Between each face painting gig, I bring my kit(s) into the house and wash each brush and sponge that I've used. I'm sure you find this to be good news, right?
Now, as a fine artist, I'd been taught to use Ivory soap to wash my brushes when oil painting. It makes sense as a nearly-pure soap that cuts through the oils really well. So when I started face painting, it made sense to me to do the same with my face painting brushes. Granted, face paints are really makup and not paint at all, and they're therefore not oily, but they are highly pigmented and can stain sponges and brushes something fierce.
I stopped that. I've started using Purity pure Castile soap instead. Yes, I make it myself. When my husband and I started our soap business, Reef Botanicals, I posted it here. Well, now it's flourishing!
Not long ago, Mark Reid espoused the virtues of cleaning his sponges and brushes in a pure Castile soap. He bought some Purity and raved about its success. Since then, other face painters have followed suit.
This is what Ashley Pickin had to say about it:
OMG it cleaned my brushes and sponges SO WELL! Brushes that had been black with Wolfe black for like months came back to a light shade of gray... I couldn't believe it. I had used all kinds of other stuff on them and they never came that clean! My golden taklon ones turned back to their golden color! Amazing! ... STRONGLY recommend trying that stuff. It's awesome!
And today, I heard from my friend Cindy, who tested Purity on her face painting sponges last night (and bought a new camera):
First, she hand-washed face painting sponges in a lingerie bag in an unscented liquid hand soap, and got these results:
She pointed out the overall pink tinges of the lighter-colored sponges, which were originally a very light peach, and the pink stains on the formerly white lingerie bag. She'd spent "a good five minutes squishing, squeezing, resoaping, rinsing and rerinsing these sponges." They were washed until the water ran clear with the last application of soap, which meant three rounds of soap.
Then, she tested dishwashing liquid, and got this:
They're better and brighter, but the bag is still stained and there's still a good amount of face paint staining the sponges. She had again washed and rinsed until the water ran clear, which took two applications of the dishwashing liquid.
And then she tried again, with Purity Castile soap, and got this:
It took two rounds of soap and they're still a bit stained, but the sponges themselves have returned to their original pale peach color! They are bright and not nearly so embarrassing for a face painter to pull out of her kit. And did you notice...? No stains on the lingerie bag!
Even better, since you know that Purity is safe for use on the face, if there's any residue on the sponges or brushes, it won't hurt anyone if transferred to a face during face painting. There are no allergens here, since it's completely color-, fragrance-, and additive-free!
This would work for any cleanup, though. Even though face paint is really makeup and not paint, this would work just as well for oils, acrylics, watercolors... after all, in my many years of art classes I was taught to wash my oil paint brushes with a bar of Ivory. What could be better than that? Purity!