Becca Professional Brush Soap ($15 40g/1.41 oz.) was designed to clean, condition and sanitize. That's pretty much what soap does, right? But apparently, if I use Becca's soap, instead of the stuff I already use, my brushes will live longer than I do and can be passed down through centuries of mini me's.
I do like how the soap is neatly packaged in a vintage-style tin, like the kind my dad used for shaving, though a part of me is reminded of those little tins of saddle soap that I used to clean my winter boots and other rugged leather. This tin is wide enough that I can swirl my fluffiest blush brush inside, and the soap works equally well on both natural and synthetic fibers.
Apparently, shampoo can leave brush fibers limp and brittle (though I have had great results using Aveda Shampure, Jane Iredale's brush shampoo, and Dr. Bronner's liquid castille soap). Becca's soap contains plant oils that are gentle on brush fibers while cleansing away product build-up, but in all honesty, I do not find that this soap outperforms those shampoos or the soap I use on my body (Kiss My Face Olive Oil Soap), and now I have one more item added to my bathroom clutter. I do find, however, that whatever brush cleanser I use needs to be conditioning or the bristles can seem a bit ratty, not soft and smooth, and the Becca soap is definitely conditioning.
To use, I simply dip the brush tips in lukewarm water, swirl around the soap cake to pick up some lather, and then stroke the brush against my palm. Rinse, and repeat if necessary, until the water runs clean. I also make sure that I tip the tin at the end to empty out any standing water.
I realize this is supposed to be a review on the soap itself, but there isn't much I can say about it that I haven't already said. It's convenient, and it cleans. The end. So permit me to digress into brush-washing philosophy for a moment--especially after reading some of the marketing hype for this and other brush-cleaning products that would have me believe I need to wash my brushes after every use.
We makeup lovers are continually confronted by the edict that we must wash our brushes frequently (e.g., at least weekly) or we'll have faces that resemble the insides of a pomegranate. Some of these scare tactics practically posit that unwashed brushes are a veritable petri dish of disease. I say your mileage may vary. If you have chronic acne or very oily skin, or if you regularly make dramatic changes in your eyeshadow or blush colors, you'll want to wash your brushes more often and know that you will have to replace them more often. I wash most of my brushes every 1-3 months, and I read somewhere that even Bobbi Brown washes her personal brushes no more often than once a month. So I was extremely gratified that my recent Hahuhodo brush order came with instructions that suggested washing only when the brush head became overloaded with product and to, instead, wipe it with a tissue after each use. I don't use tissue, which can transfer lint. I use a small microfiber towel or a cosmetic wedge, both of which absorb extra powder and prevent it from flying around the room. I should also say that I am wary of the no-rinse sprays and liquids. As convenient as they are, they contain alcohol (in order that the bristles dry quickly), which seems like it could do more damage to the brush head than overwashing.
I enjoy the meditative process of washing my brushes, and I love how they look after, but I actually prefer them to be a bit dirty--much the same way my hair is nicest the day or so after I wash it. The hairs perform better when they are not overly loose and fluffy and squeaky clean. I do wash brushes that I use to apply cream or gel products after each use, but overall, it comes down to practicality. The more often I wash my brushes, the more quickly they will wear out. As for a breeding ground of bacteria, I have been using the Jane Iredale Handi brush nearly every day since 2000 (a total of 30-40 washes, not the 520+ times the pundits advise). It looks as good as it did the day I purchased it, and it has not caused a single skin eruption, though if I were to hold it under an electron microscope I'd probably see something resembling Whoville.
Bottom line: Becca Professional Brush Soap cleans perfectly well but is not a staple for me.
Ingredients: Sodium Palmate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Aqua (Water), Sucrose Cocoate, Glycerin, Sodium Chloride, Parfum (Fragrance).
All photos mine