Cleaning Your Makeup Kit

Whether you’re a professional makeup artist or a beauty buff creating looks for friends, using properly sanitized makeup and tools are absolutely essential.

Know When You Need to Clean

Powder sheer brush

If a tool, brush, palette, etc. is visibly dirty, it’s clearly time to clean it. If you’ve used it on one person and plan to use it on someone else, it’s definitely time to clean it. If you really can’t tell, you should probably clean it just to be safe. And from here on out, a cleaning schedule will cover your bases.

Even if you’re only doing your own makeup, you should be cleaning your makeup kit at least once every two weeks. If you have acne or skin conditions that may spread, you may want to clean more often. If you’re a professional, you should always sanitize between clients.

Sanitize Your Makeup

The idea of cleaning your makeup—including the products themselves—can sound a little intimidating. Done correctly, you actually don’t have to sacrifice much product. In fact, preventing contamination ensures it doesn’t end up in the trash.

Some supplies you’ll want to have on hand include:

  • Isopropyl alcohol (at least 70%)
  • Cotton swabs
  • Clean disposable tissues or wipes
  • Paper towels
  • Hand sanitizer

Here’s how you can sanitize various makeup items with minimal waste:

  • Eyeshadow and powder products: Gently wipe the surface with a tissue to reveal the clean product, then spritz lightly with isopropyl alcohol. Luckily, powder products do not hold onto bacteria the way liquid or cream formulas do.
  • Lipstick: The same goes for lipsticks in any form, you should be using disposable wands or a lip brush to apply after scraping the product out with a spatula. Wipe away a thin surface layer of lipstick and wipe the tube down with alcohol.
  • Liner and brow pencils: Give the pencil a fresh tip with a sharpener and lightly wipe the length with alcohol.
  • Mascara: Unless you are giving your client the mascara tube, you should always use disposable mascara wands to not contaminate the product. You should still wipe the tube with alcohol as well as the threading where mascara can build up.
  • Squeeze products: Use an alcohol-soaked wipe to clean the nozzle area, cap threading and tube exterior.
  • Bottled liquids: Wipe down the cap, threading and bottle exterior with isopropyl alcohol.
  • Potted cream products: When using a cream product, it is best to use a spatula and scrape out the product onto a glass palette so that you don’t contaminate the product. Use a clean tissue to wipe away a layer of product, then sanitize the pot with alcohol.

If It’s No Good, Toss It

The urge to squeeze every bit of glam from your makeup products is strong, but if it’s expired or contaminated, let it go. If it’s looking questionable and can’t be salvaged, it’s safer to say goodbye than put anyone (including yourself!) at risk.

As a general guideline:

  • Liquid liner and mascara last about 3-6 months
  • Foundations and concealers last about 6-12 months
  • Lip products and eyeshadows last about 1-2 years

Properly Wash (and Dry) Your Tools

Lip gloss sets

Whether or not you work on clients, it’s always important to regularly wash the tools you use.

For makeup artists:

  • Consider using disposable mascara wands and other applicators so that each client gets fresh tools. This helps prevent contamination from even accidental double dips.
  • If you’re using non-disposable tools, don’t just wipe the product off; fully wash and sanitize them. With multiple sets of professional makeup brushes, you can get through a series of clients and wash several sets at once.
  • Use a good brush cleanser to first sanitize and get stubborn product out followed up by a gentle soap and or conditioner to keep brushes soft and prevent damage.

For Non-MUA Beauty Buffs:

  • If you’re doing makeup for others, it’s ideal to fully wash your tools before working on them. If you’re just doing your own makeup, you can generally wait for the next scheduled cleaning.
  • Clean brushes gently by hand with a mild solution of soap and water. Any shampoo, bar, or liquid soap will work. Specialized makeup brush cleaner products are also available.
  • Gently shake or form brushes into shape before laying them out on a clean towel to dry.

Tips for Sanitary Storage and Use

Like with anything else, keeping your makeup clean is also about prevention. To keep your kit in good condition between cleanings:

  • Keep products organized by type and make sure they’re secured in place during travel. Loose products could break or spill, making a huge mess and contaminating other products.
  • Let tools and products dry fully before storing to prevent microbial growth and other issues.
  • Sanitize your makeup case(s) and other storage regularly to prevent re-contamination.
  • Keep your kit in a dry place away from extreme temperatures.
  • Limit air exposure to creamy or liquid products. Air can dry out products or carry contaminants like bacteria and dust. Replace caps right away and keep compacts and palettes closed when not in use.
  • Only touch tools with clean hands. If you simply must pet that fluffy brush, wash your mitts first.

Cleanliness is just one of the crucial basics of makeup. Learn more valuable beauty tips and find everything you need for your perfect makeup kit today at Scott Barnes.