What germs are lurking in your makeup brushes?

Skin Care

by Baylor Scott & White Health

Sep 5, 2019

Have you ever thought about what might be living on your skin? You may have been told to regularly clean your makeup brushes and wondered why.

The answer? Bacteria.

The nasty truth is that bacteria are everywhere. And the bacteria found in everyday items, such as makeup products, are easily transferred onto your skin.

For example, several common types of bacteria, such as streptococcus and staphylococcus, are found on the surface of your skin. Bacteria like E. coli and pseudomonas are found in other places but can unfortunately still make their way onto your skin.

E. coli is a common bacterium found in the human digestive tract, and Pseudomonas can be found in contaminated soil, water and hot tubs. It’s easy for these bacteria to be transferred to makeup products, bags and brushes.

Without taking the proper steps to clean items, these harmful bacteria can cause infections on your skin and in your eyes — think pink eye, acne, sties or even allergic reactions. Yikes.

How to keep your makeup bag and brushes clean.

Fortunately, keeping up a cleaning routine and using good makeup hygiene can go a long way in protecting your skin from these hidden germs.

Now, pull out your makeup bag and let’s get started.

Check the expiration date.

For certain products (such as eyeliner, foundation, etc.), expiration dates matter. Make sure you are not putting anything that has expired on your skin. You can find this information using our trusty friend, the internet, but ask a dermatologist if you have specific concerns.

Avoid sharing makeup.

Never share products or brushes with other people, especially since you don’t know their skin condition.

Related: 5 golden rules for taking care of your skin.

Be careful testing products in stores.

Use caution when applying store tester samples, as these are bacterial cesspools! Think about it — you have no idea where other hands have been.

Store makeup safely.

Keep your makeup tucked away under a sink and away from the toilet, as this is how bacteria such as E.Coli travel.

Clean weekly.

Clean makeup brushes weekly by simply using mild dish soap. To clean the makeup bag, remove everything out of the bag and lightly scrub with a diluted bleach solution.

Wash your hands.

Finally, and most importantly, always make sure to wash your hands. Many people use their hands to apply makeup, so it’s important that you have clean hands before and after applying makeup. (Oh, and after you use the restroom too.)

There are some signs and symptoms of bacterial infection to watch for, such as redness, warmth, tenderness and/or puss on your face, eyes, mouth or nose. Also, pay close attention if you develop a fever. If you experience these symptoms, talk to your doctor.

Related: The ABCs of proper handwashing.

How you care for your skin today determines your skin health tomorrow. Find a dermatologist near you to clear up all your skincare questions.

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