You have probably heard some vague claim on the internet or from one of your friends that your makeup has more nasty germs in it than almost anything in your daily lives. This is the kind of factoid that gets thrown around like “your cell phone is 10 times dirtier than your toilet seat”. Well, guess what? Both are true.
Now that you are back from taking a lysol wipe to your phone and washing your face, let’s talk brass tacks: is this anything that we should truly find concerning? That answer is much more complicated. With this in mind, today we will be exploring the dark and disgusting world of microbes in your makeup.
Bacteria, Viruses, and Debris in Your Makeup Kit
So your makeup is disgusting. This probably doesn’t come as a great surprise. Exactly how disgusting is another matter entirely. Let’s look at some of the facts when it comes to makeup, makeup brushes, and the germs they carry:
Sharing makeup is the biggest issue: although all makeup has the tendency to accumulate harmful microbes (more on this below), those who are worried about germs can take the simple step of keeping their makeup to themselves. Consider the case of a US woman who contracted herpes from a lipstick tester. While you might trust your friends and family, sharing cosmetics is in fact the biggest no-no when it comes to makeup hygiene.
9 in 10 makeup products contain illness-causing bacteria: according to a recent study performed at Aston University in England, approximately 90 percent of common makeup products such as blending sponges, mascara, and lipstick/lip gloss contained harmful microbes. The bacteria identified is capable of causing infections including staph, blood poisoning, and other dangerous skin infections.
Blender sponges and other “sponge” products had the worst cleanliness ratings: as part of the study referenced above, it was found that makeup sponges had the highest rates of fungal contamination. This is likely due to a mix of poor hygienic tactics by the users and the inherent nature of sponges getting damp during use.
The Dangers of Dirty Makeup Brushes
To illustrate the issues of nastiness in our makeup bags, let’s take a look at some of the dangers that can impact our lives when using dirty makeup brushes:
- Contracting pink eye (conjunctivitis): as we will discuss below, fecal contamination is a very real problem for cosmetics of all kinds. Not keeping your makeup brushes/sponges clean can lead to a nasty case of pink eye.
- Skin irritation: it likely comes as no surprise that your skin might respond poorly to filthy makeup products. Common skin conditions like rosacea and acne can be exacerbated by unkempt makeup brushes.
- Clogged pores: as an extension of the previous point, dirt and debris from filthy makeup brushes and sponges are common causes of clogged pores. Clogged pores can cause a slew of skin issues including acne.
- Skin infections: bacterial and viral skin infections can certainly result from dirty makeup brushes. Staph infection, fungus, e coli, and a slew of viruses can all be transmitted through makeup products.
- Premature skin aging: while not as serious as the other items on this list, poor makeup hygiene can also lead to more significant wrinkles due to oxidative stress. When free radicals from dirt, debris, and other pollutants invade the skin, the visible signs of aging can come fast and heavy.
How to Keep Your Makeup Kit as Clean as Possible
So what the heck are we supposed to do about it? Thankfully, there are some relatively simple ways to avoid the nasty fates we have discussed today, including:
- Never share makeup products: rule number one for makeup hygiene is to never share products. The horror stories you read online are frequently the result of sharing cosmetics with friends, family, or even strangers.
- Keep your products dry in between uses: damp cosmetics frequently lead to germ-infested cosmetics. Bacteria and fungus like it warm and moist. Keep your cosmetics cool and dry when possible. This includes wringing out/removing makeup from sponges in between uses.
- Always clean products thoroughly if they get dirty: raise your hand if you have ever dropped a makeup product on the floor, picked it up, and kept right on using it. Congratulations, you and everyone else. Unfortunately, this is a great way to get sick. Cleaning products when they get dirty is essential for keeping your makeup kit free of unnecessary germs.
- Keep products away from the toilet: as popular science so astutely put it: “you cannot escape poop bacteria.” Thankfully, your cosmetic products do not need to live directly above the toilet. Keeping makeup outside the bathroom is a great way to keep it clean.
SCALE 2020 is for Dermatologists, Aesthetic Dermatologists, Cosmetic Surgeons, and More!
To learn more about cutting edge cosmetic procedures, laser tech, esthetic dermatology and much more, join us from July 22-25, 2020 for our annual Music City Scale Conference! SCALE is the premier multidisciplinary meeting for aesthetic medicine, surgery and dermatology in the United States. Join other industry professionals to discuss industry trends, emerging technologies, and more!
While our list is always expanding, click here to view our current exhibitors and sponsors for 2020. To register, follow this link. We look forward to seeing you this summer for the cosmetics industry event of the year!