makeup brush

(GIF: Giphy)

I think it’s pretty safe to say that I’m an inherently lazy person. If given the option, I would always rather sit than stand for three stops on the subway, I’m a huge proponent of putting off exercise (thought I’ve genuinely been trying to quit that one), and when it comes to makeup brushes, I’d say it’s an accomplishment if I clean them once a year. I just never really see the point of cleaning something that’s just going to get dirty again the next day. But, considering all of the horror stories that have been coming out as of late with regard to women not cleaning their brushes properly (or at all), I figured it was time to change. And since I know myself and knew that I wasn’t going to go and clean my brushes on my own when there’s so much to watch on Netflix, I decided to pick up a machine that would do it for me. Because this is America, and if you want something done, there’s technology for it.

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Enter the BrushPearl. According to its website, the BrushPearl is,

“…the first tool that automatically cleans, freshens, and conditions your makeup and cosmetic brushes with the use of ultrasonic technology and BrushPearl cleanser.”

Basically, it sounded like the lazy girl’s way out of the tedious task of scrubbing her obscene amount of cosmetic brushes clean. The catch? It’s $99 for the machine, and an extra $9 for the cleaner. At prices like that, it’d better be a damn good toy.

After getting in touch with some representatives of the brand, I got my hands on my very own BrushPearl. Here’s how it looks when you take it out of the box:

brush pearl

That’s right: it basically looks like a toaster. Because of this, my initial fear was that I was going to wind up with fried and mangled brushes at the end of the cleaning process, but I suspended judgment. Oh, and here’s the $9 cleanser:

brushpearl cleanser

I was pretty pleased to see that, for almost ten bucks, you’re getting a pretty decent amount of cleanser. That said, it smelled like your average dish soap, and if Dawn is safe enough to use on ducklings and otters after oil spills, I’m sure it’s fine to use on your brushes. (If you want to go really official, there are lots of high-end beauty brands that have their own brush cleaners for purchase.)

Since the machine didn’t look like it could hold too many brushes and I was a bit skeptical as to how well it would work, I only selected a few of my less-important brushes. Here they are in all their filthy glory:

dirty brushes

They may not seem too bad, but the tips of the two brushes on the left used to be white, the buffing brush (third from the left) is so stiff from BB cream that I find it hard to use, and I haven’t cleaned my blush brush (the big pink one) in at least a year. I promise I’m an otherwise sanitary and hygienic human, though.

With nothing but dirty brushes in front of me and the hope for clean ones in the future, I got started!

Click to the next page to see how the BrushPearl works, and how everything worked out!

The instructions were simple: Pour two capfuls of cleanser into the bin of the BrushPearl, swirl the brushes in the cleanser, then pop them into the slats on the top of the machine according to size. The instructions also prompted me to make sure that the brushes didn’t touch the bottom of the basin, which proved difficult considering how uncoordinated I am. After about five minutes of struggling, I got the brushes in place:

brush pearl in action

From there, you pour in enough water to fill the space between the Min and Max line on the inside of the basin (they’re very easy to see, despite the photo), which, for your records, is about one full Poland Spring water bottle. Once all the prepping is done, close the top, plug in the BrushPearl and set the timer! For first-time use, they recommended setting it for 10 minutes, or 600 seconds. The standard time setting, though, is about three minutes.

You’ll know it’s working when the timer starts counting down and you can see a blue LED light through the slats:

brush pearl closed

You’ll also know it’s working because it makes the most horrifying buzzing noise ever. I seriously thought I was going to open up the machine after 10 minutes to find my brushes ripped to shreds.

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Alas, the brushes were fine, and after 10 minutes I drained the dirty water out of the machine. It was immediately apparent that the BrushPearl had worked well: the bristles on the contouring and stippling brushes had returned to their original white color, and I could actually see the alarming number of flecks of blush that had remained in my blush brush swimming around the basin.

After that, you refill the basin with warm water and rinse the brushes for three minutes. Once the timer has run down, I emptied the water again and used the kickstand on the inside of the lid to create a nifty little drying rack:

brush pearl drying

Pro tip: it’s impossible to not get water all over the machine and/or your kitchen counter when emptying the water out of the BrushPearl, so arm yourself with plenty of towels.

I let the brushes dry overnight, and when I checked on them this morning, here’s what I found:

clean brushes

My brushes had been restored to their former clean glory! The denser ones, namely the buffing brush and the blush brush, were still a little damp, but that’s to be expected. Otherwise, the brushes were soft, clean, and fresh, which was exactly what I was hoping for.

(Related: Everything You Need to Know About Your Makeup Brushes, But Were Too Embarrassed to Ask)

That said, I’m not without complaints. For instance, when I clean my brushes with normal soap and water, or just with my standard method of soaking them in a big plastic Tupperware of cleanser and water, I can wash all of my brushes at once. With the BrushPearl, I was limited to the space the machine allowed, which isn’t ideal considering how long each brush takes to dry and how frequently I use my brushes. Also, I had to actively resist taking the contour brush out and washing it on its own for the sake of the experiment. You see, it’s shorter than the rest of the brushes, and as a result, didn’t touch the cleanser for the entire 10 minutes. It obviously didn’t end up being too much of a problem, but it’s still inconvenient.

So, what’s the verdictI’ll be honest: if you weren’t going to clean your brushes all that often before, this tool won’t make you do it. The BrushPearl is not without its flaws, and the machine is bulky and a bit of a hassle. It snapped shut on my fingers when I was emptying the water more times than I cared for. That said, I do feel confident that the BrushPearl did a better job of cleaning my brushes than I can do myself, which is a pretty great perk. Basically, if you’ve taken the time to invest in high quality brushes and you want to make sure they last as long as possible, I’d definitely consider shelling out for the BrushPearl. But if you’re more of a cheap, drugstore brush kinda gal (nothing wrong with that!), maybe just stick to dish soap and warm water. In the end though, the BrushPearl restored my makeup brushes, and I can’t be mad about that.

Click here to learn more about the BrushPearl Automatic Makeup Brush Cleaner!