Do you know what’s scarier than the way I look before I put on “my face” every morning? Answer: the harmful bacteria, mold, and fungus that can live in my makeup and makeup brushes and cause eye infections such as conjunctivitis (“pink eye”), impetigo, staph infections, allergic reactions, hives, rashes, cold sores, clogged pores, and pimples. Pretty scary, right? To keep makeup germ free and hygienic, follow these simple tips:

Clean Your Makeup Brushes

Makeup brushes can be a bacteria-laden hot spot since makeup residue combined with dust and moisture gets trapped in the fine bristles of the brush, leading to bacterial growth. Never cleaned your makeup brushes before? You’re not alone. According to Allure Magazine, 45 percent of women say they never clean their makeup brushes. The experts say makeup brushes should be cleaned at least once a month (or twice a month if you have acne-prone skin). Instead of spending your money on a store-bought makeup brush cleanser such as MAC Brush Cleanser ($14) or Estee Lauder Makeup Brush Cleanser ($15.50), make your own equally effective cleanser using ingredients you probably already have in the kitchen.

What You’ll Need:


  1. Lightly spray your brushes with the olive oil cooking spray and then let them sit for 20 minutes.
  2. Plug your sink up and then fill it up with warm water and a couple squirts of liquid dishwashing soap.
  3. One brush at a time, put a drop of the dishwashing soap on the bristles and then dip the brush into the warm soapy water. Gently rub the bristles until all the makeup, oil, and other debris is removed.
  4. Drain your sink. Then one brush at a time, put each brush under warm running water until the water streaming from the brush looks clear.
  5. Squeeze out any excess water from the brush, reshape the brush back to its original shape, and lay it flat on a clean, old washcloth or paper towel. Let your brushes completely air dry before you use them again.

Wash Your Hands

Always wash your hands with antibacterial soap prior to applying makeup. If you’re applying your makeup on the go, use hand sanitizer first.

Keep Your Makeup off the Bathroom Counter

Your bathroom counter is fully of germs and bacteria. As such, don’t let your makeup and brushes touch the counter. Rest them on a folded washcloth or paper towel instead.

Throw Away Expired Makeup

Unlike that carton of milk in your fridge, makeup is not required by law to have its expiration date posted on the label. However, to keep germs at bay, you should toss your makeup products according to this expiration schedule: mascara (2-3 months), lipstick and lip gloss (1 year), eyeliner (3 months), eye shadow (3 months), powder (1.5 years), foundation (6-12 months), liquid concealer (1 year), stick concealer (2 years), and blush (6-12 months). By the way, if you use MAC cosmetics, you can return your MAC makeup containers through the Back to MAC Program. By returning six MAC primary packaging containers to a MAC counter or MAC Cosmetics online, you'll receive a free MAC lipstick of your choice.

Store Your Makeup in a Cool, Dry Place

Since humidity and heat promote microbial growth and break down bacteria-fighting preservatives in makeup, never store your makeup in your bathroom, in your car’s glove compartment, or on a counter that’s in the direct sunlight. Instead, store your makeup in a cool (75°F or less is ideal), dry place like in a makeup bag in a cabinet located outside your bathroom.

Never Share Makeup

While it can be tempting to raid your sister’s or best friend’s makeup bag, remember that sharing makeup means sharing germs. Let’s put it his way: you wouldn’t use your friend’s toothbrush or contact lenses, so why would you use her lipstick or eyeliner?

Don’t Use Your Makeup in Unintended Ways

Don’t use your eyeliner as lip liner or your lip liner as eyeliner, since this can introduce eye bacteria to your mouth or mouth bacteria to your eyes. Likewise, don’t use your lip stain pot as creme blush or your champagne eye shadow as highlighter on your cheekbones or your eyeliner brush as a lipstick brush.

Be Wary of the Sample Counter

If you need to “try before you buy” at the makeup counter, make sure to use single-use testers, disposable applicators, and clean cotton balls and swabs to apply makeup testers. If possible, test the makeup on your wrist or back of your hand instead of your face. If you do test makeup on your face, make sure to wash your face right after trying it.

How to Clean Makeup Brushes and Other Tips for Keeping Makeup Germ-Free