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Article: How the brush works

How the brush works

How the brush works

One of the most common questions we get at Brush On Block is “how do I get the brush to work?” We love this question, because the alternative is often a review that says “the brush does not work.” That review makes us sad, because while we know that every once in a while there is a defective brush, we also know that in most cases the brush works fine, the user just needs to understand how it works.

We also firmly believe that there’s no such thing as a stupid question. We love to help customers learn to use our brush, because once you know how it works, we are sure you will become another happy customer! Some people call us, some people email us, some people post on social media, but no matter how you ask it, we want to get you the correct answer. And if you are too shy for one of those methods of reaching out, perhaps this blog post will help you!

The most important thing to know is that ALL Brush On Block brushes have an OPEN and a CLOSED position, and if you do not put your brush in the OPEN position, it will not work. This is so that when you carry your brush in your golf bag, backpack or handbag, you can put it in the closed position so that the powder will not all go into the cap, creating a mess. The brush flows when you want it to and not when you don’t.

Three different types of brushes

The first thing we need to determine is which style brush you are using. The logo on your brush will help you identify it.

Original Brush

Original Brush On Block logo
Our original Translucent brush is marked with a Brush On Block logo that looks like the one to the right. Our Touch of Tan is still currently available in this brush as well. Our original brush is unique in that the “powder cartridge” is both the open/close and also how you attach a refill to the brush. This can lead to a little confusion, because as you turn the powder cartridge from closed to open, if you twist too fast, you may pass the open position and unscrew the powder cartridge. No worries if you do this, now you know how to attach a refill! But when you screw the cartridge back on, make sure that you screw it as far as it will go. If you stop when you feel resistance, you are likely going to stop in the OPEN position.

Updated Brush

New Brush On Block logo
Our new brush is marked with the logo to the right. This updated brush is different than the original in that the open/close and the refill are located in different places. This makes the open/close more straight forward, but could mean you unscrew the powder cap if you aren’t careful. We always recommend holding the brush in one hand near the logo, then with your other hand, put your thumb right on the part that says Mineral Powder Sunscreen. The new brush also has a convenient marking on the back of the brush. There is a small line below the words Open and Close that show which position your brush is in. Just use caution that you do not accidentally twist the bottom cap when you twist your brush, as this could result in a powdery mess. If it makes you nervous, put a little piece of tape or a sticker over it so you can’t accidentally move it.


Lastly, our BOB KIDS brush is pretty easy to understand, because this brush is not refillable (we wanted to avoid spills in the hands of small ones). Twist the blue portion of the brush that has writing on it until it stops. Voila! It’s open! Twist it back so the words line up with the logo—closed!

BOB KIDS brush diagram

Prime your brush

Once you have your brush in the OPEN position for the first time, regardless of which brush it is, it is not a bad idea to “prime” your brush so that it will flow evenly from the first flick.

With the brush in the OPEN position, but with the cap that covers the bristles still on the brush, turn the brush upside down and tap it firmly a few times on a nearby surface. Then remove the cap, pull the slider that covers the bristles down. Then give the brush a flick of the wrist (as if there were water on your hands that you were trying to fling off). You should now notice a small spot of powder at the tips of the bristles that was not there before. You may even see a tiny puff of powder come out when you do this.

See powder in the bristles

It isn’t supposed to come all the way out

We sometimes hear that “the powder isn’t coming out of the brush.” That’s good! Any powder that comes entirely out of the brush is powder that will not be protecting you from the sun. Instead, you want the powder inside the brush head. There is a little tube in there that moves the powder from the cartridge into the center of the brush, and once you know that the brush is flowing, you are in business. The job of the soft, non-irritating bristles of our brushes is to apply the powder to the skin.

Using a circular, buffing motion is best for this, as it provides great coverage, and also helps the powder adhere to your skin. Little light strokes with the tips of the bristle will not get the powder where you need it to be, so buff it like you mean it!

Because the powder is difficult to see on most skin tones, sometimes people worry that it isn’t still going into the brush head and onto the skin, because it is difficult to see. Once the brush is flowing and you are buffing, this isn’t really a problem, but if it makes you more comfortable, you can always give the brush a tiny flick as you move between areas that you are powdering.

How do I know it's going on my skin?

If the brush is open and flowing, powder is moving from the center of the brush to your skin as you buff. But if you want to see for yourself, the easy test is to first apply to the back of one of your hands. Buff it like you mean it, and do it for about 10 seconds. Then compare that hand to the one without sunscreen. You’ll see that it looks more matte, a little powdery, and you may see a hint of color, depending on your skin tone. That means it really is working! After using it a few times, you’ll become more comfortable with it.

How do I know if I’ve applied enough?

This is a great question, because you can’t premeasure out some to apply like you can with a lotion. So instead, use time as your measurement. We recommend that you buff on your face, neck, arms and hands for about 15 seconds per small area. So that would mean each half of your face for 15 seconds, then your t-zone for another 15. The back of each hand for 15 seconds, your neck for 15 seconds, each forearm for 15 seconds, your décolleté for 15 seconds. All told, that’s almost 2 minutes. But you’ll find the time goes quickly, because it feels good.

If you are applying to a child, we like to say 2 verses of “Baby Shark” for each half of the face, then 2 more verses for every other area you are covering. Of course the smaller the child, the more you can cover in those 2 verses. And we apologize for getting it stuck in your head. But seriously, singing a song AND the fluffy purple brush? We mean it when we say BOB KIDS makes sunscreen fun--for kids. For parents, singing and buffing is better than trying to get them to hold still, don't you think?

After you’ve applied

When you are done, pull the brush sleeve back up over the bristles, and replace the cap. Then click the brush back into the closed position and toss it in your bag or put it in your pocket for later.

How often to reapply

The Drug Facts panel on every sunscreen should tell you to reapply it “at least every 2 hours.” (If it does not say this, put it down and move onto one that does, as the FDA requires this language on every sunscreen. If it isn’t there, the company is cutting corners and not following FDA requirements.) Every 2 hours when outdoors or by a window (driving a car, perhaps) is very good, but it is just a guideline. As a fairly pale person, when I’m in the sun, I have gotten so that I can tell when it is time to reapply by how hot my skin feels. The trick is to reapply right before it feels hot.

If you are swimming or sweating, all of our powders are water resistant for 80 minutes, so just reapply that often, or immediately after you towel off your skin.