While the contents of the average woman’s makeup bag might be worth a lot (according to one study, nearly £200) those little bags of beauty are harbouring more than just expensive products. According to research, the average makeup bag contains six different kinds of bacteria, including the strains that cause meningitis and septicaemia. So if you’ve never thought about the cleanliness of the products you rub all over your face each morning, here’s what you need to know to keep your beauty routine as healthy and germ-free as possible…
1. DO cleanse your brushes
In a poll conducted by Anisa International, 61% of women who use makeup brushes admitted to cleaning them less than once a month, while 22% said they never cleaned them. Brushes collect oil, dead skin cells and general dirt…then they spread it around your face! That’s why Dermatologist Danielle Taylor, of Skindustry, says it’s vital that we make cleaning our brushes a habit:
“Cleanse make up brushes and applicators daily as well washing hands prior to applying skincare products to reduce the amount of bacteria. Furthermore, try not to apply make up with fingers as this will spread the bacteria faster, and keep them away from the bottle necks of foundations too.”
There are tonnes of products designed specifically for cleaning makeup brushes, but many experts swear by baby shampoo. If you’re worried about the amount of ‘dry time’ a daily cleanse would require, try to at least give your brushes a wipe down with a clean cloth every time you use them, but never let it go more than a couple of weeks without a deep cleanse.
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2. DO cleanse to protect
Starting your day with a cleansing routine is important both for keeping your skin clean and also keeping it protected. Danielle says:
“Never use hot water as this can cause unnecessary heat in the skin, causing flushing and even broken capillaries. Use warm water, and if you use a foaming cleanser make sure you foam it up thoroughly between cleansed hands and massage it in to the skin, finish with applying cold water in order to close the pores. Cleansing twice will ensure dirt and impurities are removed from the skin as well as preventing dead cell formation.”
Once you’re done, apply moisturiser to maintain hydration and provide anti-oxidants to help combat free radicals. And of course, SPF.
“Finish with applying sun protection, which is an essential UV anti-oxidant. Broad spectrum SPF’s are proven to protect the skin against daily environmental elements and prevent signs of ageing.”
3. DON’T use out of date products
We’ve all got products that seemingly go on and on forever, yet makeup that’s past its expiry date can wreak havoc on your skin. Forking out for a new foundation while you’ve still got some left may seem ridiculous, but Danielle says your complexion will thank you in the long run.
“Out-of-date makeup isn’t as efficient as the molecules can adapt causing your skin to react differently to them, with the possibility of causing redness, irritation, allergic reactions, blocked pores, itching and possibly infections. Makeup products may get contaminated with yeast, fungal and bacteria which cause various infections.”
In order to check whether makeup has expired, look at whether the colour, texture or smell of the product has changed, and importantly how the product feels on the skin. Mascaras are the most important to update, with a shelf life of just 3 months. Foundation or powder that you’ve had for more than a year should be chucked, along with 18-month-old lipsticks and 24-month-old eye shadows.
4. DO keep an eye on which remover you’re using
It’s tricky to find a makeup remover that’s a good all-rounder, says Danielle.
“Oil based removers are great for getting rid of stubborn eye makeup and for moisturising dry eye lids, but over-use can irritate the sensitive skin around the eye and may cause lashes to fall out. However, while water based removers are a lot gentler on the eye area, they struggle to remove very heavy makeup, and rubbing vigorously can damage the fine skin around the eyes causing mild trauma and fine lines and wrinkles to occur.”
You may have to resign yourself to buying separate removers for your face and eyes in order to avoid any stinging or skin imbalances. If you have sensitive skin, then try to stay clear of eye makeup removers and stick to cleansing the skin with a gentle cleanser instead. Use a generous amount and this should be able to remove even stubborn make up with warm (never hot) water.
5. DON’T use face wipes
They’re easy-to-use and cheap, but according to Danielle, they don’t work well at cleansing the skin, and are packed with damaging chemicals:
“NEVER use face wipes. They don’t thoroughly clean the skin, and are soaked in high concentrates of alcohol which is very drying and damaging. These harsh chemicals are also rubbed vigorously into the skin causing irritation and premature aging – particularly around our very delicate eye area! Moist cloths packed on top of each other are also a breeding ground for bacteria!”
6. DO look after your lashes
You’re eyes are extremely sensitive, so it’s important to treat them well. There are all sorts of products out there that can harm you when used incorrectly. One of the biggest villains of the makeup world is eyelash curlers, but do they deserve their bad press? Only if you don’t use them correctly and with caution, according to Danielle.
“If you want to curl your lashes it is important to use a lash serum as this will condition your lashes with all the vitamins they need to stay healthy. Always curl lashes before applying mascara because if you do it after the mascara will stick to the curler, and may result in some of your lashes being torn out!”
False eyelashes can also cause many a problem for the inexperienced user, especially when it comes to glue-ing them into place. Lindsey Kane, Makeup artist and Director of Lash Unlimited, says:
“Many people are allergic to latex so it is important to use a latex-free eyelash adhesive to steer-clear of any irritation. Lash Unlimited are in the process of having a long lasting, waterproof, latex-free eyelash adhesive created for all the lash lovers with sensitive eyes. It is ok to reuse false eyelashes, as long as the glue is removed from the strip and use an antibacterial wipe to remove any germs and place in a box for the next use.”
False lashes can generally be used an average of 4-6 times before they need replacing, so long as they are kept in clean. Lindsey recommends applying mascara as normal and then placing false lashes on top for a fuller look.
7. DON’T share your makeup
Sharing is a surefire way to spread break-outs, bacteria and infections. This is particularly true of eye makeup, says Lindsey:
“It is never ok to use anyone else’s eye makeup. You do not know if they have or just had an eye infection and it could be contagious. Mascara and eyeliner carry a lot of bacteria because of the area on which they are used, and this is why you should change mascara and eyeliner regularly. As a makeup artist it is vital to clean and sterilise my products and brushes to eliminate any risk from client to client.”
8. DO be careful when removing waterproof mascara
Waterproof mascara is a wonderful invention, keeping us looking our best through rain, sweat and tears. However, because stubborn-ness is in its very nature, Danielle insists that, if you do go waterproof, extra care is vital when removing waterproof eye makeup. Be sure not to rub and pull at your lashes as this will make them fall out. But overall, she says it’s best to steer clear:
“The ingredients that make up waterproof mascara are more drying to eyelashes than normal mascara, so unless you have severe allergies, which cause your eyes to run every day try to stick to using it only when you really need to.”
Lindsey suggests using a little bit of coconut, almond or olive oil to remove the most stubborn mascara.
“This helps nourish the lashes naturally. I enjoy using natural products, as I know that there are no chemicals that are going to cause any allergies or irritations.”
9. DON’T sleep with your makeup on
It’s tempting, but the more often you leave makeup on whilst sleeping, the morelong-term damage it does, including blocked pores, repetitive break-outs and even premature ageing, says Danielle.
“The skin cannot function as efficiently and may struggle to renew and repair itself. Furthermore, as we generally use around 5 or more products on our skin daily, we are exposed to various amounts of bacteria and toxins within these products, especially around the delicate eye area as it is around 2mm thick, leaving it very sensitive and vulnerable to make up being left on.”