Liz Yu Photography

Does Alcohol Improve My Brush Cleaner?

When it comes to cleaning our brushes, the brush cleaner we use as makeup artists is pretty serious business. Two of the most popular quick brush cleaner on the market used by professional makeup artists are Cinema Secrets and Kryolan. Many well known makeup brands like Face Atelier, Clinique, Bobbi Brown also have their own brush cleaners as well. Each of these brush cleaners have their loyal following because of its scent, effectiveness, and/or simply how accessible it is.

Cinema Secrets Brush Cleaner

Cinema Secrets Brush Cleaner

What if you are one of those artists that just don’t like any of these available brush cleaners and decided to create your own? More often than not, I meet artists who come in to Blur Makeup Room asking me how to get build ups out of their makeup brushes. After a few questions, the issue usually narrows down to artists mixing various “cleansing” liquids, such as including alcohol, to create their own brush cleaning formula.

Alcohol always seem like a good idea when it comes to sanitizing and cleaning surfaces, so why not use it in our brush cleaner? Every brush cleaner on the market has been carefully formulated with the right balance of solvents to dissolve and break makeup away from the brush bristles. So how is alcohol any different?

The simple answer is that most makeup contain silicone. When silicone and alcohol are mixed together, the silicone is cured into a solid state by the alcohol. When this solid silicone meets more alcohol, it swells up and traps other oils inside it. The combination of the two consecutive reactions causes the makeup to be stuck inside the brush bristles and making it difficult to clean out. These reaction is also the same reason why spraying your makeup palette with alcohol causes the hardening of certain products, and why cleaning airbrush guns with alcohol doesn’t always work.

Chemistry is a lot of fun and there is a reason why each brush cleaner is formulated the way they are. If you are unhappy with your brush cleaner, try visiting your local makeup artist supply store or giving them a call to see if they have some suggestions for you. Most of us have gone through lots of products and have found a way to keep our kits clean without breaking the bank and ruining our expensive tools.

I hope this helps some of you who have been having some challenges with cleaning your brushes or airbrush guns!