If you are coming to our christmas party please make sure that you grab a free ticket from this link - https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-face-painting-shop-christmas-party-tickets-51959407988
Hi everyone! By the time you read this you are probably in the midst of the Halloween madness, knee deep in latex and fake blood! I hope it’s a lucrative period for you all, and look forward to seeing the amazing faces that you have all created!
This week I am going to talk hygiene. Everyone has their own ideas about what best practice means for them, and as there is no actual official rule on what we should and should not be doing when it comes to working, it is ultimately up to each individual painter what way they choose to do things. I will freely admit that it’s a bug bear of mine, and as such, my practices may seem extreme to others, but for me, it is about taking all reasonable steps to minimise the risk of cross contamination, and reduce the chances of being the reason that someone becomes unwell or suffers a reaction from work that I have carried out. People are covered in germs and bacteria, none more so than children, so it’s not possible to completely eliminate this from face painting, and that’s not the aim here. The aim is to reduce any risk as much as is practically possible, while still being able to work fast, and efficiently, and doing what you feel is right for your business.
Let’s start with your kit in general. I deep clean my kit after every day’s work. For me, this involves wiping over every paint surface, container, cup, stencils and poofer etc, giving my brushes a good clean and machine washing my sponges. I use a fresh towel and tablecloth for each job. It really doesn’t take that long... maybe 30 minutes on average, and for me, it’s crucial that I arrive at every job with a clean kit. I have had many parents / clients comment that they are pleased to see that my kit is clean, and this is one of the things that sticks in client’s minds and makes them remember you when it comes to booking entertainment for their next event. We have all seen photos of horror-kits online, or in real life, and it genuinely baffles me that any parent would allow their child to be painted by products that look so unsanitary. It’s also about taking pride in your work, your working environment and your tools. I love my kit. I invest heavily in it, and I want to look after it – my livelihood depends on it after all!
Did you know that all of the paint products that we use have a limited shelf life once opened? For most paints, this is 12 months. After this time, they should not be used. You can find this information on the label as shown below. While our paints do contain antibacterial agents, these are designed to delay any mould growth in damp paint, and do not kill viruses / prevent cross contamination. After 12 months, these agents will not be providing the protection from mould growth that they previously would have, and therefore the paint is likely to be less sanitary than before. I’ve talked about repotting before, and mentioned that I keep a note of all batch numbers and expiry dates. If you repot your paints, it’s a really good idea to do this, so that you can keep track of what expires and when.
Jane posted a fab blog post recently about how to clean your brushes between gigs, so I’m not going to talk much about that, and will instead focus on on the job hygiene practices. Face painting water gets mucky. There is really nothing that we can do to eliminate that due to the amazing array of pigments in our paints, but there are easy steps that can be taken to ensure that your brushes stay as clean as possible during a job. Rule one… never leave your brushes standing in water. It damages the bristles, the ferrule, and it leads to cracking flaky paint on the handles... never a good look, and a perfect breeding ground for nasties. Personally, I operate a 3 cup system, and while it took a little getting used to at first, it works well for me now, and doesn’t slow me down at all. The first cup contains water, and is used as a first rinse. The aim here is to get as much paint as possible out of the brush. The second cup contains water, and a brush sanitiser. I use Brush Bath by Silly Farm, which is 100% organic and smells divine. You only need to add a few drops to the water, so it lasts for ages and it will not damage your brushes. My third cup contains only water, and is only used to rinse after the second cup, or to load a fresh brush. I can work a long and busy job, and the water in this cup stays clean throughout as it is never used for a painty brush.
