow to your eye, your brush is dry enough to repeat the process. This technique works very well with the liners and gives a more dramatic look than using them dry, but less dramatic than if you mixed up shadow with water in a container.
Until November 2, receive an atomizer with any Alima Pure purchase of $20 or more (before shipping, and after any discounts).