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How hygienic is your makeup routine?

Ever dropped a slice of toast and thanked your lucky stars it landed butter-side up? You may have sighed with relief, applied the out-dated Three Second Rule and chanced a nibble. When it comes to hygiene and your makeup routine, though, you can’t take chances. If you view the two as separate entities, it’s important to recalibrate your brain and acknowledge they are intrinsically different sides of the same coin.

Why? Well, hygiene maintains your overall well-being while cosmetics enhance your appearance. There is zero point reaching for ancient mascara because you can’t find your brand spanking new one if you are going to wake up with a pink eye or a stye. Let's take a closer look at the importance of cleanliness when using makeup products - and help you decide just how hygienic your makeup routine is. 

Used makeup remover pad and liquid makeup bottle left open

Makeup routine: why hygiene should be the bedrock

Maintaining good hygiene is essential for both physical and mental health. It involves practices that keep our skin clean and free from germs, bacteria and fungi. It's crucial for the following reasons...

Keeping everything spotless prevents the spread of disease and reduces the chance of skin irritation. 

Regular handwashing is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of germs that cause common illnesses and even serious infections. You should always wash your hands before touching your face or dipping a finger into a palette or pot. As well as keeping your makeup products germ-free, you won’t be transferring any breakout-causing nasties to your skin. Handwashing prevents cross contamination.

You should also never share cosmetics with anyone else - no matter how tempting. If you’re organising a girls’ night in, pamper evening or plan to get ready for a night out with your besties, agree in advance that everyone brings their own products. 

Avoid store sample products and testers like the plague. It’s better to take a chance with a purchase than expose yourself to potentially thousands of harmful bacteria. Do you really want to use makeup already tested by people who NEVER wash their hands, not even after going to the loo or picking their nose? While you may be itching to see if the latest shade of cream blush does your complexion any favours, you could end up itching for an entirely different reason. 

Research has shown that store sample applicators can harbour up to 5,000 bacteria in a space of just one square centimetre.* Let that sink in. 

Bacteria that can be found on makeup applicators and hands
Bacteria might look pretty under a microscope but it can leave you with far from attractive skin irritation, if you don't pay attention to hygiene when using makeup

Good hygiene practices promote healthy skin. So, you shouldn’t equate cleanliness to merely the application stage of your makeup routine. Removing cosmetics is just as important. It prevents clogged pores and breakouts, and it also powers up the effectiveness of your skincare products too. Think of effective cleansing as the process that allows the skin to breathe properly, promoting cell turnover and a healthy glow.

Feeling clean and fresh is a natural confidence booster. It can empower you and enhance how makeup sits on the skin. Knowing that you are following hygienic practices will lift your self-esteem even further. 

Simple ways to maintain hygiene when using makeup

Pay attention to product use-by dates. If you aren’t sure how long each product type can be used once they have been opened, here’s a comprehensive guide. Regularly declutter and throw away expired makeup. Pay particular attention to eye and lip products. As a rule, mascara should be replaced every three months. If you are undergoing any type of systemic treatment or are recovering from a serious illness, start afresh. It’s not worth risking your health for a few hours of looking good. 

Wash your hands before applying makeup. Use soap and warm water. Dry your hands on a clean towel or, if time permits, allow to air dry. 

Makeup brushes and applicators are magnets for germs. Get into the habit of cleaning them. Regularly wash and quick-dry to prevent the transfer of bacteria. If it’s a job you keep putting off, take a look at some of the tools available to make the task easier. Bin anything that can’t be thoroughly cleaned and always store brushes and beauty blenders in a dust-free environment. Don’t overlook powder puffs and sponge applicators on tubed products like blusher and bronzer. 

Dirty makeup brushes against a yellow background and a makeup cleaning pot
Makeup brushes are only safe to use if they are clean. How clean are your brushes?