So...the great sponge debate! There are two very different schools of thought on this. Lots of painters use a ‘one sponge per colour’ system, where the same sponge is used to apply paint to lots of faces, before being washed. Alternatively, others use a ‘one sponge per face’ system meaning that sponges are not used on more than one face before being washed. Personally, the idea of sponge sharing doesn’t sit well with me. While I am sure that no one is painting over open gaping wounds, or visible infections, it is important to remember that the majority of infections are contagious before they are symptomatic, so there is usually no way of spotting that someone is brewing up something you don’t want to share! Also, just because it hasn’t happened, doesn’t mean that it never will, and if you are ever in a situation where a client has raised concerns about infection or reactions, you need to be able to prove that you work as safely as you possibly can. I want to minimise any risk of cross contamination and therefore I can’t get past the knowledge that I could be passing cold sores, conjunctivitis, impetigo, chicken pox or God knows what else, along a line of little people. Also, I don’t want those things in my paint, or on my hands if I can avoid it! I have loads of sponges, (I tend to cut regular face painting sponges in half which instantly doubles my stock!) and I have 2 mesh bags – one for clean, one for dirty. My sponges come out of one, are used, and go into the other, where they stay until I wash them after the job along with my towels and tablecloth. I add a laundry disinfectant to the load to ensure that they are squeaky clean before being reused. Interestingly, I have noticed that reusing sponges seems to be more common in the US than the UK, and can only assume that this is because there are a number of high profile American painters who do so. Again… this is a decision that only you can make, but it is important that you research both techniques before deciding what you are happy with. I have had parents comment that they are pleased to see that I do not reuse sponges, and that alone is a good enough reason for me to have a single use policy. Clients notice more than just the end result of our work! Any professional face and body painting organisation that I could find all have a ‘clean sponge per face’ criterion in their working guidelines, including FACE – The International Face Painting Association. There are also some regions within the UK where individual councils have constructed a policy on safe face painting practices and again, any that I could find online all stated that sponges should not be used on multiple faces. Some countries like Canada have super strict rules on face painting that mean that even brushes cannot be reused without being ‘properly’ cleaned.
It’s not just the kids who are walking buckets of bacteria… we are too! Our own personal hygiene is important also, and where possible, I always wash my hands before setting up my kit. I carry antibacterial hand gel to use between faces, and (now that I’ve mostly ditched my baby wipes thanks to Nat’s campaign) I have a clean cloth for my hands. I can be a kind of messy painter, especially on long and busy jobs and I think it looks bad to be painting and handling face, brushes and sponges with painty hands, so a quick wipe between faces really helps.
People see messy and think dirty. While your table itself is unlikely to get dirty during a job, it may (if you are anything like me) become untidy during a busy gig. Don’t be afraid to take a few minutes to do a quick tidy. I usually allow the next person into the chair and tell them that I am just going to have a quick tidy up. I’ve never had anyone complain about that, and it’s good that your clients see that you are making sure that everything is clean for them.
So there you have it. It’s pretty simple! Start with a clean kit, take steps to keep it clean and safe on the job, and clean properly when you are done, and you shouldn’t go too wrong. If you wouldn’t accept it from a MUA working on your face, then it’s not ok to expect your clients to accept it from you! If you are interested in reading some more opinions and experience about hygiene, I posted a poll in the Face Painting Shop Tips & Tricks group on Facebook which has had over 200 inputs from other painters on how they manage cross contamination risks. It always good to see what other painters are doing and why, so feel free to have a read and add your own comments!
Kit Essentials-cake paints
This week I thought I would continue my ‘kit essentials’ series and talk about my essential cake paints to take on a face paint job.This is pretty much all the cake paints I’ll take on a general paint job, but if I have a themed event I adjust my kit accordingly. I don’t like to take much more paint than this out with me as I use a lot of rainbow and split cakes, and it also helps keep set up and break down times to a minimum.
So this is my set up of my cake paints. They always come out in that order, and then they go back in the bag in this order! I keep the black and white next to the water and arrange them in colour order going away from the water with UV’s on top.
DFX White: Ok, so I’ve tried a fair few whites, and for me, this one comes out on top. I use it for both linework and spongeing on the job. HOWEVER for private appointments,I prefer to use white or very pale foundation (The Stargazer one is fine). It feels much nicer on the skin and takes paint well on top, and won’t sweat off as easily as a painted base.
DFX Black: This is my go to black for on the job. It’s great for line work, and blends out really nicely, and, like the white, I have tried several other blacks, and have come back to this one. However I am yet to come across a matter black than Mehron Paradise Black, which I use a lot for body painting, and for things like skulls and zombies on private bookings where you want more than just linework.
DFX Metallic Silver: Ok, if I’m honest, I don’t use this a lot, but it is useful to have a silver in your kit. I use it for the odd bit of outlining, or if someone wants a robot or something, but mostly, it’s there incase I need to mix it with a flat colour to make it shimmery.
