Spring Cleaning Makeup Brushes

with No Comments

Makeup brushes are a breeding ground for dirt, oil and bacteria. It’s recommended you wash your brushes daily. But let’s be honest, nobody has time for that. I spend close to an hour doing my makeup, I’m already late for whatever event I’m supposed to go to, I’m not about to take the time to wash my brushes too. So here’s a more realistic time line.

Liquid Foundation Brushes/Sponges – Daily (Like, actually. It’s gross to put on yesterday’s caked on makeup)

Powder Brushes, Eye-shadow brushes – 2-4 weeks, As long as you don’t have a cut or a popped pimple, powder brushes can be extended a little longer. Helpful tip to keep brushes germ-free, when dusting off excess powder off a brush, DO NOT blow on them, you’re breathing germs onto your brush this way! Tap the barrel of the brush on the back of your hand to remove excess powder. I will also tap off the brush before using it.

Liquid liner/Brow Brushes - <1 week. These tend to get goopy and caked with product, keep these clean so that your eyeliner and brows are always sharp and flawless.

Shopper Drug Mart’s beauty brand, Quo came out with a brush cleaning shampoo and a silicon brush cleaning mat. The shampoo cleans and conditions both natural and synthetic brushes. The argan oil helps nourish the brush hairs and keeps them soft and not bristly. The formulation is perfect for brush cleaning because it doesn’t foam or form a ton of suds, like a traditional shampoo. This makes rinsing the product out easier. The second is a silicon mat with varying raised textured surfaces. This provides a clean area where you can run your brush along to work in the shampoo and get between all the hairs for a deeper clean. The silicon is an easy surface to clean after each use, just rinse under warm water.

You don’t need to buy these things to clean your brushes, of course. Using regular shampoo is just as effective. It is also a good way to get rid of the last bit of shampoo in a bottle. However, shampoos produce a lot of soapsuds, which may make rinsing your brushes more difficult. So dilute the shampoo to reduce suds. And if you don’t want to splurge on the mat then you can simply work the shampoo with your fingers. The mat is just a convenient tool.

Steps For Cleaning Your Makeup Brushes.

Things you’lll need:

Two buckets or tupperware with warm water
Shampoo/brush cleaner
Brush cleaning mat (optional)
Paper towels

Step 1: Fill each bucket with warm water, pour a couple of drops of shampoo in one of the buckets. Making a soapy solution ensures that you don’t just glob on huge amounts of soap onto the brush which wastes the shampoo but also it’ll make it difficult to rinse later when there is a ton of soap.

Step 2: Swirl your brush into the soap mixture, if you have a mat, you can work the soapy water into the brush by swirling the bristles across the mat. You can also work in the soap with your hands. Keep your brush head facing downwards at all times. Try not to get the ferrule wet, this is where the glue holds all of the hairs together, you don’t want to damage or dissolve the glue, causing the brush hairs to fall out.

Step 3: Rinse using the second bucket, swirl the brush in the clean water. You can gently use your fingers to get all the soap out. Pat dry with the paper towel, and let it dry lying flat. Make sure you let the brush hairs dry in its original shape; you don’t want to the brush hairs to be distorted or kinked when it dries. The best way to dry the brushes is actually to let it dry hanging upside down and letting the water drip out. They have brush holders for this purpose, or you can hang them by the handle using large bull clips. If not just let it lie flat, until it’s completely dry.

I find that cleaning the brushes this way prevents the brush hairs from absorbing too much water, and therefore they dry a lot faster. All my brushes were dry in a couple of hours and were ready to use the next day. 

To quickly clean and disinfect on the spot you can use a brush disinfecting spray. I got mine from Sephora. Spray 2-3 pumps onto the bristles and then tap dry on a clean paper towel. I use this normally with things like my eyebrow angle brush. Because I use it everyday, it gets clumped up quickly. I concentrate the spray on the bristles, this helps loosen the caked on brow gel and then clean it off with a cotton pad. You can use this spray to quickly disinfect any brush.

I hope this helps with your brush cleaning needs. It really doesn’t take long. I managed to clean all my brushes in less than 30 minutes. Try it out!

Until next time!

Konjac Sponge – Changing up your skin routine

with No Comments

I was in Winners the other day, going through their cosmetics and skin care and sometimes you find that great one-off product. I came across a Konjac sponge and it reminded me how much I enjoyed using them as part of my skin care routine. In short, it’s a biodegradable reusable sponge made of a Japanese plant fiber that gently exfoliates skin, helping slough off dead skin cells. It can be used alone or in conjunction with cleansers to really get that deep clean. This sponge is gentle enough to use daily and after several uses, your skin is softer and refreshed looking.

What is Konjac?

Also known as Konjaku, Devil’s Tongue, Snake Palm and Voodoo Lily, Konjac is a perennial plant that grows in Asia. It has a potato-like corm that grows in the ground and a stalk plant that produces a lily-like flower. The Japanese have used the corm as a food source and as a beauty remedy for many years. The sponge is made up of the vegetable’s plant fiber to create a webbed/meshed sponge and can be infused with skin benefiting properties, such as green tea, for added anti-oxidants and to help with inflammation, clays for added vitamins and minerals, and activated charcoals, to promote the removal of oil and dirt. The Konjac Sponge is 100% natural and biodegradable.

How does it work?

