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Friday, April 1, 2016

Review: Real Techniques Brush Cleansing Palette & Brush Cleansing Gel

A while back when Ulta was running a good sale on Real Techniques, I finally broke down and purchased the new Brush Cleansing Palette. You know I'm pretty much obsessed with using silicone kitchenware from the dollar store to clean my brushes (click HERE and HERE if you have no idea what I'm talking about), but you also know that I'm all about gadgets. In other words, I just HAD to try this one.

Since this palette comes with two packets of the Real Techniques Brush Cleansing Gel, I thought I'd also review that for you today. There was enough product in the packets for a few brush cleanings, so that part of the review is more of a "mini-review" since I don't own the full-size product.

So let's get right into it!

Real Techniques Brush Cleansing Palette
(retail: $14.99;  comes with two packets of Brush Cleansing Gel)

You can purchase this product at pretty much all of the retailers that carry Real Techniques in your area. But if you buy it at Ulta, they always run $3.50 off $10 coupons on their homepage, which means you can knock it down to $11.49. Even better if you wait until the next time Ulta is running a sale on Real Techniques, since you can stack their coupons on top of their sales for even more savings.

Made in China

This palette measures roughly 5 inches long and 2 inches across.

On the back of the palette, there is a strap for your hand.

Close-up of the raised dots for cleaning large brushes

Close-up of the raised dots for cleaning medium brushes

Close-up of the raised dots for cleaning small brushes

I also want to mention that the silicone used to make this palette is soft and pliable. You can easily bend it:

Here are some pics documenting my first attempt to use this product (sorry for the change in color in these photos; I took them in my bathroom):

For my first test-run, I used a heavily soiled Sephora face brush (it's one of my favorite brushes that I use daily--you can read my review HERE). I made sure to use this to apply my long-wear liquid foundation, blend my long-wear liquid concealer, apply face powder, and also blush (all over the course of a few days). I really wanted to get it good and dirty to put this palette (and cleanser) to the test.

The instructions say to place a dime-size amount of the Real Techniques Brush Cleansing Gel in the center of the palette.

Then, to add some water.

Then I started swirling as directed. After I loosened up a good amount of makeup from my brush, I followed the directions and rinsed my brush. At that point, I felt like there was still some cleansing gel in the bristles, so I went back for a second pass.

In the pic above, I rinsed out the palette but did NOT add any additional water to the palette. For my second pass, I just worked with the water that remained on the palette after rinsing. As you can see, there was still a good amount of cleansing gel left in the bristles of my brush.

In the pic above, I rinsed the palette once again, and also rinsed my brush once again. I still felt like there was some lingering cleansing gel in my brush, so I went for a third pass.

Not nearly as much soapy residue this time around, but still a little bit.

After the third pass, I was satisfied with how clean my brush appeared after rinsing, so I stopped after that.

Real Techniques states that you can lay your brushes across the top of the palette to dry them, which is a nice added feature.


What I like about his palette: 

After using this palette multiple times on a variety of brushes, both with the Real Techniques Brush Cleansing Gel and also with my holy grail brush cleaner (Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Liquid Soap), I can tell you that if I had never used dollar store silicone kitchenware products before to clean my brushes, I would probably be in love with this palette. But because I HAVE used other silicone products to clean my brushes, I found that I liked this palette, but didn't love it. I enjoy the added feature of being able to strap it to your hand for a little extra control. I also like that the size of the palette isn't big or bulky, so it's easy to clean, dry, and store. Also, the three different raised textures really do have a function. The bigger dots work well for cleaning bigger brushes, and the smaller dots work better for cleaning eyeshadow and eyeliner brushes. Lastly, I like that the silicone is soft and pliable and that the palette itself can double as a holder for drying your brushes.

What I don't like about this palette:

I find that I really don't get better results from this palette than I do with my dollar store silicone kitchenware gadgets. I think that if the silicone device you're using has some type of raised pattern, it's going to get your brushes clean. Yes, I like that there are three different options in the Real Techniques palette, but there are also different options in many of the dollar store products. I also found myself not loving the lip that runs around the perimeter of this palette as much as I thought I would. When I first saw this palette, I thought, "Wow, that's clever!" But in reality, I find that the water splashes around and spills out the sides during use, so it doesn't really do a great job at containing water and avoiding a mess. I find that I have to use this over the sink, just like any other silicone device.

What I like about this cleansing gel:

The scent is lovely. It's a sweet, fresh, floral fragrance.

What I don't like about this cleansing gel:

Just about everything else. I find that I have to use a lot of product to get my brushes clean, but then the product lingers in the bristles and doesn't rinse easily (as pictured above). I have tried this cleansing gel on a variety of brushes and yes, it does clean some brushes better than others, but for the most part I believe that my Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Liquid Soap does a far better job, and I only have to use one or two drops per brush (which is a minuscule amount given the size/price of Dr. Bronner's). For some of my brushes, I found that I had to apply even more Real Techniques Brush Cleansing Gel than I did in the photos above to get the brushes clean. So I could see myself blowing through a full bottle of the Real Techniques in no time, and I just found it very frustrating that this product didn't rinse easily from my brush bristles in the way that Dr. Bronner's does.