Superstar Glitter Gold: This is such a beautiful colour. I love the softness of Superstar paints, and I love the pigmentation! I have tried a couple of other golds, but since I came across the Superstar Glitter Gold, I haven’t gone back to any other gold paint for face painting.
Global Pearl Baby Blue: This is such a great colour! It makes such a great blue tiger (combined with Cameleon Victorious) as well as the base for my galaxy design, and is great for outlining things like butterflies.
One-Stroke Skeletal Unicorn step-by-step
Updating my one-stroke unicorn for the spooky season. I picked some unusual colour choices to show up against my black practice board but I actually quite like the colourful undead unicorn(??). The head is Global Fun Stroke Kalahari and the hair is Global Fun Stroke Moscow.
-Next you want to layer a row of little U strokes up towards those ears. These will make the vertebrae.
-The head shape is the trickiest part of unicorns. Starting with your brush square on to the ears you just created. The stroke for the front of the head is a very long flat S shape with a curve at the end for the muzzle. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it straight away, using one-stroke is practicing until it’s muscle-memory. Practice on paper if you don’t have a practice board (although I really recommend the Sally Anne Lynch ones, I have 5).
-Finish the head by starting where the last stroke ended and curve it up to back between those ears. There may be a gap between these two strokes but you can fill it in with one corner of your brush later.
-The jaw is just two “Comma” strokes. Flip your brush so the colours are inverted for the second one.
-This is where I filled in the gaps in the head and at the top of the neck.
-The horn is a series of decreasing little U strokes stacked on each other from the base. Horns can really go wrong and either look like the poo swirl emoji (too short) or phallic (too round at the tip). Have a firm hand on your customers head and use your pinky finger as a prop if you’re comfortable.
-For the hair I like to use a one stroke loaded dagger brush. Move the brush in long back and forth waves.
-I also use the dagger brush upside down to detail the hair with the tip. This is also great for tiger whiskers.
-Final details with a number 1 brush in black and white. The eye socket is really far on horses, also they only have a few teeth at the front and a few right at the back of the jaw. The nasal socket is just a V. Highlighting the horn really helps it stand out and look professional. Use the same sort of stroke for segmenting a snake body.
There you have it. One Skeletal Unicorn. Hope this helps diversify your designs this Halloween season.
Rosemary Black x
Diversifying Your Business: running workshops
This week’s blog will talk you through how to earn money through diversifying your business; in particular, teaching children’s face painting workshops.
Kids love to be painted but they love painting themselves even more. From the 4 year old who instantly becomes Hulk with a muddy-green, watery face to the quiet pre-teen, carefully creating her festival design, face painting is magical to children, especially for those who aren’t encouraged or able to get painty or glittery at home.
If you choose to run a learn to face paint workshop I guarantee places will fill. Here is my guide to making your sessions a success, based on my own experience and my training as a Primary teacher. Choose the best time for your workshop. After school and weekends are too busy for most families and the Christmas holidays are already an expensive time of year. Half terms and Summer holidays are perfect.Keep the sessions short, children finish activities at different speeds and you don’t want kids sitting bored for half an hour. Have extra activities for early finishers.Make a list of rules and email them to the parent or carer so they all know the expectations regarding health and safety, allergies, behaviour etc.
Make sure you have enough resources – kids like to gouge their way through your paints. I use snazaroo rounds cut in half and joined together with another colour to make cheap, effective rainbow cakes. Don’t throw away any of your old face painting brushes, give them a new lease of life – make sure kids have access to a flat and a round and maybe a petal brush too. Sponges, water pots, towels for spillages and that’s your lot. If you want to ramp it up a bit grab some glitter guns, stencils and bio chunky glitter.
If you’re teaching older children, teens and adults, the Training Tried and Tested boards by Sally-Ann Lynch are perfect. Younger children like to take their work home with them so cut up large squares of baking parchment and draw felt tip faces on.
Keep your teaching pacey and simple but have stretching tasks for the more able.
Invest in sturdy stand up bathroom mirrors so they can paint their own faces if they want to.
Consider making up some mini kits that the children can take home.
You can make up little samples of the products used in the workshop so they can practise their new skills. For Halloween my mini kits contain samples of wax, blood, zombie skin and siliglass. Charge for these, they’re not freebies! Wrapping a bow around the box them makes them attractive too. If you use business cards, pop one in each kit.
