Coming clean about brush soap

Brush soap is not necessarily doing your brushes any favours. I’ll just leave that sentence hanging there for a moment to sink in. Brush cleaner and preserver on the other hand probably will, especially if you are using a natural bristle such as sable. Why am I telling you this? Quite simply because I see a lot of so called ‘brush soaps’ from gaming companies rather than art specialists which from my experience aren’t any better at removing paint than regular hand soap. In fact, they are possibly doing your natural hair brushes more harm than good as there’s a decent chance it’s additionally stripping out the natural oils which will result in them becoming brittle and breaking.

A good sable brush relies on its ability to snap back to a shaped point when painting and that performance comes from the hairs flexibility. Just like any natural hair it needs conditioning to help maintain that flexibility and replace the natural oils stripped out through constant swishing around in the water pot. Generally I’m immediately suspicious of anything that purports to be a ‘brush soap’ that doesn’t come from a reputed art supplier. Chances are regular hand soap and a little hair conditioner once in a while to recondition the bristles will serve just as effectively.

If you really want to extend the life and performance of your brushes however, I highly recommend getting yourself a tub of “The Masters Brush Cleaner and Preserver”, your brushes and your wallet will thank you for it. Artists have been relying on this stuff for decades and it’s not difficult to see why after the first couple of times you use it. It’s literally saved me a fortune in brush replacement costs over the years and I’m still using the same tiny 28oz pot I purchased several years ago. I have even restored brushes to operational use that I had considered written off.

Lately I’m seeing more gaming companies trying to get products into this space and I personally feel they should be treated with a healthy dose of scepticism. I’ve encountered small blocks of perfumed ‘brush’ soap from Games Workshop which looks (and smells) suspiciously like the courtesy packets of soap you find in many hotel bathrooms. I have tried the ‘Master Brush Soap’ from Games & Gears that came as part of their Kickstarter and found it to be anything but masterful. They even do a block in black now, although I’m not really sure why anyone would need black brush soap? Seems like style over substance to me. My advice is to stick with the stuff artists have been using for years to keep their brushes in top working order and you can’t go far wrong. Leave the soap next to the kitchen sink where it probably belongs.

Until next time, have a great week.

Carl

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