10 Ways To Germ-Proof Your Makeup Routine
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Coming Clean1 of 11
By Kelly Mickle
Not to gross you out, but… "Makeup products harbor organisms that can multiply and cause infections, if they never get washed," says Philip Tierno, Ph.D., a clinical professor of microbiology and pathology at New York University. Read on to find out about ten bad habits that cause bacteria to spread, and how to keep your routine germ-free.
Eye Sore2 of 11
The Mistake: Using old mascara.
The Fix: Keep your mascara for too long and you may be coating your lashes in bacteria, according to a study in Optometry. Bacteria naturally present in your eyes can be transferred to the wand, contaminating the tube with germs that lead to staph infections and pink eye. While most mascara contains preservatives that keep bacteria from growing, that only works for about three months. To be safe, you should replace your mascara four times a year.
Stay Sharp3 of 11
The Mistake: Applying eyeliner, eyebrow liner and lip liner with a dull pencil.
The Fix: Sharpen makeup pencils once a week and try to use a disinfectant wipe between each use. "Shaving the top layer off will remove infection-causing bacteria—plus, it's much easier to apply," says celebrity makeup artist Sonia Kashuk. Just don't forget to clean out the sharpener with a little soap and water, followed by disinfectant.
Brush Up4 of 11
The Mistake: You haven't washed your makeup brushes—ever.
The Fix: Your brushes collect bacteria if they remain unwashed. Kashuk suggests rinsing them out daily, using a brush cleaner or even just warm, soapy water to clean them, then squeezing the water out with your fingers. "The bristles are heavier when wet and will lose their shape if you stand them up, so lay them flat to dry," says Kashuk.
Lip Service5 of 11
The Mistake: Applying lipstick when you've got a cold.
The Fix: "Germs can live on the tip of your lipstick and you're more vulnerable to other bugs if your immune system is already compromised," says Dr. Tierno. "Wipe the outside of the case and rub the surface of the lipstick with an alcohol wipe before applying," he says.
Lash Back6 of 11
The Mistake: Using an eyelash curler caked with old mascara.
The Fix: "Just like you wouldn't reuse a fork without washing it, you should always start with a clean eyelash curler to curl your lashes," says Dr. Tierno. "Un-cleaned, the device can harbor organisms that may get into your eyes and cause irritation and infection." Clean your lash curler with a disinfectant wipe after every use.
Counter Culture7 of 11
The Mistake: Taking your makeup bag to the bathroom.
The Fix: "Women often carry their makeup bags with them and set it, and other beauty products, down on top of counters in public spaces and restrooms where they pick up bacteria," says Dr. Tierno. Set your bag on a paper towel or keep it inside your purse to avoid picking up unwanted bugs.
Flush Away8 of 11
The Mistake: Leaving your makeup and beauty products near the toilet.
The Fix: "When toilets flush they can aerosolize fecal matter—which can land on your products," says Dr. Tierno. Eww. "Unless your toilet is confined to it's own small room, store your makeup and beauty supplies—don't forget your toothbrush!—in a closed cupboard," he advises.
Go Plastic9 of 11
The Mistake: Using cloth and leather makeup bags that look great, but are tricky to clean.
The Fix: "Stick with makeup bags made of plastic and nylon," says Kashuk. "Once or twice a month empty them out and clean the lining with disinfectant wipes." Bonus: Plastic makeup bags are inexpensive so you can afford a new one every year.
Time Sensitive10 of 11
The Mistake: Hoarding foundation, concealer and lipstick that you haven't worn in years.
The Fix: Unlike food, makeup products aren't required to have expiration dates so you can't look at the label to see if it's still good. "If it smells different, looks cake-y and dried out or the ingredients look like they've separated, toss it," says Dr. Tierno. According to Dr. Tierno and Kashuk, most creamy or liquid products last 12 months, while powder or solid products, including lipstick, last two to three years.
Hands Off11 of 11
The Mistake: Dipping dirty fingers into jars or touching the tips of tubes.
The Fix: "Always wash your hands before doing your makeup," says Kashuk. "Don't let makeup build up on the tube opening—clean it periodically with an alcohol wipe—and keep lids and caps screwed on tight to avoid exposing the formula to the air and potential germs."
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