If the workshops are profitable why not offer ‘family’ facepaint workshops, gore and sfx or teen only sessions? Above all else have fun, enjoy helping others and don’t forget to take lots of photos to use for Marketing, you’ll want to do it all again next holiday…
Is this something you already do? Leave a comment and share your top tips and experiences, I’d love to hear from you.
FACE PAINTING BY JONI
Hello everyone! By now I’m sure you are all in full swing preparing for the Halloween madness to begin. I know that Halloween is a crazy time of year for the girls in the shop too and that they are all working flat out to get orders out to you all! For those of you who don’t know, The Face Painting shop is the brainchild of Nathalie Farmer, and this week, I have interviewed Nathalie about the journey so far, plans for the future and everything in between.
So Nathalie… where did it all start? Were you a jobbing face painter in your past life?
“Well, it all really started back at college when I was 17. I was a media makeup student, and when I finished my course, I started body painting and doing special effects work. I quickly realised that there was good money in face painting, so I added that into the mix too.
Do you still paint?
“Yes! Not as much as I probably should though. I mainly paint when I’m teaching, and at Halloween. I tend to do more SFX work now.”
When did you decide to start the shop?
“Two words…. BAD BACK! I was doing so much face painting work that my back started to give me big problems, so I needed to reduce the work and therefore find something to boost my income. It started as an online shop, which quickly grew into a monster… all from my dining room at home! We were running online for around 18 months before I decided to open the shop in Essex.”
Was that a scary step for you?
“Not me! Everyone else thought I was crazy and 99% of people tried to talk me out of it. Luckily, I’m very stubborn so I didn’t actually listen to any of them!”
So what was your vision when you first started out? Did you ever imagine that the business would grow the way it has?
“That’s a hard one! Honestly, I never really looked too far into the future. I took every day as it came, but it was definitely a lot harder than I thought it would be. I think my main vision was a one stop shop… I didn’t take into consideration how much work that involved and what that actually meant all that time ago.”
What are your goals for the business in the next 5 years? Any new ventures up your sleeve?
“Oooh… goals… YES! Ventures… YES! And that’s as much as you are getting from me on that one!”
2018 has been a big year for you with the launch of your new company, Eleven16, providing studio space and top quality training for face, body and hair artists... How has that been going?
“Great guns! We have been so busy in the studio. We had Heather Green teaching there last week, her first time in the new studios! We also have plans for more international instructors for 2019 so watch this space. The next plan for the studio is AirCon... it was seriously hot up there all summer!”
Where did the name for the studio come from?
“It’s my son’s birthday, reversed!”
Do you have any plans to open some new branches or will you always be an Essex shop? (Hint, hint…ahem NORTHERNIRELAND...ahem)
“I have been asked this question so many times! Being a bit of a control freak, it would be really hard for me to have another shop that I couldn’t give 100% as I do with the shop now. Having said that, I would love to open another in the future one… Maybe Northern Ireland!?”
The Face Painting shop has won a lot of awards. What do you attribute that to?
“I think that the awards come when they can see our dedication and passion.”
So what do you love most about your job?
“Oooh, definitely working with my team. I have an amazing team around me and that is crucial to our success.”
Would you change anything about it if you could?
“Haha.. Should I answer that honestly? The one thing I would change would be having an outgoing email only. No incoming emails!”
I get that! I think that’s part of why the business has been so successful though. You are very ‘present’ and active on social media
“Absolutely. I have a love-hate relationship with social media. There have been times when it’s driven me to tears, and other times where it has made me laugh until I cried. It is a ’must’ in business though, so I have to suck up the back times and move on. I think it is very important for me to be involved at all levels. I even unblocked the toilet this morning!
How many hours do you work in an average week?
“Around 55, including working at home and in the shop or studio.”
So what do you think makes a successful painter?
“A successful painter needs to be memorable, and have a great website. I always say that a client will remember you, more than the perfect butterfly you painted with all the extras. It’s about more than just the standard of your painting.”
What are the 3 top selling products from The Face Painting Shop’s range?
“The Face Painting Shop pink tip brushes, DFX white 90g and Global one stroke Palettes!”
