How to Clean an Acrylic Nail Brush
Whether you’re a nail art enthusiast or a professional working in a salon, taking care of the nail brushes you use is important. When acrylic residue hardens in brush bristles, it can be tough to clean and may damage the bristle fibers.
Removing this hardened residue gently and properly can help restore your acrylic nail brush so it can be used again. Cleaning nail brushes regularly will also help keep brush bristles soft and flexible, and prolong their lifespan.
Using Monomer to Clean Your Brush
Check if your brush came with specific care instructions for cleaning first.
If your brush has natural hair bristles, like sable or kolinsky acrylic brushes, monomer is recommended as a gentler process compared to professional brush cleaner. Synthetic hair brushes are more resilient, so monomer or professional brush cleaner can be used.
Monomer is sometimes chosen over professional brush cleaners that contain acetone, which can dehydrate natural hair bristles.
Fill a small dish or bowl with clean monomer.
Monomer is also called “acrylic liquid” or “monomer liquid” on some products. Monomer is used in a formula to create acrylic nails, but can also be used to clean your nail brushes too.
Use a separate bottle of monomer that is only used for cleaning brushes, not for nail care. This separate bottle will be less exposed to other chemicals or contaminants and will work well as a cleanser.
Let the brush bristles soak in the monomer for 1 hour.
It’s easiest to clean brushes soon after use. But if polish has hardened on the brush and caused buildup, let the brush soak in the monomer overnight. Soaking it for a longer period of time will make the buildup easier to wash out of the bristles.
Remove and rinse the brush bristles with warm water.
Don’t pull on the bristles to try and scrub them. Pulling on bristles can damage them or cause them to fall out.
If the brush bristles are misshapen, place a drop of mild liquid soap on the brush tip and very gently rub the bristles back into shape.Let the soap sit in the bristles for 48 hours. Then rinse the brush with warm water.
Allow the brush to air dry completely.
Lay it flat on a surface that will absorb excess moisture, like a cloth or towel. Don’t squeeze the bristles to get rid of excess moisture. This can damage the bristles and bend them out of shape again.
Soak the brush bristles in fresh monomer for 2 hours before removing to air dry.
After removing your brush from the monomer, allow it to lay flat until the monomer has evaporated completely. If you store it upright too early, the metal section attached to the bristles (the ferrule) can fill with monomer and contaminate your tools.
Cleaning Your Brush with Brush Cleaner
Follow any care instructions that came with your brush.
Many professional brush cleaners contain acetone, which can cause brushes with natural hair bristles to dry out.Experiment with different methods of cleaning and choose a method based on your preferences and brush type.
Brushes with synthetic fibers are more durable against brush cleaners compared to natural hair brushes.
Fill a small dish or bowl with a small amount of brush cleaner.
Use just enough cleaner to submerge the brush bristles. If you use too much cleaner in your dish or bowl, the metal section that joins the bristles to the rest of the brush (the ferrule) can become wet and hard to get dry.
A small clear measuring bowl or shot glass can be used to hold the brush cleaner. Since they are clear, it’s easier to measure the appropriate amount of brush cleaner.
Swish the bristles in the brush cleaner gently for 2 minutes. Submerging the bristles in the brush cleaner will soften any hardened polish built up on your brush. Using a back-and-forth motion will allow the brush cleaner to soak into the bristles.
Scrape the acrylic off the bristles gently using a wooden tool.
This is easily done by lightly pressing the brush tip against a flat surface so the bristles fan out. On a flat surface, the brush cleaner will also remain pooled around the bristles, keeping them moist and encouraging the softened acrylic to release.
Using a wooden tool like orangewood rather than a metal tool like a cuticle pusher will prevent damage to the bristle tips.
Don’t scrape the bristles too hard with your wooden tool, which can also cause damage to the bristle tips.
Press the bristles between two paper towels.
Gently squeezing the brush tip this way will remove the brush cleaner from the bristles. Be sure to press the bristles in their natural direction. Using an upward motion against the direction of the hairs may bend them out of shape.
Dip the bristles in monomer and press them to reshape.
Using the same pressing motion with paper towels, gently reshape your brush. Allow your brush to lay flat so the monomer can completely evaporate. Store it flat or upright in a holder, brush tip facing up, to prevent damage to the bristles.
It’s a Hard Knock Life, For Brush: Picking and Caring for Nail Brushes
As a nail technician and nail artist you understand the importance of a good brush as much as having the right brush for the right job. You most likely have an arsenal of brushes ranging in size, shape, and hair — specifically for acrylics, gels, nail art, etc.
Whether you are a painter of canvas, fingernails, or a sculptor of acrylic enhancements, it’s important to take the best care you can of your brushes so they can have a long shelf life.
Here are some tips to help keep your brushes in the best possible condition.
Sable and Kolinsky Acrylic Brushes
- Sable and kolinsky are small forest animals related to badgers, weasels, ferrets, wolverines, and minks — and they are valued for their fur.
- They have been favored amongst artists for hundreds of years, most notably for their superior strength and resilience. But to ensure a prolonged life and optimal performance, proper care and maintenance must be observed.
- Avoid skin contact with the bristles whenever possible. Oils from the body can deteriorate the bristles over time.
