How to Clean Your Makeup and Makeup Accessories

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Dirt and bacteria find their way into your makeup every day. Although the jar indicator on a product tells us when to throw it out, you should know how to properly clean your different kinds of makeup, brushes and other accessories.

Cleaning Lipstick

First and foremost, try to buy lipstick in metal containers—they don’t retain germs as much as plastic does. As far as cleaning your lipstick, it’s a two-step method and should be followed every couple weeks, or at least once a month. First, grab a Q-tip, hold it at an angle, slightly twist up your lipstick, and then scrape the top of the lipstick off. You don’t have to remove a large chunk, but instead, remove the top layer of the lipstick. Second, pour some rubbing alcohol or vodka into a small dish and submerge your exposed lipstick into the solution for at least 30-seconds. Afterward, you can allow it to air dry, or gently wipe dry with a clean tissue. This also keeps the formula at its most potent, because if there's anything stuck in it this will remove it.


This includes any type of makeup pencil from lip liner to eyeliner, brow pencil, etc. The simplest way to keep pencils clean is just to sharpen them before each use. You don’t have to remove that many layers, in fact, just a couple quick twists will do. If your pencils are retractable instead of ones that sharpen, then pour some rubbing alcohol or vodka into a small container then dip the tip of the pencil into the solution for 30-seconds. Finally, air dry or gently wipe it dry with a clean tissue.


If you use a liquid foundation in an open bottle that requires the use of your fingertip, then you have to pour out the very top portion of the foundation in order to clean it. This doesn’t always remove all germs, because it's important to shake your foundation. If you must use a foundation bottle like this, then try to use Q-tips to dip into the bottle instead of your fingers. Just remember to use a clean one with each dip.

Eyeshadow, Blush, Bronzer and Powder

Cake makeup products such as eyeshadow and blush are actually fairly easy to clean. Just grab a butter knife and scrape the top of the product into the trash can. That's it. Be careful, though, not to press down hard, or you’ll break your product into pieces. This is also a good method for if you use a powder often, and you form a compacted shiny area on the product. Unfortunately, that area is caused d by oil from your skin. Using brushes instead of foam applicators is better, since you can clean your brush after each use.

Makeup Bags and Cases

Bags and cases that we store our makeup in can get very dirty quickly. At least twice a month, or at least monthly, you should remove all products from your bag or case and give it a good cleaning. The best and quickest way to do this is with antibacterial wipes. Simply wipe the inside of the bag or case until any makeup residue is gone. Do not wipe the outside of your bag or case with antibacterial wipes unless you know that it will not damage the finish. If you need to wipe down the outside, then use a baby wipe or damp cloth.

If you feel that your makeup bag or case is still loaded with germs after wiping them down then simply place them in the freezer overnight. The extreme cold will destroy any germs left behind, even after using antibacterial wipes.

Makeup Brushes

Brushes may seem difficult to clean, but it’s actually very easy. In between washing your makeup brushes you can spray them with a solution of one part water to nine parts vodka or rubbing alcohol. You can also just use a brush cleaner. Spray the solution on a dry cloth and then wipe your brush across it, quickly and easily removing makeup from the surface of the bristles. Do not press down hard, do not submerge your brushes in water. That's how you break your brushes, or at least make them come apart. It’s a good idea to wash brushes after each use, and then follow it up with a regimen for washing your makeup brushes every two weeks to a month.

Makeup Products You Can't Clean

There are certain products you can’t clean, and should be thrown out after using it for so long, because you will end up with an infection. The most important product not to clean is mascara. You may think you can clean the wand in order to keep the mascara longer, but germs still get into the product with each use. Besides, mascara isn’t manufactured to last for years—just let it go. Lip gloss in a tube is easier to clean because you can wipe down the tip, but sponge applicators and pan lip gloss can’t really be saved, and should also be tossed if you have an infection. Otherwise, if it smells normal you may be able to keep it for a year or two.

Disposable makeup sponges are just that; disposable. They are not meant to be washed and reused for months at a time. If you find that you’re getting more breakouts than normal, and you use sponge applicators, then toss them ASAP. Also, nail polish really can’t be cleaned. So if you have a fungal infection on your nails, or you let a friend use your favorite nail polish and they have an infection, simply bite the bullet and chuck it. It’s better to buy a new one than take the risk of getting a nail infection.

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