This is a hard one, given that you know every colour of every brand of paint out there, but black and white aside, what is your single favourite colour of paint?
“Global Dark Blue! It’s got me out of some scrapes before!”
In your opinion, what would you say is the best brand for bases / sponging, and the best brand for line work?
“I have two! Superstar for metallic, and Global for flat colours, and for line work!”
Ok, some quick-fire random questions for you! What is your biggest fear?
Your most useless talent?
“I actually have no idea!”
Your biggest pet peeve?
“Definitely bad manners… I hate bad manners!”
Any annoying habits?
If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be, and why?
“Ooooh this is a hard one. I’d love to live in a tropical country near the sea so I could go diving every day!”
I loved your recent diving photos! Is diving something you have always done?
“Yes! I love it. I feel at peace when I’m diving. My love for the ocean has always been huge.”
What else do you like to do in your spare time?
“I don’t have much! I love to take my son, Ronnie, clay pigeon shooting. It’s something he really loves to do. On occasions… go down the pub and get more than drunk!”
You and Ronnie seem to have a great relationship!
“Oh we are very tight. We always have been! I think it helps that he is super laid back”
What was the last thing that you googled?
What was the last photo that you took on your phone?
“A unicorn cup! Not mine… unfortunately!”
(At this point in the interview, my 9 year old joined me and asked some questions of her own!)
If you opened a themed hotel, what would the theme be and what would the rooms look like?
“Good question Ruby! It would have to be a mermaid hotel... Everywhere would look like it does under the ocean!”
Describe yourself in 5 words…
“Driven, passionate, Eccentric, Loyal, and eatstoomanycarbs lol!
What’s the best joke you know?
“Hahahah… I’m actually really crap at jokes! I don’t know any!”
What were you like as a child, and what did you want to be when you grew up?
“Angelic obviously… actually I was very stubborn and defiant. I wanted to be a vet but quickly realised that I didn’t have the brain power! (Bad DNA!)”
What advice would you give to your younger self?
“Carry on doing what you are doing! I wouldn’t change a single thing. I’ve made some crappy choices in my life so far, but that’s all part of who I am today.”
“What’s your favourite food?
And your tipple of choice?
“Pink Gin, Brandy or Pernod!”
What charity do you most support?
“This is an easy one for me… Kidney Research. My son Ronnie only has one kidney, and that is in his pelvis. I also support Macmillan.”
What is your current favourite TV show?
“Keeping up with the Kardashians!”
And one final question… What single piece of advice do you think that beginners and seasoned pros alike can benefit from?
“Get a great website! I often see painters saying that they are struggling to find work yet they don’t have a website and are relying on Facebook for jobs. Sometimes the best painters in the world are actually terrible business people. It’s a hard balance to find!”
That’s all from Nathalie, but I have some more interviews, with more industry big names coming up soon, so stay tuned! Thanks for reading and good luck for the Halloween Madness!
Every year we hear the cry’s from self-employed face painters wanting a Christmas works doo...
We herd those cry’s and are hosting the ultimate works Christmas party for you all.
Drinks, food and surprises will be waiting for you all, this is your official invite to come and let your hair down for the evening with us and your industry friends.
We are collecting for help the homeless on the night so if you have anything you would like to donate (not money) warm clothes, blankets, non-perishable food items these will be more than welcomed.
Hello from rainy Belfast! Autumn is here, and for us painters, that means one thing only. HALLOWEEN! I’m going to admit right here, that I don’t especially like Halloween! It is great for business, and it is nice to be able to work on more detailed ‘one off’ faces rather than the usual party scene faces, but scary faces aren’t really my ‘thing’, and I do get a little frustrated by the seemingly endless stream of people sending photoshopped images from Pinterest and expecting me to recreate it with paint, for a fiver! That said, I am grateful to always be busy at Halloween, and I tend to work from home with private bookings now rather than take on events etc., which is nice, and saves a lot of running around from venue to venue.
This week I’m going to demo my super-fast ‘Walking Dead’ style zombie face, which is great for busy events, but still looks great. It doesn’t require any special effects materials, and can be produced in a few minutes. The beauty of faces like this is there is no right or wrong way to do them. The scruffier the better and each one is different to the one before. I had planned to do this as a live video but in my post flu comeback, I still sound like Gollum, so I’ve done it as a step by step with photos. Honestly though, experiment, have fun, throw some paint around and find what works for you!
