It is now more than ever where we have all had to learn the real meaning of keeping things sanitary. I bet as much as we think we are quite clean and have a great outlook to keeping our home, belongings and person sanitised, there is always a lot more we can do to ensure the things we own are clean and clear of bacteria or any other harmful things that may lurk on or beneath surfaces.
But where we may be in a routine of washing our hands regularly, throwing worn clothes in the laundry basket and wiping down surfaces in the kitchen, we tend to forget about the smaller things: Makeup and makeup brushes. In fact, there could be more bacteria being harboured in one makeup brush than there could be on the kitchen table, so why would we even consider using it to apply makeup to our faces?
Don’t worry, if you are in the crowd that has overlooked this aspect of sanitising so far, you are one of many. Days get busy, nights get long, work can get stressful and so the last thing you want to think about on a Friday evening as the weekend draws in is cleaning those makeup brushes. But with the way the world is turning at the moment, it may be finally time to have a good look at your makeup kit, see what needs to go, what needs to be cleaned and get your makeup station crystal clear and organised in a way that will be easy to upkeep going forward.
To Keep or Not to Keep
So, lets start by emptying everything out and having a look at what you have in front of you. If we’re really going for the fresh start, it may be time to let go of some of the trusty tools and makeup that have served us well for some time.
All makeup has a “use by date” of sorts, called PAO or period after opening and it is important to know where to find it so you aren’t using old makeup that could prove harmful to your face in the long run. The symbol for each PAO is represented as an open jar with a number next to it followed by the letter M. The M stands for Months so if it says 6M and you opened the product 6 months ago, it is time to throw it out.
Makeup can be quite costly, we all know that, but the products we buy come in containers of a smaller size to prevent unnecessary waste, so you have the chance to use it all within the PAO. A litre of foundation may sound convenient, but there is no way you would get through it all personally within its life, so it works out better to be in a smaller container. Plus, the added benefits that makeup comes in small portions so you can always fit it in your hand luggage when flying is always a bonus for me!
You can see when a foundation is on the last road to expiry by its consistency, colour and even smell. It tends to separate in the jar and causes uneven textures and tones on the skin if applied and starts to develop a smell that is far from the fresh aromas from when you just opened it. If this is your foundation, I’m afraid it is time to throw it out and go grab yourself a fresh bottle as soon as possible.
To keep your foundation smooth and creamy for the length of its lifespan, keep it in a cool place where it won’t get hit by direct sunlight and always give it a good shake before you use it. When using brushes and sponges, keep them clean too before letting them make contact with the foundation to ensure bacteria stays well out of the way.
Powder, Blush and Bronzer – Because powder doesn’t contain water and is dry it is an easy misconception that it doesn’t expire. But if you check the bottom of your container you will see the trusty PAO symbol and usually a 12 -18-month expiry on it. Powder doesn’t act the same way as foundation, but it just becomes more difficult to use and you will end up with a texture and tone that doesn’t reflect the fresh-faced look you got when you first opened it and started using it.
Think about it, with a pressed powder the brush collects the top layer, then makes contact with the skin that contains many natural oils or oils from creams and foundations, then goes back into the powder. After some time, the powder gets a dull, oily finish to the to layer and almost becomes impenetrable, rendering the powder almost useless going forward. As bacteria can live on this top layer, it can get transferred to your cheeks and cause break outs and irritation so it is important to keep those brushes clean and throw away any old powders that you were holding onto for a later date. Your cheeks deserve to look and feel great anyway so it should be a no-brainer.
Mascara – This one should be easy enough, especially if you are a loyal follower of one particular brand and product, you will know the signs of when it is on its way out and will be happy to buy a new tube. But if you are like me and get frustrated easily with your mascara you tend to buy a few different ones for different occasions and then forget you have three extra tubes hiding in your makeup kit. Only to pull on out 6 months later and remember it was great for lengthening but not so good with volumizing, but today you feel like having longer eyelashes, so you give it a try. (Very specific, I know, but this is my unfortunate mascara cycle.)
So you open the tube and expect to see a nice liquid-like, jet-black smooth bit of mascara attached to the wand but instead it is full of goop and a consistency that would clearly cake your lashes together and dry them out. This is the reality of mascara that has been open for some time. In fact, it really starts deteriorating the moment it has been opened. Mascara just doesn’t last exceptionally long, and it shouldn’t either. 3 to 6 months is about the maximum length you should hold on to mascara and that is when it has been used properly on clean eyelashes and kept in a cool environment.
Mascara develops a funky smell after a while and if you find your tube has succumbed to the effects of time then it is a clear sign that it needs to be thrown out. Bacteria easily hides in the bristles on your wand and can transfer back and forth to your eyelashes which can result in a nasty infection. I know that going forward I will definitely be buying one tube of mascara and sticking to it until it’s time to buy a new one. My hoarding days are over!
Eyeliner – Depending on which sort of eyeliner you choose you could have something that will last you 3 months or 3 years. Pencil eyeliners tend to last longer as they can be sharpened which removes the bacteria hiding in the tip and liquid eyeliners won’t last as long due to the fact they can be a playground for bacteria.
Treat liquid eyeliner the same way you would treat your mascara and throw it away when it changes texture. If it develops a smell then it has past its use by date and needs to be binned. Another key thing to mention is sharing makeup, especially eye makeup, which I know not many people do, but sometimes you can forget to bring your own and be tempted by someone else’s pot. Even if you use your own brush, you are dipping it into something that has been used by someone else.
Lipstick – A tricky one as it tends to last longer than some other makeup, and if it has been kept in cool conditions and retains its shape it can look good as new even after a couple of years since it was opened. But it can still harbour bacteria, so it is important to get rid of old lipstick, even if it has been a firm favourite in your makeup kit for some time.
Keep your lipsticks as clean as possible by applying to cleansed lips and not directly after eating food. If using a brush to apply it, be sure to keep it clean and don’t share with anyone else. Lips are already delicate features and don’t need the added stress of a potential infection, even in the name of beauty!
Makeup Brushes – The biggie when it comes to a clear out of your makeup kit and keeping your makeup station sanitary is having clean brushes. Some brushes last years with good hygiene and cleansing but they too can expire.
There are plenty of products available to clean brushes but a lot of makeup artists swear by good old water and a gentle soap to rinse them off, so if you aren’t able to get your hands on a fancy cleaning product there isn’t much room for excuses when it comes to cleaning brushes. Also, by not washing them you can ruin the bristles and your brushes will end up having a shorter lifespan, which isn’t good if you have spent a fair penny on a new set.
Keeping your Kit Clean
Starting fresh with your makeup and brushes doesn’t just finish there when it comes to sanitising your makeup. Your tweezers and eyelash curlers also count as part of the kit as they are tools that come into contact with your eyebrows and eyelashes.
Natural oils can break things down, cause bacteria to cling on and damage your tools overall so it is important to keep those things clean too. Remember if they stop working they way they once did, like tweezers don’t pull hairs easily, or eyelash curlers lose their grip pads, then it is time to throw them away and invest in some new ones.
Always keep your face clean at the end of each day, leaving makeup on overnight can be a problem in itself and remember to clean down any surfaces your makeup and brushes may come into contact with. If you have a dressing table, always sanitise the area before laying things down, especially if you have gone to the effort of cleaning your brushes, as there could be unseen bacteria waiting to come into contact.
It may sound like a lot of work, but in the long run, having a clean makeup kit and a sanitised makeup station will mean your makeup will last as long as possible and you will save yourself tonnes of money in wasted products. Happy Sanitising!