PDP Exclusives by Rebecca

Monday, January 30, 2012

Beauty Buzz: How to sanitize your makeup!

Countless times I've heard a multitude of people stress the importance of cleaning their makeup brushes (and they are right, ya know?!) however I rarely overhear anyone talk about cleaning their actual makeup. Since we are currently stuck in the middle of cold and flu season I thought this would be the perfect "how to" blog to post so you can sanitize your makeup at home, thus making your products last longer.

Before we get into the actual "how to" portion, let's talk about some things you can do to further avoid cross-contamination in your makeup area.
  • Keep your makeup  closed and properly stored. The longer your makeup containers are left open, the longer bacteria has a chance to contaminate these items. Also, if you have children or pets in your home then be sure to keep your makeup collection behind closed doors or in proper storage units so they don't confuse your precious' as toys. 
  • Keep your work area clean. This should go without saying, really. I keep a container of disinfecting wipes near my vanity and always wipe it down before and after makeup application. I also keep the wipes out to clean the outside of my makeup containers and brush handles as I use them. This may seem a little O.C.D. to some however you have to keep in mind that you are touching these items, possibly touching other things (i.e. kids, phones, door handles, pets, etc.) in between then going back to the products. This is something that is especially important to do if you are sick or are letting others handle your products as well.
    Please note: you should never clean your actual makeup with wipes (just their containers). While disinfectant wipes contain a substantial amount of cleansers that would be effective in sanitizing your items, they are also loaded with detergents and harsher ingredients that are can be harmful if used on the body.

  • Keep your hands clean. Perhaps it's my extensive background in the food industry or just one of my many quirks, but I have a weird obsession with hand sanitizer (don't be surprised if you see me on that "My strange Addiction" show sometime soon).  I make it a point to wash, dry and sanitize my hands before and after all makeup sessions... and during if I just so happen to pause to do some of that touching-thing we just talked about.

  • Avoid the "double dip". I know, I know. It sounds close to impossible however it is not completely unavoidable. A good way to do this would be to use a makeup palette and spatula (make sure those are cleaned between each use as well) for loose powders, gel/cream products, and anything else that may be easily separated from it's container before application.. I'm going to be realistic and acknowledge the fact that "double dipping" will happen in every day makeup application. Just keep it in the front of your mind when applying and sanitize regularly.
You only need a few items to sanitize your makeup, most of which you probably have in your home. Those items are: paper towels, a cup, a small spray bottle, and isopropyl alcohol. The FDA states that a volume of 70% or greater of alcohol is all that is needed to kill 99.99% of bacteria safely and effectively. I prefer to use 91% alcohol as it evaporates faster (yes, only slightly but it just makes me feel better, lol) but, of course, the preference is yours.  I usually keep the spray bottle of alcohol close to my vanity so I can spritz my cosmetics whenever I see fit. 

Now, onto the good stuff! Below is a list of products and how you can safely sanitize them, as well as some tips on how to make them last longer. Please keep in mind that you are using rubbing alcohol on these items therefore you must allot enough time for them to dry before applying them. I personally make it a habit of sanitizing either right before bed or right after makeup application.
  • Lipstick. Lipstick is one of the easiest items to sanitize.Using the paper towel, gently wipe the tip of the lip stick getting rid of any residue that may sit on top. Fully extend the lipstick and dunk into a cup of rubbing alcohol. At this point you can set the lip stick aside to dry while you clean the cap.

  • Pressed Powders. This includes eyeshadow, face powder, blushes, bronzers, etc. Using a paper towel, lightly pat the top layer of your pressed powders to remove any oils that may have come off from your fingers. (tip: you should always avoid putting your fingers in your makeup, especially pressed powders. Oil from your hands could potentially ruin your pressed products either changing their texture or rendering them useless all together). Spritz the top of your powders with the spray bottle of alcohol and set aside to dry.

  • Pencil Liners. During this process I prefer to clean the entire pencil. Spritz the outside of the pencil and the top and wipe with a paper towel. Next, spritz your pencil sharpener with the alcohol. Sharpen and spritz (or dunk) the tip of the freshly sharpened pencil and set aside to dry. Remember, if it has a cap, sanitize that as well.

  • Cream/Gel Products. These items are a bit trickier. It's always best of these products have a smooth surface to work with (like when they are brand new) however they usually have divots in them from brushes and spatulas. You can still sanitize them using the spritzing method. After doing so, flip the product upside down on a few paper towels and let it dry. This way there won't be any "puddles" of rubbing alcohol in your product.
There are also a handful of beauty items that can not be (or are more difficult to) sanitize. I've listed them below along with some helpful bits of knowledge.
  • Loose Powders. Because these are loose powders I would suggest separating the product from the container before using (i.e. avoid the double dip) because there isn't really a way to go about properly sanitizing these products. Some studies show that you can place loose powders in the freezer overnight and it will kill the bacteria however there is some controversy over this because other scientist are claiming that it would be even more susceptible to germs after reaching room temperature. Regardless of these studies, bacteria is drawn to moisture. Since these products are very dry then I wouldn't worry too much about these as long as they are properly cared for.

  • Wand Applicators. This includes lip gloss, mascaras, concealers, and anything else that comes in a wand applicator. These items are the toughest. You could cut the original wand portions from these items and stick to using disposable however, unless you are makeup artist, this is very wasteful (and we want to love our mother earth, not trash it). The only tip I can give you here, other than being aware of the expiration date, is to never pump your wands. Doing so pushes air into the tube which promotes rapid bacteria growth.

  • Squeeze tube applicators: Notably, these are the most sanitary of applicators however they can still become contaminated if not used properly. Avoid applying product directly to your lips/fingers. Instead, use a clean brush to wipe product from the tip or squeeze onto a palette. During the sanitation process, simply spritz the applicator with alcohol... and don't forget the cap!

I hope some of you find this information helpful. Please let me know if I missed anything and I will do my best to answer all questions below.

Mo is the beauty and brains behind Madd Style Cosmetics. You can shop with her on Artfire, or follow her on Facebook. Her page is ALWAYS full of makeup and beauty inspiration!!  


  1. I just did ALL of this tonight!!!! Thank you Mo, I never thought to sanitize like this!!!!

  2. If alcohol can be used on the regular lipstick, why can't a little alcohol be added to the lip gloss and wand.