FINAL VERDICT: If you've never used a silicone device to clean your brushes before and you can get this one on sale, it might be worth a shot--especially if the idea of being able to strap it to your hand is a draw for you. It's also nice that the palette itself can double as a holder for drying your brushes. But if you're not too concerned with those features, I feel that there are other, less expensive alternatives out there (even some that may be lurking at your local dollar store) that can achieve very similar results. As for the Brush Cleansing Gel, well that's a pass for me for all of the reasons outlined above. I'd choose my good ol' Dr. Bronner's any day.

Do you own either of these Real Techniques products? If so, how are they working for YOU? 

The products featured in this post were purchased with personal funds. For more information, click here.


  1. Replies
    1. You're so welcome, Christina! Thank you. :)

  2. Thanks for the review G! I just purchased this from my local BB&B with a $5 off coupon, but have not used it yet. I thought that the bigger size would be easier to work with than the little silicone pad that comes with the Sephora Solid Brush Cleaner as that one is a bit small and my brushes are constantly slipping off of it. I may not even bother trying the brush soap after hearing how much rinsing is required to get it out of the brushes.

    1. Score on the BBB $5 off coupon!! I totally would have purchased it too if I had that. :)

      The reviews on the Ulta site for the cleansing gel are very mixed, so maybe it might work for you, but I just could not get it to work for me. :( I would probably just keep the packets in a drawer for emergencies!

  3. Hey G, thanks for the thorough review. I've not used the palette, but I do own the full sized brush cleanser. It's just alright in my opinion. Like you, I find that I have to use quite a bit on each brush just to get it clean. Plus, it has a viscosity similar to honey making it thick (not easy to dispense from the bottle) and stringy. Don't even think about using the cleanser on your real technique sponges. Super fail for me as it does not spread or suds up easily. I use it on my brushes because I paid a lot of money for it at Ulta. Next time, I'll just buy Dawn.

    1. Thank YOU! You're absolutely right about how it doesn't foam up easily,and I really appreciate you letting us know that it also doesn't dispense easily or work well on sponges. I didn't even attempt to try it on my sponges after seeing how it worked for brushes. What a bummer.

      I used to use Dawn on my brushes years ago, but it started drying them out pretty badly. Does that ever happen for you? If you've never tried the Dr Bonners peppermint liquid soap, I highly recommend getting the small bottle for a few bucks at Target, CVS, Rite Aid, etc. Since it's made for skin (you can even brush your teeth with it, although I've never tried that!) it's really kind to brushes but also manages to get them extremely clean. Even the smallest bottle lasts a really long time since you only need one or two drops per brush. :)

  4. Love the review, G! Did you see that all the MAC pro palette refill pans are only $6 instead of $10? Plus free shipping with the code MACEXP

    -Caitlin Farroh

    1. Thanks!!! And yep, I actually did big post announcing the price drop on the MAC refills last month when it first happened. I was freaking out! Lol!

      Also, thanks for the code. I'm wondering if that gets you free two day shipping? You get free everyday shipping on all orders at MAC, no code required. :)

  5. Great review. Its because of your that I got a dollar store silicon trivet or potholder or whatever it is. Works great for me.

    1. Thanks, Randi! I'm so happy that the dollar store version is working for you! Yay!!! :)

    2. I use the Dollar Tree silicone pot holder and Dr. Bronner Peppermint and love it.

  6. I like my brush egg a lot, so maybe I'd like this because of the strap to hold it in my hand? I really like using solid soaps so I'd stay away from this liquid, doesn't sound good at all.

  7. I really like the brush palette. i didnt like the brush cleaner until i added a drop of olive oil to the cleaner for synthetic brushes which made it work fine.

  8. Thanks for a detailed unbiased review! I wonder how this compares to sigma cleaning mat. To buy or not to buy.

  9. I'm from the old school, G.
    Olive oil, shampoo and hands. I think I'll probably try one of those silicone pads or gloves but not this one because I like to experiment but products price must be always reasonable.
    By the way, does the Real Technique leave the bristles soft?
    Thank you for this review!!!

  10. I thought it was just me but I did not care for the brush cleaner at all. I love my real techniques brushes but did not care for the cleansing gel. I agree with the others that it was thick, did not lather and was difficult to rinse out of the brushes. I had read some great reviews for it online so was surprised at how poorly it performed. I've been using Dr. Bonner's for quite a while now based on your suggestion and it is still number one for me! Thanks for your reviews and advice G!

  11. Way back when I bought my sigma brushes, probably 3 years ago, they sent a sample of the brush cleaning mitt. It's about 3 inches long and shaped like the mitt but it's a flat piece - almost like they cut it out of a mitt. It has a sample of each of the cleaning textures on it. I use the heck out of that thing. I figure why buy the whole mitt, I like this sample! It does everything I need! That and baby shampoo does the job for my brushes.


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