How to keep bacteria out of your makeup products

If you never think about how long that powder, foundation, eyeliner, and especially mascara, have been in your medicine cabinet or purse, perhaps you should. Those cosmetic products could be bacterial breeding grounds.

Never Touch or Share Your Cosmetic Products

“My estheticians are very careful when applying makeup,” says Helga Surratt, president of About Faces Day Spa & Salon in Towson, MD. “The simplest and easiest way to handle makeup and not contaminate it is just don’t touch it” with your bare hands.

To keep your makeup bacteria-free, try this advice:

  • Take foundation out of the container before applying.Remove stick or pressed foundation with a small, clean makeup spatula or pour a small amount of liquid foundations on to a little pallet or small plate. That way you avoid contaminating the container with your fingers. Use brushes to apply makeup for better results.
  • Clean your beauty care applicators. When you’re finished with your spatula or pallet and brushes, clean them thoroughly with soap and hot water — every time you use them. A brush cleaner is a great way to get rid of any bacteria on the brush and remove excess makeup as well. You can do the same thing with blush and lipstick applicators.

And, no matter how much your sister or best friend pleads, do not share your cosmetic products with them. Their bacteria can contaminate you, too.

Special Care to Prevent Eye Infections

These cosmetic products need special attention.

  • Eyeliner. Wipe off your eyeliner pencil with alcohol on a fuzz-free cotton pad (found near the cotton balls at your drugstore); with alcohol, it will dry quickly and stay sterile. Don’t use the eyeliner on the moist, pink part of your eyelids. Most eyeliners are not designed to be used there nor close to your tear ducts (the inner corner of your eye).
  • Mascara. To avoid conjunctivitis and other eye infections, replace your mascara every three to four months. Mark the month you purchased the mascara on the side of the tube with a permanent marker to help you remember to buy a new one. Also, don’t shove the brush back and forth in the tube to get more mascara on it — when you do that, you’re also pushing air and bacteria inside the product. Instead, spin the brush around in the tube before you pull it out and use it. And be careful when using mascara not to touch or scratch your eye – apply only to the tips of your lashes. Otherwise, you risk scratching your cornea and raising your risk of eye infections or vision loss.
  • Cream or powder eye shadow. These cosmetic products should be treated the same way as foundation and lipstick: Use a brush or spatula and pallet. Don’t touch eye shadow with your fingers.

Remember to replace all of your beauty care products every year, and your mascara every three months. Make sure you don’t touch your makeup with your fingers, and keep all of your makeup applicators clean and sterile. This kind of careful treatment will keep germs and bacteria at bay.

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