5 Tips for Cleaning Your Makeup Brushes (and, a review of beautyblender’s beautycleanser)

Since I got beautyblender’s beautycleanser in last month’s Birchbox (which I was super disappointed with, BTW) I thought I’d give it a whirl and give you all a few tips for cleaning your brushes while I’m at it. So,…

1. Wash often.

It doesn’t have to be every week, or even every two weeks, but just know that the cleaner you keep your brushes, the longer they’ll last.

2. Use plenty of the cleaning product.

I don’t recommend you use generic soaps- use something that was made for makeup brushes. They’re not too expensive and can last quite awhile- also, you don’t have to worry about what is or isn’t in the product and for the most part,  you know it’ll work.

I loved using the beautyblender beautycleaner. I was able to thoroughly clean all of my brushes with only a little bit of the product. It lathers well and has a great scent; a clean subtle lavender. It’s just noticeable while you’re using the product and doesn’t linger once the brushes have dried. Also on the upside, it’s a soy-based cleanser, and birchbox claims that not only will the soy “dissolves any dirt and debris trapped in your brushes and sponges” but that the soy is also a natural moisturizer that will work on your skin as you use the brush.

I don’t know that this product made any difference to my skin or even the application of my makeup, but it cleaned my brushes really well with a minimal amount of product. ie. It did it’s job and I like it.

I also REALLY like that the cleanser has a gel consistency to it. It’s not watery, or runny like others I;ve tried, so it lathers easily and it’s not falling off the brush before I get a chance to work it in.

On the right you can see how much of the beautycleanser I used for this brush.

I washed all of these brushes and the bottle is practically still full.

3.  Keep bristles in same direction they’ll dry in.

Theres no need to rough up the bristles in order to get them clean. You can be just as thorough without scrubbing or messing up all the bristles. Use your fingers to gently get the cleaning product evenly lathered and spread throughout the brush. The product will do the rest. If really needed you can gently rub the bristles between your fingers.

No need for excessive scrubbing!

4. It’s ok to lather, rinse AND repeat.

I often have to soap up and rinse more than once. My thicker brushes always need more than one round and if it’s been a while since I’ve washed the brushes, they all need more than one round.

I wash until the rinse is clear. I like my brushes to be THAT clean.

5. Shake out excess water.

Instead of squeezing your brushes to get the excess water out, try shaking it out. A few flicks of the wrists should do it. Squeezing, or excess touching or your clean brushes is unnecessary and can reintroduce oils & debris to your brushes. Your better off just having them air dry for a few hours extra than squeezing.

Extra: To dry your brushes, simply lay them flat and let them air dry. Touch as little as possible, and make sure they’re in a place where there’s little dust or opportunity for dust. I leave them on a towel in the bathroom.

Just lay flat and you’re done!

What are your favorite tricks and tips for washing makeup brushes?

I’m no expert so feel free to leave me feedback or your favorite makeup brush cleaning tips.


For information on makeup brushes, which are the best and why- I highly recommend to you check out Beauty By Krystal as there is A LOT of helpful brush information& reviews on her blog!

Beautyblender beautycleanser is available at Birchbox, Amazon and I’m sure plenty of other places. ($15 for 6 oz. seems to be a decent price for this product- but, if you find it cheaper let me know!)

ALSO, if you know of a better product, send that info my way– I’m always on the lookout for better or more cost-effective products.


Banana Republic Nail Lacquer/ Polish in deep purple brown

Not sure if I’ve been under a rock or what, but this last week was the First time I’ve ever come across Banana Republic nail polish!

I found this bottle on sale for a little less than $5, it was the only color in the store. Lucky for them I’d been looking for a brown.

First and most importantly, the polish is smooth! I really like the way that it dries after a generous second coat. it has a nice shine to the color and and dried almost flawlessly. Drying period was not too long, as the polish is fairly thin, and the nail color seemed to hold up fairly well after drying. Though thin, it has a nice dark color and opacity. Not see though at all after the second coat.

Regarding the color: 1. I love it 2. I have no idea how to describe it.

The first coat comes out purple. With the second coat it turns more brown with a slight reddish tint. No purple visible.

Mostly it’s just a deep brown, but it varies depending on what light you in.

I tried to show the different colors, of course it never comes out the same on camera.

I highly recommend this polish for a smooth clean look. This color is a bit dark, but I’m happy with it. Cool, classic an mature.

Check it out for yourself:



Curly Hair Tips

Curly hair is beautiful. It really is!

The trick is to find the right products and methods for Your hair. Test everything, try it all; it stinks and its a long process but it is so worth it when you can finally wear your curly hair.

So here are a few Curly Frizzy Hair tips (from various magazines) that I think we should all try.




Whats Up With Etsy? – I USED to be able to sell stuff

In 2009 I opened the Barely Blue Birds Etsy account, posted a few crotched jewelry items, and sold everything. Amazing, I know.

