How to Sanitize Makeup: The Complete Guide

Updated 05/31/19
Product Disclosure

Getty Images 

We do a pretty good job of keeping our makeup in good shape ( so we'd like to think) but sometimes the unknown around the safety of the products we are using in relation to germs can creep in, leaving us mystified on best practices of how to really keep our makeup clean. Sure, some of the easy rules have stuck with us since high school like to never share our mascara or eyeliners with others, and keep our lipsticks to ourselves, but when it comes to germs, there should be no second guessing on the proper sanitary guidelines. Keep reading for the best ways to sanitize your makeup for the cleanest beauty possible—literally.

First, let's start with the basics. Our makeup that we use every single day should be sanitized every few weeks, especially if we've been traveling or sick. If someone else has used your makeup for whatever reason, like forgetting their own makeup or simply wanting to experiment with your favorite products and test them out, it's best to clean immediately after each use to ensure no germs have spread. This is important, as we all are exposed to different things at different times, and our friends might be getting over a cold or might have encountered some germs that could cause them to get sick.

Let's try to keep things simple: What should really be the focus when wanting to keep our makeup bag clean and sanitary? Dr Robb Akridge, co-founder of Clarisonic and skin expert (along with a PhD in Microbiology) says, "The best practice is to not share your makeup or brushes with anyone else. The process of sanitizing your makeup with alcohol might ruin it if you're not careful (like powder products and eyeshadows) , so the main focus should be on the brushes, sponges, and applicators."

Cleansing and sanitizing makeup brushes and tools is essential to our health and our product's health. Have you ever not washed your makeup brushes for a really long time, only to find they are so filled with old product they just need to be thrown out? Some of you are definitely raising your hands. (Not to mention re-using old, dirty sponges.)

A thorough clean is the best when it comes to our tools, and this cleanser from Beautyblender has a built-in scrubbing mat that helps to move the soap around into the bristles of brush hair and those stubborn marks on sponges for an expert clean.

Beautyblender Blendercleanser Solid Pro $45
Shop

Most makeup brushes are made of synthetic bristles or natural animal hairs and work best when cleaned weekly. This keeps the hair soft and prevents it from getting too built up with product or too stiff, which in return can break your powder products if you're too rough with the brushes when dipping them in compacts. You don't need to clean your brushes or sponges every single day, but once a week is key when you've only used them on yourself.

Akridge also notes, "Keep in mind that sanitizing makeup isn’t a solution for replacing old products, items shouldn’t be used past their expiration date under any circumstances." This means that if the expiration date on your product has passed, you most certainly need to get rid of it. Another way to tell if a product has expired? Wax and liquid products will begin to smell funky, and mascara will get very dry and flake on the skin. That's just a given to toss it in the garbage.

Since our beauty routines consist of powders, foundations, concealers, mascaras, eyeliners, lipsticks (the list goes on, and trust us—there are a lot) what's the best way to practice being sanitary without ruining the products we've invested our precious cash in?

Gabriel De Santino, CEO of Gabriel Cosmetics and makeup artist says, "An excellent way to keep makeup clean is to wash your hands before using a product and toss it out when it expires, but if you want to take it a step further it’s actually pretty simple to sanitize your makeup. All you need is 70% isopropyl alcohol and a spray bottle to put it in, both of which you can get at a drugstore."

Target Isopropyl 70% Alcohol $2
Shop

Lipstick

When sanitizing lipstick, Gabriel recommends simply spraying the exposed lipstick with isopropyl alcohol, and then wiping it clean. You can also spray the bottlenecks of foundation with alcohol, and be sure to sharpen all pencils before using such as lipliners and eyeliners. To clean your eyelash curler, simply wipe off residue with a cotton pad and a small amount of alcohol, letting it completely dry for 24 hours before using it again.

Mascara

Gabriel notes, "When it comes to mascara, I’d recommend throwing it out rather than attempting to sanitize it if you have concerns. The eye area is so delicate and it’s best not to chance it." This helps prohibit any type of infections such as pink eye or reactions to expired ingredients in makeup that can cause itchiness, redness, and swelling. A serious no thank you.

Powders

If for any reason you're worried about germs on your powder products, you should handle with care any time you're wanting to sanitize them. Simply skim the top layer off of the product and then spray lightly with alcohol, letting it air dry.

Liquid/Cream Tubs or Pots

Another way to keep your products clean? Do not, we repeat, do not dip your fingers in them. No matter how clean your hands are, dipping your fingers in liquid and cream products can cause germs to spread like wildfire and mess with the product itself, causing the integrity of the ingredients to change. You always want to use sanitary applicators on your makeup to not cause germs, oil, or dirt to spread.

Related Stories