Global Light Blue
Global Lime green
Superstar Old Red (127)
Grimas Stipple sponge
Lowe Cornell size 2 round brushes (I have one specifically for white and one for black)
TFPS pink tip brush flora size 6
TFPS pink tip brush round size 4
Apply a semi translucent white base all over the face. I use snazaroo for fast bases and for children as it is fast and easy to apply, and, being glycerine rather than wax based, feels more comfortable on the skin. It is the only Snazaroo paint that I use, and although I have experimented with various other brands, this remains my favourite for fast light bases. The base doesn’t need to be perfect as it will largely be covered, but you want your zombie to have a pale background.
Load your sponge with the light blue, yellow and lime green paint and apply in random areas of the face. I tend to stick to areas that you want to highlight, like cheekbones, temples, forehead, nose and chin.
Lightly load a sponge with the Superstar Old Red, and use this to colour the eye sockets, cheeks and any other random area you fancy.
Load the stipple sponge with a mix of the Paradise Black and Superstar Old Red, and use this to add detail to some areas of the face, giving the effect of dried blood and scuffs.
Add some eyebrows. I always think that the eyebrows look a bit harsh when I’m adding them, but, having experimented with them a little, I find that the overall effect is better when they are dark and a bit severe.
Use the Global Red with the flora brush to add some cuts / scratches across the face. These can be anywhere you like, but I tend to do them diagonally across the face and one eye. Using a thin – thick – thin brush stroke you can get a more realistic looking scratch.
Roughly outline the scratches with the Number 2 brush loaded with some old red, and add some dfx white highlights. This gives the wounds some depth and gives a wet blood effect.
Using a very watery load of the Superstar Old Red paint, lay down some colour around the scratches. I find that outlining them, leaving a clear area between the wound edges and the Old Red wash, helps make them look swollen.
Using the DFX Black, draw some curved lines as stitches, and again, highlight these with the DFX white.
Using a sponge, roughly apply some Paradise Black to the mouth area, extending outwards and upwards under the cheekbone area. This is the base for the teeth, so it will be largely covered and doesn’t need to be perfect, but it does help to make sure that both sides of the face match.
Load the flora brush well with DFX white, and press the brush onto the lips and face to represent the teeth. I’m going to hazard a guess that zombies typically do not have perfect teeth, so don’t panic if they aren’t Hollywood worthy. I like to roughly outline some / all of the teeth for definition, extending the outline into a point above / below each tooth to add some depth.
Using the number 2 brush, loaded with DFX Black, add some fine wrinkles in the areas which would typically wrinkle, such as the forehead, bridge of nose, around the eyes and nose. As with the stitches, add some tiny highlights in DFX White to create some depth
Using your stipple sponge, add some more scraping to any areas which look a bit bare
Using the number 2 brush and some DFX Black, add some nostrils. I like to smudge these a little for a less uniform look.
Load the round size 4 brush with the global red. You will need to make sure that it is quite a watery load. Use this to add blood details. I like to have blood coming from the eyes and nose, and around the mouth area.
Reload the brush with an even more watery load of global, and use this to flick paint at the face, giving the effect of blood splatters!
So there you have it! A super-fast zombie that takes just a few minutes to produce, and looks great! Where you have more time, you can add more detail, but don’t get hung up on perfection. The best part of this design is that imperfections are all part of being a zombie!
I hope that this is useful for you guys, and I would love to see your versions if you give it a go!
Next week I will be interviewing our very own Nathalie Farmer for my blog post, so if anyone has anything that they would like to know about her, please drop me a PM!
How To Clean Your Face Painting Brushes – By Jane Harding
Hello everyone! Welcome to my weekly blog. If you have read my others, then ‘Thanks, I’m so glad you’re back’…. And if this is your first time, then ‘Welcome, it’s great to have you here’!
Last week I blogged about face paint and my favourite things of all… BRUSHES!
So to keep a little on topic, I wanted to talk about some of my recommended best practice… brush cleaning. Now I don’t want to be teaching people to suck eggs… I imagine the hordes of experienced painters out there, could teach me a thing or two about caring for my brushes and kit, so PLEASE, if you have any additional tips, I would love to hear about them, let me know in the comments below.
