Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Info: Make-up/product hygiene

After doing a lot of clearouts and reading lots of articles I have decided to do a little post on make-up hygiene and when to throw products out.  This is just what I have learnt so far- please feel free to correct parts or share your own tips.

Why is it important to clean out your products and tools?

A few reasons, but the main one.  Bacteria.  It can cause all sorts of nasties- eye infections, cold sores, wound infections, spots, rashes, itches,...  

The tools- brushes, sponges, tweezers. Lets start with the easy bit.

These should be cleaned at least once a week- more if possible.

After watching panacea81's tips on youtube and reading lots of MUA interviews I have come to the conclusion that most people seem to clean their brushes once a week with brush cleaner, and use makeup removing face wipes to swipes after each use as a quick fill unless the brushes are really dirty.  Me?  I use Johnson's baby shampoo to clean my brushes and keep them soft.  I have heard of a lot of people using MAC's cleaner but it also costs a lot more than baby shampoo!

Why?  Whatever touches your face will pick up and leave oil, grease, and bacteria.  Bacteria is one of the main causes of spots.  Not only will you infect your face with all sorts of nasties, but you will also infect your products too.

TIP. Just make sure you dont dry the brushes upside down or the water will run up the inside and destroy the glue that holds the bristles inside.  I dry mine with an old coat hanger.  I peg rubber bands on to the coat hanger and then wrap my brushes inside the bands.  This holds them snugly up the right way.


So on to each product;

Please bare in mind that this is just a guideline.   You know if your make-up is looking or smelling odd and needs to be thrown out!

Foundation  I find pump action is best for hygienic purposes.  The applicator goes nowhere near the rest of the product, and it is airtight keeping the product from going off for longer.  I use a foundation brush.  I used to use a sponge, but they harbour bacteria- and are difficult to completely wash.  Be careful if you used fingers to apply- make sure you place a small amount of product in one palm, and used that as your source (rather than directly from the bottle).  Expiration: Generally water based up to 12 months, oil based up to 18 months.  Some have a date on the packaging.

Concealer  It is especially important not to put concealer directly onto the skin.  Use your own brush and swatch some on your hand.  The last thing you want to do is cover up a spot with bacteria infected concealer- and then infect the concealer and then put that on other spots at a later date!  Expiration generally 12 months.  TIP Pencils can be sharpened if dry or contaminated.

Powders are generally used directly from the pan.  They can last a long time, but be careful to wash the brushes.  I find some powders go really hard after a while- throw them out as thy are dry and will no longer stick to your skin.  Expiration can be as long as 3 years if not dirty or dry before then!

Eye products- never use any if you have an eye infection as you will infect the product (especially if liquid) and re-infect your eye on every application!  If you have applied by accident then sorry, tie to throw it out!

Mascara gets infected very easily.  And there is no way around it unless you have 4-6 spare wands to use each time you want to apply the product!  TIP never pump the mascara as it just compacts air into the tube and aids the bacteria/drying of the product.  Expiration 4-6 months.  Yes, time to throw a few mascaras out!

Eyeliner/lipliner comes in different forms.  Pencils can be sharpened thus remove any dry product.  I find twisty product dry out quicker (and I never know how much is left!)  Expiration up to three years with pencils.

Lipstick in traditional sticks is best.  Swatch it on your hand and use a lip brush.  This will look neater and avoid cross contamination.  Expiration 1-4 years!  If it dries or smells then out it quick!

Nail polish can always be rescued a few times by adding a few drops of polish remover.  After a while this stops working and that is when I throw mine out.

**EXTRA TIP** Keep Lipstick and nail polish in the fridge and it will last longer.  This will also help the nail polish apply better AND dry quicker!! Just make sure they are closed properly first!

Other products

Creams, lotions and gels seem to go off in about a year.  Obviously items where you pour or squeeze into your hand will not pick up bacteria or dirt off your hand.  Jars where you put your hand in might only last 6 months.  I use cotton wool where possible, and avoid putting used pads back in contact with the product. I also try to used fair-trade or environmentally friendly cotton wool.  Q-tips are great for getting a small blob of product out of a container.

General rule

Sort out your products once a year.  If you have not used a product in a year then evaluate if you should keep it.  Keep things sealed until you need to use them as this will make it easier to know if you should be throwing it out or not.

If you are in doubt, then out it.  Is it worth getting a huge spot/infection over?

So happy sorting!

And remember- NEVER use display makeup on your face.  I have seen this first hand (and the resulting hospital trips because the makeup had been used by 1000 other bacteria infected people! Yuck.).  We dont have the same immunities and all carry ecoli bacteria for example....


I hope you have enjoyed this post- I am not an expert, this is just what I have learnt so please feel free to share your thought, tips or rules!



  1. Thanks for this post, it was helpful :)
    I didn't know about the nail polish in the fridge trick :) xx

  2. Nice post. I knew about the fridge thing but would need to buy another fridge to hold all my lippies and polishes! tee hee

    I don't worry too much about throwing products out as I tend to use them way before anything goes funky. Brush wise I tend to use liquid hand soap or a gentle shampoo.




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