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Do You Need a Color Switch or Will a Dupe Work as a Dry Brush Cleaner? My Test and Review of Four, including a DIY Dollar Tree Project

Whether your brush collection is small or you have some brushes you love that you use for multiple colors, a dry brush cleaner can help. It is mostly commonly called a color switch, because the most popular one from Sephora and Vera Mona includes that in the title. Just like some will ask for a Kleenex when they want a tissue, some will ask for a color switch when they want a dry brush cleaner. They are also really helpful for people who swatch products using brushes. Let me know below if you want my reasoning for why brush swatching is usually wasteful and unnecessary. A color switch removes powder products from your brushes without any liquid. Yes, you can use a dry brush cleaner on cream products, but it will not remove as much product and will have you washing your dry brush cleaner more often.

This product does not substitute regular brush washing. Germs and bacteria will still build in the brushes even if they are not depositing color from the last product you used. I used to wash my brushes after every use, and I still do this whenever I use them with creams or liquids. With this product, I typically use brushes I applied powders with a few times before I wash them now. That should elongate the life of my brushes, because washing can wear them down over time. Some brushes even start to change shape with each washing. Better brushes can withstand more washing and can last for many years when handled with care. As I already have an article on deep cleaning brushes, I will refer anyone looking for tips on that over there.

Before I purchased my first dry brush cleaner, I would wipe the brush on a tissue to remove color before applying another color. This does work, and it is a perfectly acceptable method for anyone who does not own a dry brush cleaner. A caveat is you should always brushes between users if you are sharing them with anyone else. As I thoroughly tested the dry brush cleaners I am reviewing, I also tried wiping shadows on a tissue as I used to do to see if any performed dry brush cleaners perform worse than the tissue. There was one that did, and I will mention it when I get to its review. The main reason some may want something more substantial than a tissue or a paper towel is to avoid the fibers they leave on the brush. Those fibers can affect application, but from my experience, it is extremely minimal. Most pigments are more dense than the fibers and will spread and blend nicely despite the fibers as long as you are working with a nice product.

The first dry brush cleaner I purchased was the Sephora Collection Color Switch by Vera Mona Brush Cleaner. It retails for $18, which is a pretty hefty price tag for what it is. This is a makeup removing sponge in a metal tin. I find this is the densest sponge of the three ready-to-go ones I purchased. There are ridges, but they are somewhat smooth. Those ridges help remove the pigment without putting too much pressure on the brush. The metal tin is substantial.

It is extremely easy to use. You simply swirl your brush into the sponge. Some of the color from the brush gets absorbed into the sponge and some of it falls to the bottom of the tin. Depending on the color of the brush, it might look like the pigment is still on the brush. However, no pigment from the original color is present after a few quick swirls. A simple test on your arm or a tissue will yield no color, regardless of what the bristles look like. That makes this brush cleaner easy to use and extremely effective. Is is worth $18 though?

It can get used a lot before cleansing is necessary. I typically only wash it when all the surface area of the sponge gets covered in pigment. As you can clearly see where the color is, you know where your clean canvas is to remove the next pigment off the next brush. This is double-sided, so you can flip it over and use the other side before you wash it as well.

When it is time to wash it, I like to use a brush cleanser, which works incredibly well. It cleans fast and effectively. The sponge is 100% dry by the morning if you wash it the night before.

The second dry brush cleaner I purchased was the Ulta Beauty Collection Beauty Smarts New Hue Shadow Switching Pan. It retails for $9. At times, you can get it with a GWP or a BOGO offer, which would make it an even better deal. This is a makeup removing sponge in a metal tin. I find this is most as dense as the Sephora sponge, but more dense than the other ready-to-go one I purchased. There are ridges, but they are somewhat smooth. Those ridges help remove the pigment without putting too much pressure on the brush. The metal tin is substantial.

It is extremely easy to use. You simply swirl your brush into the sponge. Some of the color from the brush gets absorbed into the sponge and some of it falls to the bottom of the tin. Depending on the color of the brush, it might look like the pigment is still on the brush. However, no pigment from the original color is present after a few quick swirls. A simple test on your arm or a tissue will yield no color, regardless of what the bristles look like. That makes this brush cleaner easy to use and extremely effective. Is is worth $9 though?