The sponge is made up of soft mesh-like fibers that act as a gentle exfoliator for your face and body. The fibrous sponge sloughs off dry/dead skin cells, and removes some surface dirt and oils, leaving the skin feeling soft and refreshed. It can also help remove non-waterproof makeup, but to get a deeper clean and to ensure all your makeup/dirt and oils are removed, it is best to use it in conjunction with a cleanser.

How do you use it?

When you first get the sponge it will be dried out and hard, run it under warm water to soften it and to make it flexible. You can now massage the sponge onto your skin. Use a separate sponge for your face and body.

You can use it with or without a cleanser. Without a cleanser, the sponge simply scrubs the skin, removing skin cells and some dirt and oils. To get a deeper clean, I always use it with a cleanser. In the mornings, I simply pump on the cleanser, and then massage my face with the sponge, working it in problematic areas, like around my nose, and right now my chin and upper lip, because of dry skin patches. I rinse the sponge under the water and squeeze the sponge to remove excess soap. Then I continue to use the sponge to rinse the rest of my face. At night, I typically remove my makeup first with a face wipe and makeup remover and then in the shower, I will use the sponge and a charcoal cleanser in the same way as my morning routine.

When you are done with the sponge, squeeze out as much water as you can. Don’t “wring” out the sponge like you would a towel however, you’ll just damage the sponge and it’ll have a shorter shelf-life. Store the sponge on a bath rack OR thread a string through it to hang it in the shower. You need to let the sponge dry out in between uses or else mold will grow and that’s just not fun.

How long does the sponge last?

Typically the sponge will last for 2-3 months. Over time the sponge will loose its elasticity. I suggest replacing it within 2-3 months anyway even if it lasts longer, because over time bacteria will build.

Where do you buy them?

Winners ($6CAD) – The brand I picked up was “Spa Sisters”, a Green Tea infused Konjac sponge, a great find. Once again, this may or may not have been a one-off kind of product from Winners, you know how they have a bunch of random things you can find and may never find again. Maybe you’ll get lucky and find one too but I did find their website and linked it for you! 

The Face Shop ($6CAD) – They have both the original Pure Konjac sponge and the Charcoal Konjac sponge. What’s unique about theirs is the teardrop shape. The shape helps get into corners, like around the nose, a lot easier. I have used the charcoal sponge and love it. After the Spa Sisters sponge, I will be repurchase the charcoal sponge.

Boscia at Sephora ($16-20CAD) – Boscia has their pure Konjac sponge, charcoal sponge and hydrating clay sponge. I personally have not tried these before BUT it is made of the same plant fiber as any other Konjac sponge. I want to think you’ll get the same experience with the cheaper alternatives.

If you have any other places where to find this sponge, let me know and I’ll add it to the list!


Using the sponge with my cleanser instead of working the cleanser with my hands, really has improved my skin. I find my skin feels softer and cleaner – without being dried out. I have a pimple on my chin that has scarred and the sponge has helped scrub off the dead skin cells and promote new skin cell growth. You will need to use the sponge for a couple of days to start seeing the difference but I think it is worth the try. It is a great natural exfoliator that is suitable for all skin types, especially for sensitive skin because it really is gentle.

If you try the Konjac sponge out, let me know in the comments below!

I'll talk to you guys next time,



Welcome to Upclose&Awkward

with No Comments

Welcome to my blog! I’m very excited to finally present this to you. It’s been a long time since I’ve done something like this but it feels good to start all over again. I won’t lie, I’m a bit rusty. I haven’t played with photoshop in years, so this layout will just have to do for now. I’m sorry if there are a couple of unresolved issues with this site but I’m working on it =).  So, everything isn’t exactly quite how I want it to be (and this post is probably riddled with grammatical errors…sorry about that), but if I don’t start posting now, I never will.

Let’s start off with a bit of an introduction. I’m Karen (or Kern), I’m 25, I live in Toronto, Canada, and I’m a chemist. I started this website because my life and work felt a little bit inadequate. I have a 9-5 job, which I’m lucky to have, but at the same time, I feel like I’m going no where. Every day I go to work, I come home, eat dinner, go to bed, and start all over. It’s just  an endless cycle. Life has become really repetitive and like most people, I stopped liking what I was doing. I soon realized that, if I did nothing about it, this is how my life is going to be. And I hated that. I used to spend my time creating art on photoshop, playing the piano, and just indulge in any hobby I chose. Today, not so much. I feel like that’s the problem with being an “adult”. Sometimes, you get caught up in making money and having to put food on the table, you forget to enjoy the things you love. And I forgot to enjoy the things I love. That’s why I feel like my life is going no where.

So I decided I would change that.  This blog is to express my creative side and to have something outside my boring 9-5 job. This internet space is for me to get Upclose and Awkward with you guys (I had to work my website name in somehow) and talk about what interests me. I love beauty and skin care. Long story short, I have always had problematic skin. Makeup has helped me gain a lot of confidence. Over the years, I’ve tried a million different products, learning what works and what doesn’t. Today, through lots of trial and error, I know how to better take care of my skin with the right skin care regime and the right makeup. I’m not saying I have a miracle routine here, it’s just better than before =P. I want to share my thoughts and opinions on the various products I have tried and hopefully help another person struggling with problematic skin. Really, I just want to start a conversation, where we can help each other out. Because, I’m not an expert on these things, I just know what I know, and I’m always open to trying new things and learning about new products.

So, I hope you will come on this journey with me. It’ll be fun, I think.. =].

xo, Kern

(P.S. stay tuned for my first official beauty post! – face cleansers – so important, especially for oily/acne prone skin – although, everyone should be cleansing their faces!)