Makeup Hygiene Rules To Follow When You Have Acne Or A Cold Sore Or Use Your Cosmetics When Sick

Your skin is more vulnerable to irritation when you're sick. Cold sores are brought on by certain strains of the herpes simplex virus (HSV), whereas the infection of pimples is caused by the skin-dwelling bacteria Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes). When it comes to makeup hygiene, the general rule of thumb is to take a break from makeup when you have acne, a cold sore, or when you're sick. The reason for this is that your skin, under normal circumstances, is always buzzing with a diverse colony of microorganisms, from bacteria to viruses. 

Each time you apply makeup directly to your skin, you expose these items to your skin's germs. Any bacteria you may be carrying could end up in your products. Using makeup items that have been exposed to inflammatory or infected areas (such as contagious cold sores or pink eye), can put your skin at risk of further irritation. That's why many people bite the bullet and clean out their makeup tools after having "contaminated" them. 

Having said that, outbreaks don't always have to be the end of your expensive beauty tools. If you're in a situation where you must put on makeup while your face is rebelling or you've been sick in some way, there are ways to do so — without having to empty your entire beauty cabinet afterward or risking reinfection. Below, check out the essential makeup hygiene rules to follow when handling makeup items after they've been in contact with any skin-dwelling microbes. 

Your makeup is still safe on acne

There's no need to toss away your makeup items after using them on acne skin. Dermatologist Kristina Collins tells Well+Good: "For one thing, pimples and other breakouts are more inflammatory in nature and aren't always truly infected with bacteria." According to Collins, if there are bacteria, they are often of the type that are typically present on the skin, and are therefore not a major threat. However, that doesn't mean you should leave your makeup tools unsanitized after using them on acne. 

Although acne is not contagious, the American Academy of Dermatology points out that acne-causing bacteria, sebum, and dead skin cells can adhere to your makeup brushes and makeup applicators. Dirty makeup tools are an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, predisposing the skin to further irritation and infections. To keep your tools safe to reuse, clean your makeup brushes at least once per week to get rid of harmful bacteria and avoid sharing them with anyone. Since makeup sponges are very absorbent and can therefore retain bacteria even more than brushes, it is advisable to wash them thoroughly after each use.

Cold sores require deft handling

Unlike acne, cold sores develop as a result of a viral infection (typically on or around the lips). This means that they could spread to other people. According to dermatologist Marisa Garshick, the area is generally considered infectious until it scabs over. Thus, it's better to avoid applying makeup brushes on top of it, since the virus might still spread if the tools aren't thoroughly sterilized. 

Echoing the sentiment, dermatologist Kristina Collins recommends tossing out lipsticks in tube forms (such as lip gloss) after having a cold sore, since they are prone to harbor viruses and germs. Dr. Collins also points out that while you'll want to stop using infected makeup after being sick, certain products are safe for reuse if handled appropriately. For example, if you have lipstick that's solid, sanitizing its surface with an alcohol wipe will do. If it's a lip gloss, use disposable applicators instead. 

According to dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, not using your favorite lipstick when you're sick is the best way to save it. "If you want to, use a disposable applicator so the product does not ever directly touch your lips. But remember not to double dip your applicator, which will contaminate the lipstick," Dr. Zeichner tells Allure

Don't reuse makeup items used on pink eye

Pink eye, a viral infection at the conjunctiva, is more tricky to deal with. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, direct contact with an infected person's body fluids, transmission of the virus from germs in the person's sinuses, or ill-fitting contact lenses can all put your eyes at risk of a viral infection. 

Eye makeup tools tainted with pink eye infection are beyond save. Reusing contaminated beauty products, such as mascara, eyeliner, and eye shadow, can cause yourself to be reinfected. "Pink eye is a sneaky virus that can live on objects. I recommend throwing away any eye makeup you used while infected, especially anything with a wand applicator that you dip into the tube or bottle (think mascara, liquid eyeliner, etc.)," dermatologist Dr. Melissa Peck tells Today. "When you put the wand back in the tube, you contaminate all of the product."

On that note, refrain from sharing eye makeup at all costs. Sharing makeup increases the risks of spreading an infection like pink eye. If you show signs of an eye infection, such as red and itchy eyes, have your eyes checked out by a healthcare professional and only wear makeup when you're sure they are infection-free. 

How to disinfect your beauty products

When it comes to disinfecting beauty tools, some are easier to clean while some can be a lost cause. For instance, powder eye shadow, eye pencils and lipstick tips can be sanitized with an alcohol spray or shaved off at the tip for safer reuse, dermatologist Dr. David Lortscher tells Today.  A mascara or lip gloss with a wand applicator, on the other hand, cannot be totally cleaned because the wand has been exposed to bacteria and has most likely contaminated the remainder of the tube. 

Regine Berthelot, director of spa education at Caudalie, suggests that you always use a spatula for products that are in jars, refrain from double dipping, and cleanse the spatula after each use to prevent contamination. At the same time, avoid letting your finger come into direct contact with the dispensing area of a product. Instead, squeeze the product on a clean surface before use to avoid introducing germs into the tube, Berthelot advises. Spraying 70% isopropyl alcohol over your makeup brushes and beauty blenders after cleaning them is also a good way to make sure your beauty tools are sterilized. 

Storing your cosmetics the right way also makes them last longer and prevents the growth of harmful bacteria. Cosmetic chemist Perry Romanowski advises: "Temperatures over 85 degrees F (like in a hot car) can break down the preservatives and help bacteria to grow. Storing cosmetics in a cool, dry place is the most safe behavior."