How to Shampoo your Makeup Brushes

September 2, 2009

When was the last time you shampooed your makeup brushes?

I was recently at a MAC counter picking up my favorite loose powder when I decided to ask the Sales Person a quick question about my powder brush. The brief conversation went something like this:

Me: “Do you think that it’s time for me to get a new powder brush if I’m noticing that bristles are falling out and ending up all over my face when I’m applying my powder?”

Sales Person: “No, not necessarily.  When was the last time you gave your brushes a good shampoo?”

Me: “Hmmm… I guess it would be bad if I said never?”

Sales Person: “Yeah. That could be the problem.”

Me: “Oops.” (as I lower my head in shame.)

I proceeded to tell her that I do occasionally use the MAC Brush Cleanser but that no one ever told me that I needed to shampoo my brushes. I asked her a few more questions and bought a few more items so she wouldn’t be so disgusted with me, then I headed home, with my tail between my legs, to shampoo my brushes.

Apparently, most experts suggest cleaning them once a week, but every couple of weeks is better than not at all. Cleaning your brushes more regularly will not only extend the life of the brush but also could prevent some skin problems. Dirty makeup brushes can harbor lots of dirt and bacteria, but frequent washing of your brushes can keep them, and your face, clean and healthy.

It really is simple. Let’s do this step by step, shall we?

Dirty Brushes

Dirty Blush Brushes

First, gather your dirty brushes.

Enjoy Shampoo

And your favorite shampoo.

Wet brush

To get started, wet each brush thoroughly.

Shampoo Large brush

Then, apply one to two drops of shampoo directly to each brush and gently massage the brush in between your fingers or in the palm of your hand. Do this for at least a minute or two to get all the makeup and dirt out of the brush. The bigger brushes should be cleaned one at a time.

Shampoo Small Brushes

But, you can wash a few of the smaller brushes at the same time.


Rinse each brush thoroughly. It’s very important that you rinse each brush well so you don’t leave behind soap residue, dirt, or bacteria. You can gently massage the bristles if needed, but be careful not to pull on the hairs.

Pat dry

Remove excess water and pat dry on clean towel. You can gently squeeze the brush in between the towel, if needed.

Drying Brushes

Lay the brushes on a towel to dry overnight. It’s important to lay the wet brushes flat or even pointed down at an angle. Don’t ever stand them up to dry. Some of the water could run into the bottom of the bristles and damage your brush.

Clean big brushes

Take a closer look at these after they were shampooed.

Clean brushes

They look 100% better than the ‘before’ photo!

Check each brush before you use it to make sure that it is completely dry. If the brush is still damp, then don’t use it, and whatever you do, do not use a hair dryer to dry it.

Now, wasn’t that easy? I sure wish that I had known to do this sooner. I can’t wait to use my clean brushes in the morning!


6 Comments so far

  1. Posted by noble pig

    September 2, 20094:22 pm

    I am doing this!!!
    .-= noble pig´s last blog post … My Own Itty-Bitty Survey… =-.

  2. Posted by BigSis

    September 2, 20094:59 pm

    Ok, so I admit I’ve never shampooed my brushes either. I thought you just used the MAC brush cleaner from time to time and that was sufficient. How often are you supposed to use the brush cleaner and how often to shampoo? I want to do this right! 😀

  3. Posted by LilSis

    September 2, 20099:53 pm

    Noble Pig – Honestly, my brushes were like brand spankin’ new after their little shampoo. It was definitely worth the short amount of time that it took to do it!

  4. Posted by LilSis

    September 2, 20099:55 pm

    Hey BigSis,
    I should probably consult the professionals before I say this, but I think the MAC brush cleanser is almost like a daily cleanser and the shampoo is more like a weekly cleaning.

    The shampooing of the brushes got so much more build up out of the brushes. I felt like I had brand new brushes this morning.

  5. Posted by grace

    September 3, 20099:02 am

    right, so this is something i wouldn’t have thought to do in a million years. make that a trillion years.
    .-= grace´s last blog post … banana bar bungle =-.

  6. Posted by Elizabeth

    January 30, 20127:44 pm

    It’s really important to deep condition your brushes too to extend their life and prevent breakage. The best makeup brush cleaner and conditioner that I’ve found was developed by an actual artist for artist’s brushes and now the soap is available for makeup brushes.
    It’s called JB Studios Makeup Brush Cleaner Conditioner. You find the product on Facebook at JB Studios Makeup Brush Cleaner. It has the best sent too!

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