It’s important to clean your makeup products, brushes, and accessories monthly.

It’s especially important during cold and flu season, because the germs can live on your items for days. If you’re a makeup sharer, this can become an even bigger problem. If you have your makeup applied on public counters in a department store, the danger of germ contamination can run rampant as well. So, now that you know, de-germ your makeup and accessories right away. You’ll breathe easier knowing your products are safe.

Wash your makeup brushes

Many people rarely wash their makeup brushes, even if their skin is consistently breaking out. Because oil and bacteria can get caught in the bristles and clog pores, they need to be cleaned  to prevent breakouts and general irritation.

Fill a glass with warm water and add one tablespoon of a gentle, clarifying shampoo or gel cleanser, then swish brushes in the glass to create a lather. Avoid harsh detergents that can dry out the bristles. Rinse well and use a comb to detangle the bristles to get them back into their original shape. Let brushes dry out flat on a paper towel or hanging with bristles down, preferably in the sun, which can help destroy bacteria and cut drying time.

Tip:  it’s a solid rule in art school to never let your brushes dry standing up. The water drifting into the barrel will loosen the glue and eventually your expensive brush will plop out of the handle. Best if they’re flat to let them dry on their side or, if a fluffy one, to hang upside down for a full night.

Lipstick

First and foremost, try to buy lipstick in metal containers because metal won’t retain germs as much as plastic. Cleaning your lipstick is a two-step process and should be followed every two weeks, or at least once a month. Begin with 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, just the top layer.

Next, pour some rubbing alcohol or vodka into a small dish and submerge your exposed lipstick into the solution for at least thirty seconds. Allow it to air dry, or gently wipe dry with a clean tissue.

Pencils

From lip liner to eyeliner to brow pencil, etc., the simplest way to keep pencils clean is to sharpen them before each use. You don’t have to remove that many layers, just a couple of quick twists will do. If your pencils are retractable, as with lipstick cleaning, pour some rubbing alcohol or vodka into a small container and then dip the tip of the pencil into the solution for thirty seconds. Finally, air dry or gently wipe dry with a clean tissue.

Makeup Products You Can’t Clean

There are certain products you can’t clean. These should be thrown out after long use or if you end up with an infection.

  • Mascara: This is the most important product not to assume you can clean. 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, so just let it go.
  • Lip Gloss: In a tube, this 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 be tossed if you have an infection.
  • Disposable Makeup Sponges: They’re just that – disposable. They’re not meant to be washed and reused for months at a time. If you use sponge applicators and are experiencing more breakouts than normal, toss them immediately.
  • Nail Polish: This cannot be cleaned. 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 bottle than take the risk of getting a nail infection.