This one also has an insert in the center that you can remove. It is a more traditional sponge that is better at removing cream products. The surface area is small, so it will only work well with eyeshadows, lip brushes, and eyeliners. Cream blushes, bronzers, or any product that use a bigger brush will spill over onto the dry brush cleaner. You can remove some of the cream onto the dry brush cleaner, but it will not remove it all. Then again, the little sponge in the center of this does not remove all cream either. However, it does remove more than using the dry brush cleaner alone.

It can get used a lot before cleansing is necessary. The only exception is when you use it for a cream product. Of course, you can always take the center insert out and only use then only clean that. I typically only wash it when all the surface area of the sponge gets covered in pigment. As you can clearly see where the color is, you know where your clean canvas is to remove the next pigment off the next brush. This is double-sided, so you can flip it over and use the other side before you wash it as well.

When it is time to wash it, I like to use a brush cleanser, which works incredibly well. It cleans fast and effectively. The sponge is 100% dry by the morning if you wash it the night before.

The third dry brush cleaner I purchased was the J.cat Beauty Dry Makeup Brush Cleaner. It retails for $5.99. This is a makeup removing sponge in a metal tin. I find this is the least dense of the three ready-to-go ones I purchased. There are ridges, but they are somewhat smooth. Those ridges help remove the pigment without putting too much pressure on the brush. The metal tin is flimsy.

It is easy to use, but it takes more swirling that the other two I purchased. I find that it takes about the same if not more time to remove than using a standard tissue. If I stop swirling this as quickly as I can with the Sephora and the Ulta one and test the color on my arm of tissue, some pigment will still come off. As long as I swirl it slightly longer, I will eventually get the same result. Some of the color from the brush gets absorbed into the sponge and some of it falls to the bottom of the tin. Depending on the color of the brush, it might look like the pigment is still on the brush. However, no pigment from the original color is present after a few quick swirls. That makes this brush cleaner somewhat easy to use and effective. Is is worth $5.99 though?

It can get used a lot before cleansing is necessary. I typically only wash it when all the surface area of the sponge gets covered in pigment. As you can clearly see where the color is, you know where your clean canvas is to remove the next pigment off the next brush. This is double-sided, so you can flip it over and use the other side before you wash it as well.

When it is time to wash it, I like to use a brush cleanser, which works incredibly well. It cleans fast and effectively. The sponge is 100% dry by the morning if you wash it the night before.

After having success with all three of the ones I purchased, I wanted to test one I made myself. A lot of people claim you can make your own that is just as effective for a fraction of the price. That is true with a lot of things, so I wanted to see if it applied to this. I headed over to the Dollar Tree to purchase a Jot Metal Container. The one I placed it in looks like that one, but it is solid metal. Funny enough, I purchased a lot of the ones online, but they are all at my husband’s house. Any small container you find in the Dollar Tree should work though. I also purchased a Basic Solutions Hair Donut. It took me a few trips to the store to find one, so keep going back if your store is out. My total outlay for my DIY project was $2.

Many of you know, I am not creative, so this is a DIY I could get behind. I unpacked the hair donut and shoved it into the container. Done! My container is a little small, so the lid does pop off. Hopefully, you can find a larger container, but you can always wrap it with a rubber band to keep the lid in place if a small container is all you have. Because this is not the same material as the other three, it is more dense than all of them. There are rougher ridges on this. Those ridges remove the pigment extremely well, but they put more pressure on the brush than any of the other dry brush cleaners. The metal tin is flimsy.

It is extremely easy to use. You simply swirl your brush into the sponge. Some of the color from the brush gets absorbed into the sponge and some of it falls to the bottom of the tin. Depending on the color of the brush, it might look like the pigment is still on the brush. However, no pigment from the original color is present after a few quick swirls. A simple test on your arm or a tissue will yield no color, regardless of what the bristles look like. That makes this brush cleaner easy to use and extremely effective. Is is worth $2 though?

It can get used a lot before cleansing is necessary. I typically only wash it when all the surface area of the sponge gets covered in pigment. As you can clearly see where the color is, you know where your clean canvas is to remove the next pigment off the next brush. This is double-sided, so you can flip it over and use the other side before you wash it as well.

When it is time to wash it, I like to use a brush cleanser, which works incredibly well. It does not clean as fast or effectively as the others, because it is a lot more dense. It takes some finessing to clean and rinse all the soap out of the center. This is a lot thicker than the others. The sponge is not dry by the morning if you wash it the night before. It takes about a day and a half for the sponge to fully dry.

