While the Internet is an undeniably wondrous resource, there are equally undeniable repercussions that come along with our unfettered access to information. Of the infinite combinations of yin and yang when it comes to learning online, the “beauty, skin care, and health” department supplies many of the most pressing topics to approach with caution. Internet advertisements, YouTube stars, and other social media and entertainment push more and more people towards trying products within these communities. In the beauty industry, for example, celebrities and makeup gurus alike sell billions of dollars’ worth of makeup products and accessories, and consumers are eager to support what they love. Unfortunately, the quick clicks of instant shopping mean that we aren’t always being fully educated about our products in the process.
When it comes to our valuable makeup kits, knowing how to care for these products is just as important as knowing how to apply them. Beyond protecting our investments from damage, caring for our makeup products protects our own health; makeup products and accessories are known to carry and perpetuate any bacteria they come in contact with and therefore need to be cleaned and maintained carefully. Many applicators come into close contact with our mouth, nose, and eyes, all of which are prone to hosting bacteria. Especially during flu and cold seasons, it is crucial to keep our makeup kits clean, as these bacteria can get us sick, on top of their regular threats of causing acne, infections, and irritation.
First and foremost: no sharing. Even if it’s with a sibling, sharing makeup is never a good idea. Each individual hosts their own “germs,” so to speak, and since makeup is applied to those open sites mentioned above (eyes, nose, mouth), these would inevitably be making their way from one person to another. Never share applicators, brushes, sponges, lipsticks, eyeshadows, or any other product that will cause transference between people. Also, try not to use your fingers, if you can help it. Even if you wash your hands just before applying makeup, the area beneath our fingernails can be really hard to clean and can still carry germs into products we touch.
Since we don’t want to use our fingers, we’ve got loads of application products on the market to choose from, all of which have different maintenance needs. Typically speaking, only three sorts of products will be needed to clean the entirety of our “applicator” collection: a gentle, white bar soap; an alcohol-based brush cleanser; and either classic blue Dawn dish soap or a gentle, clarifying shampoo (like you would use on your own hair). Chances are you already have one, if not all of these things, but may not be using them or know how to use them effectively to clean your makeup applicators.
Brushes, sponges, and puffs will all need to be cleaned slightly differently based on what they are made out of and what they are used for. As a general rule of thumb, the drier something is, the less it’s going to be promoting these bad germs and bacteria we are trying to protect ourselves from. As a result, powder brushes and puffs can be replaced least often (maybe once every six months) and washed about once a week with warm water and either the gentle shampoo, bar soap, or dawn.
For synthetic brushes, however, and any other brushes or sponges used for more liquid-based, wet products, cleaning should happen more frequently (every other day) and brushes should be replaced more often (every 4-5 months). Consider, as well, if the products you are using with your brushes are more grease-based, like a lipstick—this is the first place where your alcohol-based makeup brush cleaner will come in handy! As a bonus, you can spritz the same spray to sanitize your eyelash curler, eyelash comb, tweezers, and eyebrow scissors (just wipe off with a clean towel after).
Keep in mind with all brushes that how you wash matters. Since cleaning calls for warm water and soap, the life and integrity of the brush could potentially be ruined if that cleansing solution penetrates the area where the bristles of the brush are glued into the brush handle. To avoid this damage, keep everything angled down when washing, and do not submerge your brush head. Wet the brush fibers, soap them in your palm or massage the soap in with your fingertips, and gently rinse away, again avoiding the glued area of the brush head (its base). Squeeze out any excess water, and let your brushes air-dry flat. Use similar motions when using the alcohol-based cleaner as necessary; you may need to work the bristles a bit more with your fingers to remove sticky product residue.
Thankfully, we now have lip kits, as well as shadows and frosty contours, and these investments are just as valuable and worthy of our protection. If you live in a hot climate year-round or seasonally, you may want to pop your lipsticks, glosses, liners, and so on, right into your fridge. Letting any makeup melt will surely ruin it, and lip wear tends to be the first to suffer in the heat. You may want to keep these products in your fridge, anyway, if you don’t use them often—the cooler temperatures help preserve the shelf-life of lipsticks and glosses, while heat and bathroom steam ruin them.
Your freezer can get involved, too! If you love to use a particular lip pencil or crayon but find that it breaks too easily, let it chill for 10 minutes or so before applying. The tip stays soft for application, glides on smoothly, and is strengthened against crumbling off.
One last thing to consider is a carrying case. If you travel often, you may want a bag with more structure that provides different little organizational pouches or more cushioned areas to keep products from jostling into each other and potentially causing damage, such as cracked pigment pans. Other bags are less for adventure and more well suited to keeping items together and easily accessible. Remember that keeping your makeup in the bathroom could expose it to harmful heat and humidity, so if you are going to need to stow it elsewhere, a makeup bag will keep it tidy, together, and easy to transport.