What’s more amazing is that 2009 is when I taught myself to crochet. I was unemployed, just back from 4 months in Europe after graduating college, and needed something to help pass the time while searched for jobs.

But this isn’t about my crocheting, and I’m not trying to brag…

Mom has been handmaking amazing cards for years now. She’s obsessed. Her cards are so beautiful that she hates the idea of selling them on Etsy. and then I talked her into it. Posted the cards and…. nothing!

Not a single sale. I swear I sold my crochet jewelry in a month, and mom’s cards are so much more beautiful and amazing than that jewelry.

So what’s up with Etsy?

(I’m speculating here, and I’m sure theres much more too it – but here ya go)

1. There are a gazillion more shops in 2012 than there were in 2009. <- 100% speculation, but it would make sense…

The more people sell, the faster social networks grow, and the more stuff gets put online- the more people hear about it and think ‘Hey, I want to do that, too!”. With so many shops, so many cards, so many everything, non of the buyers are getting to my shop.

2. My Tagging Stinks

Holy moly, tagging. I just don’t know how to do it any better than I already am. I wish Etsy’d put out an Etsy SEO helper. Something that told me what people are searching for, which keywords work best, etc. Hey! They could make it specific to our shops. Tell us how people are finding us when they do, etc. etc. Just like the wordpress stats I get here. (By the way, share this with your friends, my numbers suck).

3. Prices. We want handmade, but not if we have to pay for it. &, the economy sucks.

I’ve got mom’s cards selling for $4.00 a piece (fitted envelope included)- Is this too much? I’ve searched Etsy and quality cards are priced about the same, but maybe people no longer want to shell out a few extra bucks to get handmade goods. Then again, drugstore & hallmark cards are rarely less than $3:00 so whats the deal ?

4. Cards are last minute gifts. (Yea, I’ve got personal experience with this one)

Nobody but my grandma buys cards in advance. Well, sometimes we buy them the day before the party…. Shipping is 2-3 days or you have to pay lots more, and why pay extra when we can run to the drug store.

What do you think? Am I right, or am I right? 😉

Any and all comments welcome.

You can check out my store at etsy.com/people/barelybluebirds I’d love any suggestions, tips comments. Anything that I can use to make it better and I’d happily do the same for you!

Cheating my Co-Wash

Yea, I know. Cheating at your co-wash already?! I couldn’t help it!

I went for a haircut two days ago and the best shampooing/massaging/best hair washing assistant in the world asked if I wanted a wash. Hell yea! How could I turn down one of those massages!

Yes, I could have turned it down and yes, I could have  also just asked her to skip the shampoo. But I felt kind of embarrassed. My hair wasn’t greasy or dirty, the Co-Washing has been going fantastically– but I kind of felt  rude (?) not washing my hair before a cut.

So I caved. But I don’t feel remotly guilty about it. I just wanted to let you all know how it’s (not) been going.

I think I could have gone another 3 days with co-washing alone! I’m using some cheap-ish Pantene conditioner and it’s been great. My hair feels clean, it really does! and I think I already feel it getting softer. It could be in my head. It could also just be because I had my dead ends removed.

Today I returned to the co-washing. Ran out of the Pantene and now using a Dove foaming conditioner. By the way, I’ve never used foam conditioner before- a little weird, but once you get used to it, it works just as well as the others.

Are you co-washing? I want to know how it’s going for you! Send me comments or find me at @BarelyBlueBirds to chat!

My First Birchbox- Disappointing May Gossip Girl Edition

Before signing up for Birchbox, I did my research. Read the Birchbox website & read what other bloggers were saying about it- I never came across a negative experience, so I had high hopes about this box.

Thinking now, maybe my hopes were too high.. but I was little diappointed when I saw the sample sizes. It’s not like I’m getting this box for free, so high hopes & disappointment are valid.

That being said, you should know that I was a extra excited-

1. I waited a month for my first Birchbox. (When you sign up, they say they’ll send your first box immediately– for reasons I don’t recall- they were unable to ship my initial box, and just credited me back for that month – it really wasn’t bad, just added to the excitement of getting my first box). 

2. It was also a special Gossip Girl edition -I’m not a big fan, but there was a lot of hype surrounding this ‘special edition’.

3. Lastly- shipping took for-ever, which just built up loads of anticipation. The Box arrived on the 11th – which I consider on-time since their website says they ship on the 10th, but I received a ‘your item has shipped’ notification 7 days before getting the box. Such a long wait when your as excited as I was.

It’s a nice presentation and array or products- and of course it’s fun to get little goodies, but it just didn’t seem worth it with everything being so small. It’s all tiny samples- the kind you can get for free at any department or beauty specialty store. But it’s still fun to get this stuff in the mail.

While I haven’t tried all of the items yet, so can’t comment on the quality- I can tell you that one of the already small sized bottles was almost empty … and of course this was the sample I was MOST interested in trying.

Here’s a pic of everything that was included.

