With the coronavirus pandemic still spreading, many of us feel anxious about everyday items potentially infected with bacteria.
That includes makeup and skincare products, which can contain harmful microbes without proper cleaning.
In the eyes of Michelle Dotdot, a freelance makeup artist, isopropyl alcohol is her best friend.
“You need about 30% of water to destabilize bacteria and allow alcohol to penetrate and destroy any bacteria that’s in there,” Dotdot said. She added that anything over 70% evaporates too fast before the alcohol properly cleans the product.
Many people forget to sanitize a makeup bag and fall short on handling their brushes with care.
“I clean my brushes after every use, especially the ones I use like liquids or creams because that moisture is what’s going to make bacteria grow faster,” Dotdot said. She uses two brush cleaners, one to spot clean in between uses and another to deep clean after finishing a routine.
“Some people can even use a dishwashing liquid or baby shampoo to make sure that the bristles don’t dry out,” Dotdot said.
To clean your brushes, soak them in isopropyl alcohol, then wait for them to dry. Don’t forget to also soak other products, including your tweezers and eyelash curlers, in alcohol.
“If you wash the brushes or the makeup, then stick it in a dirty bag, it defeats the purpose,” Dotdot said.
Beauty blenders can be harder to clean than you think, Dotdot said. She recommends using disposable sponges.
“If you want to take it a step further and place your damp sponge in a bowl of water, then microwave it for a minute or two to kill the bacteria,” Dotdot said.
Unlike disposable sponges or cream products, “your brushes will last as long as you take care of them,” Dotdot said.
Effects on the skin
For liquid or cream formulations, the preservations can break down over time. In some cases, the water and the oil separate in skincare products.
“Too much oil on your skin can be very bad for somebody who has acne-prone skin,” Dotdot said.
Liquid foundations and creams can last six months to one year, Dodot added, with lipsticks up to a year. Drier products such as powders and eyeshadows last up to two years.
“Anything liquid around your eyes like mascara or eyeliner lasts three months,” Dotdot said.
Period after opening
Dotdot stressed that the expiration date and the day you open your makeup product matters to the skin. Makeup artists call these times the “period after opening,” which starts the day you unseal a package.
“I’ll write with a little Sharpie when I open the product so I know how long I’ve been using this product,” Dotdot said.
Some products display a “period after opening” symbol. “If you look at the back of some of your products, it looks like a little container bottle with the lid popped open,” Dotdot said.
Aside from the period after opening, the location where a product is stored can also affect its longevity.
“It depends on what kind of atmosphere you keep the products in,” said Iowani Unpingco, a makeup artist on Guam.
Moist environments create bacteria breeding grounds, Unpingo said, and hot temperatures hasten a recommended time frame.
“For liquids, you can smell it if it feels different from a new foundation or eyeshadow,” Unpingco said.
The recommended time span of a product also depends on the type of soap you use. Unpingco recommends using antibacterial or bar soaps to massage brush hairs and kills germs.
Though it may be cumbersome to clean products, Unpingco said, “For a makeup artist, I suggest you wash it when your day ends, but for personal use, you can wait a week.”
Even though cleaning makeup seems like a small problem in the pandemic, dirty products can cause skin irritation.
“If you don’t put clean stuff on your face, you can get pimples, pink eye, or styes,” Unpingco. “All of those things are because of bacteria in products.”
Reach reporter Anne Wen at [email protected].