Discard any products that have come into contact with the floor - no matter how annoying. Butter fingers are something that can happen to us all! I recently let my favourite gel moisturiser slip out of feeble hands and land upside down on the carpet between the bed and a cabinet. While my other half rushed to scoop the cream back into the pot (he had purchased it for me at Christmas), the thought of gritty bits and hairs engulfed my mind. Eww! Then the word ‘bacteria’ floated into the equation and, the moment his back was turned, I made a hasty trip downstairs to the trash. A quick online reorder ensured he was none the wiser. 

Remove all traces of makeup at the end of the day. Don’t reuse cotton pads and ensure face cloths are clean. If you use cleansing tools, like brushes or scrubbers, thoroughly wash them after each use and keep them in a safe place, preferably out of the bathroom.

Ensure product lids are properly secure. This is especially important when it comes to liquid and cream cosmetics. As well as keeping germs out, it will also prevent accidental spills. 

When it comes to palettes, throw away anything with crumbled pans. Only touch pigments with clean fingers. If you’ve been less than careful in the past, replace the products you can’t live without. 

Broken makeup in a palette
There's only one place for shattered makeup - the bin!

Too much faff? Here’s why makeup matters

Your makeup routine can encompass a wide range of products. Each one is designed to enhance facial features, improve skin tone and create a desired look. Products can be used subtly to accentuate natural beauty or more dramatically for stand-out looks. 

I prefer to think of makeup as delivering on three points:

It accentuates features: Makeup can be used to define eyes, highlight cheekbones and add colour to lips. For me, this creates a more balanced, not to mention fashionable, appearance.

It camouflages imperfections: And, boy, have I got plenty of those! Makeup offers solutions for various skin concerns like blemishes, dark circles and uneven skin tone. Using products strategically can help camouflage imperfections and even out the complexion.

It helps us express our individuality: Cosmetics are designed for creative expression. From bold swipes of colour to smokey eyes, makeup can be a way to reflect personal style and mood. We can switch it up or down, depending on either.

Spilled makeup primer
Never be tempted to scoop spilled products back into bottles or pots. Always keep lids securely closed

The synergy of hygiene and cosmetics

The true magic happens when hygiene and makeup are paired together. Here's how this powerful duo achieves synergy:

  • Prepares the canvas: Just like a painter needs a clean canvas, good hygiene practices prepare the skin for makeup application. A clean and well-hydrated face allows makeup to go on smoother, last longer and blend more seamlessly.

  • Prevents breakouts: Dirty makeup brushes and applicators harbour bacteria that can clog pores and lead to breakouts. By maintaining good hygiene practices for makeup tools and regularly cleansing the skin, the risk of irritation is minimised.

  • Maximises results: When the skin is clean and healthy, it can better absorb the benefits of makeup products. Moisturisers penetrate deeper, and makeup pigments adhere better, resulting in a flawless finish that lasts.

The impact of hygiene and cosmetics goes beyond just physical appearance. 

Taking care of yourself through hygiene and self-care rituals can have a positive impact on mental health. It promotes self-love and a sense of control, leading to reduced stress and improved emotional well-being.

Not only that, maintaining good hygiene is a basic social courtesy. It shows respect for others and creates a more pleasant environment for everyone.

While both hygiene and cosmetics are important, it's crucial to find the right balance. Over-washing the face can strip the skin of its natural oils, leading to dryness. Similarly, using excessive makeup can clog pores and irritate the skin. Here are some tips:

  • Focus on gentle cleansing and use products suitable for your skin type.

  • Clean makeup brushes and applicators regularly to prevent bacteria buildup.

  • Use makeup sparingly and opt for natural, breathable formulas.

  • Embrace your natural beauty and use cosmetics to enhance, not completely cover up.

The makeup routine with an holistic approach to well-being

Hygiene and cosmetics work hand-in-hand to create a healthy and confident you. By prioritising good hygiene practices and using cosmetics mindfully, you invest in your overall well-being. Remember, beauty is more than just skin deep. A healthy foundation sets the stage for inner and outer radiance.


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