If your face is a canvas, then makeup is the medium, and your beauty tools are the paintbrushes. We’re not trying to drag out a metaphor, but there’s a reason why beauty experts and makeup artists (MUAs) everywhere always stress the importance of cleanliness. We’re not just talking about washing your tools, but about tossing expired makeup too. Obviously for MUAs, maintaining a clean kit between clients is essential to prevent the risk of spreading infections every time someone sits in their chair. But what about your personal makeup and beauty tools?
Why Hygiene Matters
Every time you swipe a makeup tool like a sponge or brush across your face, the bristles can pick up microscopic debris. This includes dirt, oils, bacteria, and even skin cells. Now consider that when you dip that brush into a makeup container, you’re now introducing those contaminants into the makeup.
The Downside of Dirty Brushes
Also consider that as makeup continues to accumulate on your brushes, it changes the texture of the bristles. Dirty brushes can feel stiffer because of the product buildup. This can also impact makeup applications, leading to streaky product placement or inaccurate color payoff because of product buildup.
Over time, constantly using dirty makeup tools can also lead to skin irritations like breakouts or even cause blemishes. And of course, a dirty brush might not last as long as a clean one as the dirt and oil on the bristles can cause the adhesive used to bond them to the handle to dissolve.
Why Expired Makeup is a No-no
Contrary to popular belief, makeup can and does expire. While you might not realize it, most commercially sold makeup features an expiration date. This can range anywhere from three months to as much as 24 months or two years depending on the product.
In general, the expiration date represents the amount of time in which the product is safe to use once you begin using it. After the expiration, makeup can degrade and break down — especially when you factor in that bacteria, dirt, and oil are being introduced to the makeup every time you dip a beauty tool or your fingers into the product.
This is especially true if you’re using makeup with active ingredients in it — such as foundations that claim to improve the appearance of your acne. Using makeup after expiration can be just as detrimental as using dirty makeup tools.
Along the same lines, sharing makeup and makeup tools is a great way to pass infections and bacteria between friends and family. You shouldn’t share makeup at all but most importantly, eye makeup shouldn’t be shared — unless you like the idea of getting an eye infection like pink eye.
Tips to Follow
Now that you know what you shouldn’t do, take note of beauty best practices to ensure that your makeup collection and tools are in tip-top shape and don’t pose a hazard.
Makeup Tools Do’s and Don’ts
- At a minimum wash your brushes and sponges thoroughly at least once a week.
- Pay special attention to foundation and concealer brushes or tools as these are more likely to absorb the product.
- Use a gentle soap or dedicated brush cleaner (solid bar or liquid is fine)
- Don’t wash your brushes in the washing machine as this can weaken the glue that holds the bristles to the handle.
- Reusable makeup sponges should be replaced every three to four months.
- When brush bristles begin to fray, shed, or lose their shape, it’s time to replace the brush.
Makeup Expiration Guidelines
- Mascara should be replaced six months after opening the container. But swap it out sooner if the texture changes, it begins to smell, or if you’ve had an eye infection.
- While dry eyeliner pencils don’t have an expiration, liquid liners should be replaced after six months.
- Liquid foundation should be replaced when you see the texture change (i.e. the formula separates. SPF foundations should be replaced after six months as the SPF will lose efficacy.
- Cream products should be replaced every six months — this includes cream shadows, lipsticks/glosses/balms, blushes, concealers, creamy pencils, and cream-to-powder foundations.
- Powder products can last up to two years. But SPF infused powders should be replaced every six months.