However; I have seen the question asked a few times within several face painting groups on FB, especially from newer painters, about how they should clean their brushes. So, I am going to go through a quick Step By Step of what I do.
In my opinion, best practice would be to clean your brushes after every job, as soon as you get home!
Nothing damages your precious tools as much as allowing them to sit damp and then dry with remnants of paint and bacteria on, bacteria which will inevitably be there, no matter how careful we are about avoiding cross contamination. If left to dry without proper care, this is when our brushes can lose their shape and will ultimately shorten their lifespan. So my Top Tip: Clean your brushes after every job and as soon as possible.
Not only will regular cleaning ensure you won’t have to replace them frequently, it has other benefits too:
It looks so much more professional to have a clean kit/brushes
Your brushes will keep their shape and will be easier to use
You avoid spreading germs into your paints and to customers
People will notice how sparkly they are and their comments will give you the warm fuzzies!
Before we start… Top Tip: I keep all my brush cleaning bits and bobs by my kitchen sink. No, it doesn’t look aesthetically pleasing, but as a full time face painter, they are something I use all the time and it makes my life easier to have them ready to go!
These are the main tools I use: Brush soap, Brush Cleaning Egg, Brush Drying Rack.
You can of course clean your brushes without the little cleaning egg, but again, I have it to make my life easier and the process quicker. For less than a couple of pounds, I think they are well worth it.
I also didn’t have the drying wrack for a long time, but I picked it up really cheap on the high street and I have to say, I highly recommend getting one. It stops the water sitting in the ferrule which can damage your brushes.
Also, as you can see I have a tub with a secure lid that I transport my brushes in. This is something I have just invested in; I purely use it to transfer my dirty brushes home. Previously I would roll them in a towel, but found they stayed really damp and the bristles got bent, which is something you really want to avoid. The tub with lid is so far working really well for me.
So here we go…
How I Clean My Brushes – Step By Step
Using hot/warm water make sure the bristles of your brush are thoroughly wet. Then one brush at a time, coat the bristles in brush soap. If your brushes still have a lot of paint on them, you may want to rinse them a couple of times to remove the excess. Once they look similar to how I have my brush in the picture above, set each brush aside on a paper towel whilst you coat each brush in soap.
One at a time take each brush and work the soap into the bristles using the brush cleaning egg. Massage the bristles along the different grooves to really work that soap in and try and agitate them enough to remove as much paint and dirt as possible. Top Tip: Although it’s tempting, try and avoid scrubbing the bristles too hard, this could cause unwanted damage.
At this point I also ensure the handles are nice and clean, if needed I give them a little rub with soap using my fingers.
Rinse! Using warm water thoroughly rinse each brush, ensuring all traces of soap has been removed.
Dry off any excess water using a clean tea towel or paper towel. As you do this, reshape each brush. For round brushes pull and twist them along the towel to recreate a nice point on the end, for flat brushes pull them along the towel on each side to recreate the sharp edge.
Step 5: (optional)
If you notice any brushes that have completely lost their shape, then they may need a little extra help. (I’ve noticed that UV Paint can make my brushes lose shape, especially after a busy UV Party and it’s the only paint I’ve used. I’m not sure why this is; it appears to me that the UV Paint dries faster on the bristles, so I think this could be the reason. If you have any knowledge about this, please let me know in the comments below, I’d love to know if others have experienced the same). Anyway, I use a Brush Shaper (as pictured) but if you are unable to find this, you can alternatively use hot water. You simply dip the bristles in the Brush Shaper liquid or hot water and then reshape them and leave to dry. If you use the Brush Shaper, ensure you wash it off once it’s dried and before you use the brush on a job.
Hang them out to dry! Where at all possible dry you brushes upside down so any excess water can drain out of the Ferrule. If you don’t have one of these funky little brush holders, then alternatively you could lay them on a towel, but make sure it’s a clean and completely dry so your handles won’t absorb the moisture from the damp towel, this can lead to the paint on your handles peeling off.
And that my friend is it… couldn’t be easier and once you get into a routine, it really doesn’t take that long. Plus, when you put them all away, they will look so sparkly and beautiful, you’ll want to put them on your mantelpiece so you can look at them all the time… or is that just me?! :-b
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