A Step-by-Step Guide to Sanitizing Your Makeup

Photo Credits: Jonathan Knowles/ Getty Images | Image Used for Illustrative Purposes Only

When it comes to makeup and its application, people often underestimate the importance of sanitation. With summer upon us, there is no shortage of oil, dirt and sweat, making cosmetic cleanliness a necessity. Not only do brushes need to be washed and taken care of, but your actual makeup products do, too.

Whether it be throwing all of your makeup in a travel bag on your way to the airport or simply rushing to work and leaving your morning routine sprawled all over the bathroom sink, germs are everywhere and can easily contaminate your products. Below, all there is to know about keeping your beloved beauty regimen pure and fresh.

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How to sanitize makeup brushes
With makeup brushes specifically, some advise cleaning them daily. However, a majority of brushes are made with natural animal hair that is sensitive to breakage. As long as you are not constantly allowing others to use your brushes, cleaning your makeup once a week should suffice.

Many makeup stores—even drugstores—sell cleansers specific to makeup brushes, but some beauty gurus swear by using dish soap or shampoo. If using a brush cleanser, we highly recommend a silicone brush cleaning mat—we love Sigma's option ($32)—to replace the possibility of ruining a towel or washcloth. These mats boast ridges and grooves to help skillfully remove all of the makeup residue throughout the brush.

After applying the recommended amount of cleanser to the brush, massage the bristles in circles on the mat. Once it looks as if the brush is no longer releasing color onto the mat, wet the bristles under water and rinse from the base to the tip. Given that the bristles are hair, they will dry how you leave them, so it is crucial that you place the brushes on their side to prevent damage. Although if your brushes have a wooden base, the wood will have softened from the water, so be sure to dry them on an angle to prevent bending.

Fortunately, cleaning the rest of your makeup is pretty simple and it all requires a basic rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) that can be found at your local drugstore or supermarket.

How to sanitize powders and palettes
The first step is to pour the rubbing alcohol into a spray bottle (you can either purchase an empty one or reuse a finished spray bottle) and make sure that it is sealed tightly. Spritz the alcohol directly on the powder and wait until the product is completely dry before using. Don’t worry—the alcohol won’t harm the makeup, just the germs!

How to sanitize mascara
Because the eyes are more prone to infection than other areas of the face, be sure to swap your mascara every month or so. While thick and full lashes are in, it is very common for mascara to be overused, get messy and dry out quickly if not sealed properly after use. If you notice that your mascara is drying out, you can run the tube under water to bring it back to life for a few more uses.

How to sanitize eyelash curlers
The pads that grip your lashes on your lash curler often get dirtied with dry mascara and other germs from the surrounding area. With all of the dirt building up, your lashes will be pulled harder than normal which can lead to pain and even eyelash loss. It hurts to think about, but even your eyelashes can stick to the gunk on the pads! Ouch! To fix this, apply some rubbing alcohol onto a cotton round and clean off the eyelash curler pads. Be sure to wait a full day before using the curler again to prevent getting any alcohol in your eyes.

How to sanitize lipstick
After falling in love with a lipstick color, it’s almost impossible not to share with friends. However, it often goes unnoticed how easily germs can be spread from the mouth. To clean your lipstick, pour some rubbing alcohol into a small cup (a shot glass will do) and dip the top of the lipstick into the alcohol for a few seconds. After removal, gently dab the alcohol off and let the lipstick dry.

How to sanitize liquid foundation
Foundations, BB creams, and tinted moisturizers are an essential part of so many makeup routines. When thrown in a travel sized bag along with your other makeup, the tubes get very dirty and germs can contaminate the product inside of the bottle. To make sure the liquid stays clean and the bottles look brand new, take a cotton round and dip it in the rubbing alcohol. Wipe off excess makeup and residue from the cap and nozzle of the bottle and let air dry. Remember to never apply foundation with your fingers! Brushes are made specifically to make your skin appear smooth and even and using your hands can infiltrate your pores with germs from the day.

How to sanitize pencils and pencil sharpeners
Although these tools go hand in hand, they are sanitized much differently. For the sharpener, pour some rubbing alcohol into a bowl and place the sharpener in. While the sharpener is being sanitized, spray your pencils with rubbing alcohol and wipe it off with a cotton round gently so not to break the tip. After about five minutes, remove the sharpener from the alcohol and dry it off.

Although this all may seem like a chore, with all of the debris, bacteria, oil, and dead skin cells that build up in your brushes and makeup, sanitizing your makeup is a necessity. Brushes should be cleaned at least once a week, eye makeup every few weeks unless you have shared with a friend or have been previously sick.

Clean brushes help to better apply product and allow them to last longer. By disinfecting the makeup itself, you can prevent sickness and make sure that the product works just as well as it did when you first bought it!