As summer heats up, so do the questions about how to use Brush On Block. Below are four of the top concerns for new Brush On Block users. Read all four to become an expert on your brush and powder!
- How to prep your new Brush On Block
- How to apply Brush On Block
- How to wash and clean your brush
- How and when to refill your powder
How to prep your new Brush On Block
One common misconception about Brush On Block is that it works just like similar products on the market. But Brush On Block has something few other brands have—an open/close mechanism designed to keep your powder inside the brush until you want it outside the brush.
When you receive your brush, it should arrive in the closed position. However, occasionally a brush isn’t fully tightened in the manufacturing process, so it is a good idea to make sure it is on as tight as it will go before you try to move it to the open position.
It helps to understand the parts of the brush before we begin. The brush (with the cap removed) can be broken down into 4 parts: the brush head, the yellow slider, the brush body and the powder cartridge. The powder cartridge includes the entire part that says Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30, and is NOT just the small blue section below the yellow “window.” Trying to twist that small section will normally result in the brush not opening.
- Make sure your refill cartridge is fully attached to the bottom of the brush body by turning the cartridge as far as you can to the right.
- Then, very slowly turn the cartridge back to the left about ¼ turn. You should feel the brush catch, click or hesitate. That’s your open position. (If you do not feel this, refer to the Troubleshooting step below.) If you twist your cartridge beyond the open position, it will unscrew from the brush body entirely. (This is how to refill your brush later on.)
- With the cap on your brush, but the brush in the open position, turn it upside down and tap the cap on a tabletop of something else firm. Give it 3 or 4 good firm taps. This is allowing the powder to flow into the tube inside the brush body. The tube has never had powder in it before, so filling it up by tapping allows the brush to flow smoothly from the beginning.
- Remove the cap, slide down the yellow slider and then give the brush a nice flick of the wrist. (Imagine you have water on your hand and no towel, so you’re trying to shake that water off. It’s sort of a snap feeling when you get to the bottom.) You should either see a little pouf of powder come out the end, or notice a small spot of powder on the tip of the bristles that wasn’t there before.
- Now tap your brush more gently on your hand to get more powder into the brush head, and then you are ready to apply.
Getting your BOB Kids to flow
- Remove the cap and slide down the slider.
- Click the blue portion of the brush (not the slider) to the left.
- Give a big flick of the wrist, maybe two. Because this brush is shorter than the regular Brush On Block brush, the priming step isn’t really necessary. After one or two big flicks, you should see powder on the tips of the bristles, and be ready to apply.
Opening the brush. If you turn the brush as far as it will go to the right and then back to the left but do not feel the click, catch or hesitation, it probably means that your brush needs a little more pressure to move to all the way closed. Grab the brush body in your left fist, and the refill cartridge in your right fist, then twist your left fist to the left, moving past slight resistance. Then you should be able to go back to the right and feel the open position. (See video example)
Seeing the powder on the bristles. Some people expect to see a lot of powder come out of their brush, or a lot on the ends of the bristles. Keep in mind that the powder that gets buffed on to your face is the powder that is inside the brush bristles, right around the tube where it comes into the brush head. If you want to be sure powder is there, you can fan across the top of the bristles with a finger, and you should see the powder inside. Remember, once your brush starts to flow, it will continue to dispense powder as long as it is in the open position. (It will slow down a bit as you get close to needing a refill.) Powder in the air is powder that won’t be protecting you from the sun, so the goal is to minimize that!
Still no powder flowing. Occasionally during the brush assembly process, a drop of glue will enter the tube through which the powder flows, causing the powder to flow slowly or not at all. This is easy to remedy with our favorite tool, a large paperclip with the first bend straightened out. Locate the tube in the center of your brush bristles at the base. Put the paper clip (or a similar strength item) down the tube and rotate it around. This should clear any clogs. (See video example)
How to apply your Brush On Block
There are two equally important questions we get about applying Brush On Block--How do I know I’m getting it on? And how do I know I have enough on? Both are great questions, and happen because the powder is so translucent that it can be difficult to see. (This is why it works great for men and children as well as women…you can barely see it on the skin!)
How do I know it is really going on my skin?
If you followed our earlier instructions on how to prime your brush and get the powder flowing, you just need to have a little faith! If the powder is making it into the brush head, then when you apply the brush head to your skin and buff, the powder will be going on there.
One trick that works for some people who are still doubtful, is to apply to the back of one hand. Go over the hand well, several times in circular motions. Then compare the back of that hand to your other hand. You may notice that redness of the appearance of veins is minimized, or that your skin has a matte look where you applied the powder. This means it is going on!
How do I know I’m putting enough on?
With powder sunscreen, as with every other type of sunscreen, our tendency is to not apply enough. Luckily, when applying powder sunscreen, you won’t feel slick, oily or greasy if you apply enough. Not applying enough of any sunscreen means that you won’t get the full SPF value stated on the label, and the less you apply, the less protection you get.
Previously, we have told people to apply product to one half of their face, going over it 4-5 times, then give the brush a little shake in between and do the other half. Since the brush is also great for neck, arms and hands, as well as the part of the hair, and back of the neck if hair is short or pulled up, address each of those areas as well.
