We’re fussy about out tools – never more so than when it comes to our acrylic brushes. Experts may weigh in, but ultimately how you care for your brush is a matter of personal preference. Here’s how your fellow techs clean and store their brushes, and what the experts have to add to the debate.
The Tech’s Take on Brush Care
Mary Metscaviz, Awesome Nails, Grayslake, Ill.: I clean my brush with monomer after each use. I never use acetone or brush cleaner. If monomer won’t clean your brush you are not applying your acrylic correctly. My brush is my friends and considering the cost of a good brush today, it’s worth it to treat it with care. I always roll my brush to a point after each use, then replace the metal cap. I store them (one for art and one for each brand of acrylic) with the tip up in a cup within my desk.
Becky Bence, Salon 505 The Day Spa, Austin, Texas: I have used acetone to clean my brush for years. I clamp the handle of the brush with a clothespin and lay the clothespin across a small bottle of acetone so the brush soaks, but the handle stays dry. I leave the brush in the acetone until I need it for my next client. It is probably not the most brush-friendly way, but it has worked for me for the past 20 plus years. I often store my brush upside down from the springs of my swing-arm lamp.
Pam Karousis, Nail Designs, Cortland, Ohio: I use monomer to clean my brush after each client. If I check it and if it feels clumpy or sticky, I will use pure acetone to clean it, the dip it in monomer and wipe the excess out. I always store my brush bristle side down in an acrylic makeup brush stand. Once in a while I will put a little solar oil on my brush and work it in. this keeps it conditioned.
Carrie Kohuch, About U Salon & Spa, South Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada: We clean our brushes in acetone. I have found this works best. We make sure there is no acrylic remaining in the brush and we store them in a dust-free drawer.
What the Experts Say
Vicki Peters, vice president of the Vicki Peters Signature Series, Kupa: Brush care should be constant. Always wipe your brush on a clean spot on your table towel as you work and wipe it after you place the ball of product on the nail. Do not wipe in the same spot, as it will absorb older liquid and you won’t get a good pull from the towel and product can get stuck. At the end of the service wipe out your dappen dish (as it may have acrylic residue in the bottom) and pour in a little fresh monomer to clean your brush. Then wipe the brush on a clean spot on the table towel and fold the towel over the top of the brush and press you finger on the towel as you pull the brush out. Then re-dip the brush in the clean monomer and roll it to a point before storing it. I would never put my acrylic brush in acetone. If I needed to soak out any hardened acrylic, I would suspend it in liquid monomer.
Gari-Dawn Tingler, director of education, A.I.I.: Professional brushes should be cleaned with monomer as much as possible. It will keep the brush clean. You can use acetone, but it will dry out the bristles over time.
Paul Bryson, director of R&D, OPI: OPI recommends against using monomer to clean your brush to avoid the possibility of contaminating of the next set. Acetone dissolves acrylic leftovers quite well and it is a very “green” solvent – it breaks down quite cleanly in the atmosphere. However, it dries out the brushes, so our brush cleaner includes a bristle conditioner called ethyoxydiglycol. One point I’d like to make is that acrylic brushes do not require disinfection and should never be dipped into a disinfectant. The acrylic monomer is hostile to microbes so disinfection is completely unnecessary.
Doug Schoon, VP/science and technology, Creative Nail Design: Techs should clean their brushes in the monomer they work with to prevent damage to the hair. They should also store the brush lying flat, so that excess monomer can’t leak back into the ferrule. When this builds up, it can run back down into the brush and cause discoloration. Also, it should be covered so that it is not exposed to dust and debris.