How To Germ-Proof Your Make-Up Bag

Studies show nine out of ten make-up bags harbour germs, with many of us still using products up to three months past their expiration date. No wonder beauty experts constantly urge us to clean our kit more often. From the right cleaning equipment to the best storage tips, here’s some advice to help you get started.

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Understand The Problem

“Oils from our skin and bacteria can build up very quickly (usually within days), which also compromises performance, while transferring germs onto the products and tools we use daily. Eventually, this will lead to breakouts, irritation and possibly infections – especially around the eye area. That’s why it’s so important to keep on top of good cleanliness and ensure you’re washing your make-up bag properly and regularly.” – Make-up artist Warren Dowdall

Store Your Beauty Items Wisely

“A lot of people don’t know this, but storing make-up in a cool, dark place is essential to its longevity. Direct sunlight can interfere with colour, but what’s more, warm conditions – even if only slight – can encourage the growth of bacteria. It’s also worth sharpening your eye pencils every time you use them and wiping them down weekly to minimise the chance of infection.” – Warren

Know When It’s Time To Chuck It

“If your make-up looks or smells funny, then it’s too old and needs to be replaced. Eye make-up is the biggest concern, as mascara is notorious for causing infections. You should hear a pop as the mascara wand comes out. If this doesn’t happen, too much air has got into the chamber and this means it may have become an unhealthy breeding ground for bacteria. Likewise, if you use your hands to apply cream make-up, remember this introduces bacteria into these products, so try to replace and change them every nine months. The same goes for lipstick – these can harbour infections inside the tube, so replace them every six months, or more often if you find you’re suffering with dry, crispy lips. It goes without saying that lipstick should never be shared either.” – Skincare expert Dr Deborah Lee

Don’t Neglect Your Make-Up Bag

“It’s true that the tools and products are the biggest issue, but your bag needs some attention, too. Wash it at least once a month, on top of regular alcohol spritzing. This not only keeps everything clean, but it’s an opportunity to stay organised, switch up your products and throw away things that may have expired.” – Warren

A lot of people don’t know this, but storing make-up in a cool, dark place is essential to its longevity.
Warren Dowdall

Make Use Of Your Fridge

“Your bathroom often becomes a hot and humid environment, which is why some experts advocate keeping eye make-up in the fridge – the same goes for skincare as it can be seriously soothing – especially if you have a chronic condition. It also helps preserve everything and keep formulas fresh. Finally, store your brushes upside down in a cup. They need to be exposed to the fresh hair, not in a hot or damp make-up bag.” – Deborah

Know Which Tools Require What

“As a general rule, brushes should be cleaned at least once a week to get rid of bacteria and keep them in the best possible condition. Sponges and tanning mitts, however, require more immediate action. You should never leave a damp sponge in your make-up bag as this will encourage the growth of bacteria and mould. If you leave it to dry, be sure to leave it to air in an open space. It’s also important you don’t leave your brushes standing up to dry. This will cause the moisture to seep into the glue in the base, which in turn, can dissolve and cause the brush hairs to become loose. Instead, once you’ve cleaned them, reshape the hair gently, then leave your brushes on a towel on a countertop with the brush hairs hanging over the edge. This will allow excess moisture to drain off and the brushes to air dry. As for actual products, you can sharpen pencils to minimise risk of infection and use an alcohol rub over powder products to keep them fresh. As for lipsticks, try scraping off just a little of the top to kill any bacteria every two weeks.” – Warren

Invest In The Right Cleaning Equipment

“Using a gentle cleanser is vital – especially for cleaning brushes and sponges. You can try a silicone-free shampoo if you’re on a budget, but ideally invest in a conditioning brush cleanser to give your beauty tools a thorough clean, as well as leaving them soft and free from damage. Steer clear of harsh, abrasive formulas, including dish soap which can end up leaving the fibres on your tools dry and textured. Instead, look for ingredients like witch hazel and nourishing almond oil. If you have used a strong ingredient and your bristles feel rough, clean them again and try adding a few drops of extra virgin olive oil to your cleanser. It’s guaranteed to bring them back to life.” – Warren

Remember Your Purchase Dates 

“A simple way to keep bacteria at bay is to date your products. To do this, stick a piece of masking tape on your beauty products with the date you purchased it. This way, you’ll remember when you bought it and when it should be changed. As a reminder, mascara should be replaced every three months, eyeshadow, pencils and lipsticks every six and any cream make-up nine months – the same goes for powders, too.” – Deborah

Look For Spray Cleaning Formulas

“If you want to minimise the build-up of daily germs, use a cleaning spray between washes. The same applies to your make-up bag or anything you put your products and tools into – think drawers and make-up containers. Keep all of them clean and disinfected by using an alcohol spray of between 62-71% and wipe them down weekly to ensure your storage is as hygienic as possible. You can also look for sprays that contain hydrogen peroxide – both will kill microbes and bacteria effectively.” – Warren

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