- Use monomer for cleaning sable and kolinsky acrylic brushes whenever possible.
- Do not use acetone. Even just one washing in acetone can dehydrate the bristles enough to affect their performance. Acetone strips the brush of its natural moisture. Once the bristles become dehydrated, they will be unable to hold liquids, rendering the brush useless.
Acetone will also dissolve the glue that holds the bristles into the ferrule (the metal band that holds the bristles and attaches them to the handle).
- Keep a separate bottle of monomer that’s used only for cleaning brushes — not for nail services.
Synthetic bristles are a favored choice for working with gel. They are durable and hold up well to commercial cleaners.
They also don’t have to be cleaned as thoroughly as a sable acrylic brush.
Alcohol can actually be used to remove most of the gel from the bristles, and the brushes can always be stored upright as alcohol evaporates much more quickly than monomer.
To clean a gel brush, simply swish it back and forth in cleaner or alcohol and press dry between two pieces of paper towel.
Nail Art Brushes
Nail art brushes are usually thinner for more detailed work. Some are as tiny as four or five hairs thick.
Extreme care must be given to these types of brushes.
Some cannot afford to even have one or two bristles mangled. How you clean these brushes depends on what they’re used for. For example if you’re using detail brushes with nail polish, it’s recommended that you purchase a set of inexpensive ones, as the only way to remove nail polish is with polish remover or acetone. This will of course deteriorate the bristles.
If you’re using the brush with a water-based medium, swish it slightly in soapy lukewarm water, rinse in cool water, and reshape with a dry paper towel.
How To Remove Hardened Acrylic From Sable/Kolinsky Bristles
1. Swish the bristles back and forth in brush cleaner for one to two minutes to soften the acrylic. Then lightly press the brush onto a flat surface and allow the bristles to fan out naturally. You want a flat surface to keep the brush cleaner pooled around the bristles.
2. Use a wooden tool (orangewood or popsicle sticks work best) to very gently scrape off the softened acrylic. Repeat this until all traces of acrylic have been removed from the bristles.
Scraping too hard or using a metal tool can cause the flags (tips of the bristles) to become flared.
3. Once you have removed all traces of acrylic, press the bristles in their natural direction between two paper towels to remove the cleaner. Dip the brush in monomer and use a paper towel to reshape the bristles. Store the brush flat until the monomer has evaporated, then store upright.
Storing brushes upright before the monomer has evaporated will cause the ferrule to fill with monomer, which won’t let it evaporate and can contaminate your brush and dappen dish.
Cleaning Nail Art Brushes
Never clean or submerge brushes in scalding or boiling water — the ferrule can expand and cause the bristles to fall out. Never leave any brush resting on its bristles in cleaner or not.
1. Clean your brush in a small dish with cold water after each stroke while you’re working.
2. Pat or wipe the brush on a clean paper towel and pull the bristles together between your thumb and index finger to take out excess water and reform the original shape of the brush.
3. After a couple of weeks your brushes should be cleaned in isopropyl alcohol, which removes dry paint that may remain either on the bristles or paint that seeped into the ferrule.
- After cleaning with alcohol, you must rinse out your brushes with cold water to make sure all the alcohol is removed.
- After removing all the water from your brushes you may place them in a brush roll-up, leaving.
The Right Brush
You’ve heard of the right stuff, well what about the right brush? When it comes to nail art, it isn’t a one-brush-will-do kind of situation. With the proper brush, a tech can create everything from thin detailed lines, to color-blended shadows, and even elaborate flowers.
Here’s a guide to help you choose the right brush for your special designs.
How It’s Used: Excellent for short strokes, a liner brush can be used to draw smile lines and details. It’s accurate for outlining images and adding contours.
How It’s Used: The shader brush is great for backgrounds and for drawing larger images. This brush is versatile in that it can be loaded with two different colors on its sides.
How It’s Used: For an airbrushed effect, the fan brush can streak color on the nail. Various colors can be blended with this brush and colors can be layered in gradual tones.
How It’s Used: Zigzag or swirl, the marbler brush can mix and blend colors together in an interesting design. Whether the colors are swirled on the nail plate or in a water solution, the marbler blends colors in a free, uneven pattern.
The marbler can also be used to make dot flowers.
Crooked Detailer Brush
How It’s Used: Providing an angular tip, this brush easily paints fine details and outlines. It can also be used in a more upright position and can be used to add highlights.
How It’s Used: The detailer brush can be used for intricate work and is especially suited to drawing delicate flowers. Flower petals can easily be painted by placing the brush flat and lifting it straight up.
How It’s Used: Efficient for elongated lines, the striper brush creates long vertical or horizontal lines. Whether a thin or thick line is desired, the width is determined by the amount of paint on the bristles.
How It’s Used: A shorter version of the striper brush, the stripette creates the same vertical and horizontal lines but in shorter strokes. The stripette is great for drawing wisps and netting.
Grass Comb Brush
How It’s Used: For detailed dry brush techniques, this brush has separated bristles for easy application. It creates an airbrushed effect with a swipe of the brush.
How It’s Used: Its angled head creates intricate detailed designs. Bristles are cut at a 45° angle for control when drawing at a slant.