I will readily identify as one of the makeup challenged. It’s sad, but true fact. So, when I find something I like and can figure out how to use it without looking like a clown, I stick to it like a really needy girlfriend. I wear my eyeliner stick down to a stub, use my mascara tubes until they’re empty and apply my eye shadow until I’m scraping the edge of the container to get the last scraps of powder. My intentions are both loyal and frugal, but I do realize that I am using my products past their expiration dates. Luckily I have found some tried and true methods for keeping my makeup kit in tip top shape so that I can get the most bang for my buck. Want to know my secrets? keep reading to find out more.

My cardinal rule for makeup kit hygiene is based on this one fact: each of the cosmetic tools in my kit has a different purpose, and as such, each needs its own special type of TLC. Remember that and you’ll keep your makeup tools and skin in perfect harmony. Below I’ve listed my favorite tools of the trade and the best ways to clean each of them.

Eyeliner: So we all learned to share in kindergarten, right? And when your friend asks to borrow your mascara just this one time, I know how much you really want to! But sharing your makeup, especially eye or lip makeup, is one of the easiest ways to contract an infection like pink eye, the cold virus or even something worse. And even when you keep your eyeliner to yourself, practice good hygiene habits. Sharpen your eyeliner pencil to remove the outer layers before use (as a bonus: this will also give you a neater edge).

Foundation Brush: Ideally, you should wash your liquid foundation brush every time you use it, but if that’s not possible aim for at least once a week. Pick up a bottle of Johnson and Johnson’s Baby Shampoo and dab the shampoo on the brush under warm running water until the bristles come away clean. This post includes an excellent tutorial on how to clean these brushes.

Mascara: One of the most common ways for women to contract eye infections is through their eye makeup. If you’re worried that some harmful bacteria may have gotten into your mascara, you can get rid of the bugs by tucking your mascara tube into your freezer for the night. Also, remember not to pump your mascara wand in and out of the mascara tube. That is one way to get bacteria into your product.

Powder Foundation: Bacteria that contribute to acne and clogged pores will settle on the surface of powder foundation given the opportunity. Once a week (or more, depending on how often you use it) take a tissue and gently wipe away the first layer of powder in your compact. This will take away the acne-forming bacteria on the top layer.

Lipstick: In the same way as the powder foundation, you can clean your lipstick by gently stroking in down a tissue or napkin, removing the first layer of gloss and the bacteria with it. Or, if you have some rubbing alcohol on hand, just dip the tube in the alcohol for 30 seconds. The alcohol won’t hurt the integrity of your lipstick. Just wipe the liquid away gently before your apply! But if, like me, you’re not a big fan of lipstick, you can avoid this problem entirely by going for a lip-gloss instead.

One last tip: I know it is so, so convenient, but resist the urge to store your makeup kit in your bathroom. Makeup products should be stored in a cool, dry place–exactly the opposite of the room where your shower is situated. Bacteria love to grow in humidity, so keep your makeup out of harm’s way. Try creating a make up station in your bedroom. All you need is a little counter or table space and a chair. Your skin will thank you, I promise!

What do you do to keep your makeup products clean? Share your tips with us in the comments!

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