The ‘XOXO’ card is a bonus item. I don’t really see myself using it- unless one fo you wants to get a card in the mail… ? $10 for a set of 12- I’m better off just printing out a card, but it was nice of them to include an ‘extra’.

Item rundown:

1. twistband skinny headband. 6 pack for $20. 

It’s cute, but nothing too fancy. Looks like a piece of ribbon, but it’s way nicer to wear because of the elastic. Seemed to hold on my head, but definitely not for athletic activities. I’ve been wearing it since opening the box. I like it.

I got a nice olive green color. 
2. Arquiste L’ Etrog Frangrance. $165 for a full size bottle.

“Warm notes of citron, palm leaves & myrtle.. Inspired by the aromas of a medieval harvest festival in Calabria, Italy”

It didn’t smell like Italy to me, but the scent is nice! It’s a ‘mature’ scent that seems very womanly. – I’m usually into more floral and lighter scents, but I’m very excited to try this one. – I’m waiting for a special day 🙂 Also, I can’t usually wear strong scents but I think this one may work for me. We’ll see.

3. beautyblender blendercleanser. $17.95 for a full bottle.

For cleaning makeup brushed and sponges; removing the oil and bacteria from them. Not sure when I’ll get around to using this, but it is a nice sized full sample. Looking forward to cleansing my brushes- I have a habit of just using soap. I know, thats a no-no, and another reason why I was glad to get this sample.

4. Color Club nail polish ‘DiscoNap’. $8 

I love it. It’s the first thing I tried. Only two coats needed to get a strong, solid gold color. Chipped a little this morning (I painted last night) but overall it’s a great!

I’ve been looking for a good gold color since the holidays.Not a color I’d wear regularly, but definitely for parties or special occasions.  

5. Dr. Jart + Waterfuse BB Cream

This bottle is tiny and on top of that there’s nothing in it! I had to squeeze and squeeze to get anything out of it- which is a bummer because this is the product I’d be most interested in. The small amount that I was able to get out, was very lightweight and soft, but the tint didn’t seem to blend well on my medium olive complexion.

Then again, I can’t even call this a sample – so don’t take my word for it.


You should know: After opening the box, I went back over the website and I did in fact get what they said I would be getting. I got exactly what I signed up for; Samples. However, I will say I feel a little misled, because the boxes they show at http://www.birchbox.com look like they contain much bigger sample sizes.

At this point I’ve thought about canceling the subscription; but since it is just my first box, I’ve decided to go one more month and see what they send. Also, because this was a ‘special’ edition Birchbox, I want to give myself the chance to see what a regular box contains… and to tell you the truth, I kind of really really like getting surprise goodies once a month.

If, by some miracle after this post, you want to sign up and see for yourself whats in the boxes, you can Join Here. I’d recommend trying it for yourself… http://www.birchbox.com/join/?raf=8ll2q

I’ve Started Co-Washing

So, I’m short on time but since I’m going to be trying the co-washing method starting this week, I really want to get this out…

What is Co-Washing?
Co- washing (Conditioner washing) basically means you don’t use shampoo; you wash your hair with conditioner. The practice is highly recommended for people with oily or frizzy hair. Shampoo strips your hair of it’s natural oils- ‘overusing’ shampoo causes your scalp to produce more and more oil. If you find yourself washing your hair every day, stop; the less you use shampoo, the more your scalp will balance out the amount of oil it produces. If you stop using shampoo, your scalp will stop producing so much oil. After co-washing for about a week or two, your scalp should be balanced and producing the right amount of natural oils.

Why I’m Co-Washing
I have very thick, very frizzy, curly hair. Crazy curly; some ringlets and some kinky zig-zags curly. Co-washing promises to reduce the frizz and make my hair super soft. It’s worth a shot. BUT I’m really worried about this whole adjustment period where my hair may become greasy, and since I have to go to work looking well, not greasy, I’m allowing myself to wash when needed. I’ll do my very nest not to need shampoo; but I’m not going greasy. SO, depending on how it goes, it may take me a lot longer to get to total co-washing. and I’m ok with that.

Before Co-Washing
I shampoo every two to three days. Because my hair is so thick and curly, I rinse it on the days I don’t wash (aka, I get it into an acceptable state for work). My hair’s pretty dry and frizzy of course, but it works ok. I use suave products and have continued to do so with the co-washing.

Day Two of Co-Washing
As of right now I’m on day two of co-washing. I shampooed on Monday and it’s now Wednesday evening. My usually routine would call for a shampoo tomorrow, but as of right now I’m not feeling like I really need one.

The trick to co-washing is to really scrub/ wash your hair with the conditioner, and use a lot. If your hair is like mine, it will soak in the conditioner, and in order to really clean your hair, you’ll need a lot of the conditioner for scrubbing.

That’s all I have for now regarding co-washing. Feel free to leave me comments in questions, I’d love to know what you all think!