Fancy Brush-Cleaning Mat vs. Generic Silicone Oven Mitt: Which Gets the Makeup Out Better?

My mom and I tested the cleansing power of Sigma's new multi-texture mat against a cheap kitchen staple.
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My mom and I tested the cleansing power of Sigma's new multi-texture mat against a cheap kitchen staple.

I’m a stickler for washing my makeup brushes. I didn’t used to be, but bacteria can be pretty gross, and I’m dealing with some lingering acne, so my brushes get a good scrub-a-dub at least once a week depending on how often I shellac my face.

My mom, on the other hand, has never washed her makeup brushes. Ever. To be fair, she only uses two of them and she normally just puts on makeup with her hands, but still. Ew. The last time her brushes were cleaned was the last time I washed them, which was over a year ago. Again: ew.

So when the new Sigma Spa Express Brush Cleaning Mat landed on my desk, I devised a plan to get my mom’s brushes clean and run a little science experiment. We’re testing which works better: the Sigma mat or a plain ol' silicone oven mitt. 

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This is a mat vs. mitt match-up because I haven’t been able to find a silicone potholder that doesn’t have a fabric backing. I nixed the fabric-lined ones because it would get gross and soaked while using it to clean the brushes. I know that fabric-free silicone mats are out there, but for the most part, your generic silicone oven mitt or mat will come with a similar texture to the one I’m using, so we shall carry on.

First up: the Sigma Spa Express Brush Cleaning Mat.

It’s basically just a miniature-sized version of the original Sigma Spa Brush Cleaning Mat, and it runs $25 (saving you $7 off the original). There are seven different textures in the silicone to give you different options for different-sized brushes. It comes with super-strong suction cups on the back to help it stay in place while you clean, and has a handy dandy cut out to fit nicely around the drain of a sink.

Concealer brush getting washed on the smaller eyeshadow side.

Concealer brush getting washed on the smaller eyeshadow side.

For the Sigma mat, I had my mom clean up her blush brush of choice, the BareMinerals Handy Buki brush, and just so we had more than one test subject, my E.L.F. concealer brush.

Blush brush getting refined.

Blush brush getting refined.

When my mom started to see the dirty bubbles, she immediately said, “Oh! That’s significant!” And it was. Lots of gunk was going down the drain by using the Sigma Spa Express Brush Cleaning Mat.

We both liked the different textures on the Sigma Spa Express Brush Cleaning Mat. There are a few textures that seem less useful, like the target-shaped one on the eyeshadow side, but for the most part they all get a big thumbs-up. The variation of heights in the textures made it easier to get in-between all the bristles. Also, the knobby one for face brushes really got up into the longer brush fibers without having to work too hard.

Something sudsy I noticed that my mom didn’t is when I’ve cleaned my brushes with this mat, I get all the soap out. I always find with using the mitt, that I have to go back and re-rinse brushes because things get foamy when I squeeze the water out, which is a huge pet peeve of mine.

Next up: generic silicone oven mitt.

I was surprised she uses a paddle foundation brush because they never work for me!

I was surprised she uses a paddle foundation brush because they never work for me!

With the oven mitt, my mom washed up her foundation brush from Estee Lauder, and my Real Techniques Buffing Brush.

Here you can see the smaller texture much more clearly.

Here you can see the smaller texture much more clearly.

Her reaction to the oven mitt was pretty much the exact same: she just kept saying it was significant. She liked the mitt better for cleaning her paddle foundation brush because it was, in her words, gentler than she thought the Sigma mat would have been. 

Something my mom noticed that I didn’t was that she thought she needed to push harder with the Buffing Brush to get in-between the fibers because the texture was so short, and she thought that it could damage the bristles with regular use.

All the cleaned up brushes.

All the cleaned up brushes.

Here’s the deal: all the brushes got clean. Germs and old makeup begone, and all the brushes were clean as a whistle. So which to choose? I broke it down to the core of the generic vs. name-brand fight. 

The cost.

I asked my mom, given the $15 difference in cost, would it sway her opinion one way or the other? She said yes, because although the generic mitt wasn’t perfect it did get the job done.

Us!

Us!

So what if cost didn’t matter? She said Sigma all the way, and I’d have to agree.

  • What would you choose: a plain silicone mitt from the grocery store or the tricked out Sigma Spa Express Brush Cleaning Mat?
  • How do you wash your makeup brushes, and how often?
  • Any fun parent-plus-makeup stories?