But maybe a better way to describe how much to apply is that each of those areas, including half of your face, then the other half, can be covered well if you devote 15-20 seconds for each half. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is. In fact, when making recommendations for children, we recommend 15-20 seconds for their full face until they are about 5 years old, then doing half at a time for 15 seconds each over 6 years of age. A good way to get your child to sit still for 15-30 seconds while you apply sunscreen is to sing while you do it. We tested it, and two verses of “Baby Shark” is just about 15 seconds, but if you have a song you prefer, you only need to time yourself singing it!
But let’s revisit that. Say you have a 6 year old, and you want to apply sunscreen to them. That would be 4 verses of Baby Shark for their face, one verse for chest and neck (don’t forget the ears!), and another verse for each arm, including the hand. So that should get you through Baby, Mama, Daddy, Grandma, Grandpa, Let’s Go Hunt and Run Away. Which is a nice place to end, right? They can now run away to play!
Do I need to reapply?
YES! Every sunscreen on the market needs to be reapplied after 2 hours in the sun, or even in and out of the sun. Sunscreens with chemical active ingredients (Oxybenzone, Avobenzone, Homosalate, etc) begin to lose their effectiveness after two hours, meaning you can’t rely on the coverage any longer. While mineral actives don’t lose their effectiveness, they can be wiped off or moved around by touching the face or sweating, so you should still reapply every 2 hours.
Water Resistant Reapplication
Brush On Block mineral powder sunscreens are water and sweat resistant for 80 minutes, which means you should reapply every 80 minutes if you are in water or sweating. But wiping the face, either with a hand or with a towel, can move the sunscreen, meaning you should reapply immediately if you do wipe at it.
Before reapplying to damp skin, dry off as much as possible. This is not as much for the sunscreen as for your brush…a brush that is dampened and then has sunscreen on it will cause your bristles to clump together and the powder won’t flow as it did when your brush was clean.
How to wash and clean your brush
Occasionally we get customer questions about brushes that “used to work fine” but mysteriously stop working. Our first question in these cases is always…when did you last clean or wash your brush? Often the response is, “oh, I have to wash it?” Yes, you do. Sweat and oil from your skin can coat the bristles of the brush, and then when the powder comes through, it sticks to the bristles, rather than sticking to your skin. Eventually, if your brush gets enough build-up, the bristles will clump together, making it difficult for the powder to flow into the bristles, and then for the bristles to evenly distribute the powder. So keeping those bristles clean is very important!
There are two big differences between “cleaning” and “washing” your brush.
Cleaning your brush needs to happen frequently, and does not involve water. It’s a good idea to clean your brush every other week or so, and if you are spending a lot of time outdoors getting wet or sweaty, every week is even better. We recommend cleaning your brush with a brush cleaner, like this one from Sephora. To use a brush cleaner, first put your brush in the “closed” position, then spray some of the cleaner on a tissue or paper towel. Wipe the brush bristles on the damp area in a circular motion. You will see color from the bristles on the paper towel, so occasionally spray a new spot and repeat. Once the bristles stop discoloring the paper towel, your brush head is clean. Allow it to dry for a short time before putting the cap back on.
Washing your brush should happen at least every time you refill your brush, so not as frequently. And it does involve water!
To refill your brush, you need to remove the powder cartridge by twisting it carefully past the “open” position. If you have a new refill cartridge, you can dispose of the old one now, or if you are going to refill with one of our eco-friendly refills, you can just set it aside.
Then, under running water, hold your brush, bristles pointing down, under the stream of water to dampen the bristles. Put some liquid soap in the palm of your hand. The type of soap isn’t too important, as the bristles are not made of animal hair and therefore will not dry out and get brittle. Swirl the bristles in the soap. Rinse the bristles, again taking care to keep the bristles pointing downwards. Squeeze out excess water and if you still see soap or sunscreen in that excess, repeat the process until the bristles are clean.
Once your bristles are clean and the water rinsing them is clear, wrap the bristles in a towel and squeeze to absorb as much excess moisture as possible. Then lay your brush on its side, with the bristles sticking over the edge of a counter-top and leave it all day or overnight to dry.
The reason you always want your bristles pointing downwards as you wash them is to keep water from seeping inside the tube that delivers the powder into the brush head. If, after washing your brush, you find the powder isn’t coming out as it was before, you have probably gotten some moisture inside the tube. This is an easy fix, straighten a paperclip and locate the white tube in the middle of your brush, near the base of the bristles. Stick the straightened paperclip down the tube and move it around the edges of the tube in a circle. This should dislodge any clumps that may have formed due to moisture.
How and when to refill your Brush On Block
There is one other reason your brush may stop flowing after some time of using it…it might be time for a refill! Our powder comes in sizes that will last you 2 ½ to 3 months with daily use on face neck, arms and hands. During the summer, when you need to reapply, it won’t last as long, but you can still count on about 75-90 applications per refill.
If you stand your brush up straight and look at the yellow window, don’t let the fact that you may still see some powder in the window trick you into thinking you don’t need to refill just yet. When the powder is low, it will not come through the brush as readily as it does when full, so it is a good idea to refill when you see that only about 1/3 of your yellow “window” is filled by powder when the brush is standing up.
If you are switching to another refill cartridge, be sure to empty any powder that remains into your new cartridge, so none is wasted. Whenever you refill, from one of our eco-friendly pouches or a regular cartridge, it is a good idea to do it on a piece of paper so that you can easily funnel any spills right back into your brush.
Following these steps should keep your Brush On Block working well for you for several years and many refills.