Yes, there was a lot of redundancy in what I typed for each item. That is because a lot of the qualities are similar when you are dealing with dupes. I wanted to keep each review together for those who only want to read about the product they are considering for purchase and skip over the others. If I had to recommend one over the others, I would recommend the Ulta one. It is half the price of the Sephora one, performs just as well, has a tin that is just as sturdy, and a sponge that is almost as dense. This is also the only one with a cream brush cleaner in it. For those who do not need that or if that is not a selling point, it does not take away from the overall product. You can completely remove it if you are dry brush cleaning larger brushes. Granted, there will be a slight hole in the center, so you would need a little extra swirling on face brushes.

While the Dollar Tree creation works extremely well, its tin gets banged up easily and needs Macgyvering to keep the lid on. The harshness of the hair donut can also cause more harm to the bristles over time. Do not let others fool you! Even though it is close, it is not the same material that comes in the dry brush cleaners. With harsher ridges, there is more pulling. That can loosen or misshapen bristles. I would not say you cannot use it. As long as you understand the effects are harsher, do whatever you want. Would I save $7 on a brush cleaner only to cause more potential damage to my brushes? Nope! For science, I used the Dollar Tree creation throughout the testing process and did not see any immediate damage, so that is worth noting for those who go that route.

Thanks for reading along. I hope this article helped you find the dry brush cleaner that is right for you. None of them are bad, so I can easily recommend any of them as long as people understand I think the cost for the Sephora one is too high, the Dollar Tree one could damage brushes over time, a tissue works but can leave fibers in your bristles, the J.cat Beauty one works but takes a little more effort, and the Ulta Beauty one will take a little more effort with face brushes. See other dupes, DIY, and product search articles. View my main page for the guide map to the site and deeper deal exploration.

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6 comments on “Do You Need a Color Switch or Will a Dupe Work as a Dry Brush Cleaner? My Test and Review of Four, including a DIY Dollar Tree Project

  1. DV
    October 20, 2018

    I like the concept a lot — even owned the Sephora and Ulta versions, but I must admit I didn’t like using either of them so discarded them. What I do instead is use various brushes (one for each color), which I admit is definitely not the thrifty thing to do, and means packing a few more brushes when I go on travel. What can I say? I love me my brushes–Ha! Ha!

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  2. notcreative
    October 20, 2018

    I have hundreds of brushes yet I still find myself using this. Granted, of those, less than 100 are ones I actually use on a regular basis. Many are ones I will only use if I have to. This is partly because I have a few brushes I really love. It is also partly because I hate using dirty brushes but also hate washing brushes. When all of my faves are dirty and I am down to the end, I will grab this instead of washing my brushes when I am doing a look where one clean brush can do the trick with multiple shades as long as I use this. The more dirty brushes I have the more likely I am to use this. This is especially helpful to me with blending brushes. I used to use one for blending with nothing on it in between steps and one for my transition shade at the beginning. Now, I use this to clean my transition shade off and use the same brush to blend with nothing on it. Grabbing one blending brush per look instead of two helps me go longer between washing now.

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  3. DV
    October 20, 2018

    I see what you mean. I do a quick clean of all the brushes I’ve used after I’ve put on my makeup. I admit it takes a few minutes but aside from the fancy high-end goat ones I have, I find it’s better to stay on top of cleaning them. I keep a spray bottle full of my cleaner and a spare washcloth around to make cleaning them more convenient. But if I didn’t clean them each time, I see using one of the dry brush cleaners you’re reviewed.

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  4. DV
    October 20, 2018

    I forgot to add that perhaps cleaning out your brushes to get rid of your least favorite ones may make things seem easier. I know I’d be overwhelmed if I didn’t purge my brush collection of ones that are old or not useful or had other issues. I set the rejects aside for about 6 months (just to make sure I don’t miss them) and then give them away or discard them. What’s interesting is that I’m finding myself liking synthetic ones more than I used to.

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  5. notcreative
    October 20, 2018

    I am always in a rush to get out the door, so I only do on the spot cleaning on the rare occasions when I leave myself time. I have a dial brush cleaner that rarely gets used.

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  6. notcreative
    October 20, 2018

    I was getting ready to do this, because I have multiple nieces asking me for makeup brushes. If I give them the ones I dislike, at least someone will use them. There are probably at least 100 that I never use, probably about 100 that I use all the time, and probably around 100 I will use when it really takes me a lot of time to wash my preferred ones. My spreadsheet says I have over 300, but I have yet to count which ones I regularly use. Those are just guesses.

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