2. Most of
the germs that end up in our makeup are harmless and ones
that are found naturally on our skin.
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“The makeup will contain your natural flora from your face,
which is kind of like a germ fingerprint,”
Dr. Susan Whittier, Associate Professor of Clinical
Pathology and Cell Biology at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia
University Medical Center, tells BuzzFeed Health.
Germs include bacteria, protozoa, viruses, and fungi, and
they exist everywhere. Actually, everyone has a specific
bacterial ~flora~ (germ profile) on their skin and inside
their bodies, so germs are totally natural. “These include
things like Staphylococcus epidermidis, Streptococcus
viridans, and Micrococcus,” Whittier said.
But you should avoid pathogens — which are different
from normal germs. A pathogen is any bacteria, virus, or
other organism that causes disease or infections. Think:
staph aureus, E. coli, strep, salmonella, etc.
using the same products forever without cleaning them
can allow bacteria, viruses, and fungi to grow that put
you at risk for a whole host of health problems.
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For instance, if you apply makeup with dirty hands, use your
products when you’re sick, share makeup with someone else,
never clean it, etc. And it’s not just that you’re
transmitting germs to your makeup — you’re then getting that
bacteria-ridden makeup in your mouth, eyes, and any broken
“If you have an open cut or pimple, the dirty makeup could
get in there and cause an infection like staph — or if it’s
your eye, it can cause irritation or conjunctivitis (pink
eye),” Whittier says. And viruses like the flu or a cold — or
even the herpes simplex virus — can also survive on lipsticks
for days to weeks thanks to the waxes and proteins in them.
So no, contaminated makeup won’t kill you, but it could cause
a nasty skin or eye problem that requires a doctor’s visit.
Not to mention, there might be poop in your old makeup, too.
“After three months, makeup will probably also have some
fecal matter since it’s usually stored and used in the
bathroom next to the toilet,” Whittier says. Fantastic.
Obviously the lesson here is to clean your makeup. But…how?
And does it really work?
“For most products, you can spray them with alcohol or use an
alcohol wipe on the outermost layer — when it dries, it’ll be
clean,” Whittier said.
That sounds easy enough, actually.
6. So we
swabbed the (probably disgusting) makeup products.
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John Gara / Via BuzzFeed
Then we transferred the makeup on the swab to a petri dish
filled with nutrient agar, which is food for bacteria and
other germs to grow. For the Beautyblender, we cut a small
piece and put it in a test tube full of liquid amies,
vortexed, then swabbed the solution onto a petri dish.
We popped the petri dishes into an incubator set to 98.6
degrees (the average internal body temperature of a human
body) and waited 48 hours.
to clean your makeup yet? US TOO. So here are three easy, DIY
cleaning methods you can use on any of your makeup products:
These methods were approved by both our germ expert
and our makeup expert, BuzzFeed senior beauty editor
Augusa Falleta, to make sure they were both effective enough
to kill the germs and gentle enough to not damage the makeup.
Here’s what you’ll need:
* 1 mini spray bottle
* 70%–90% isopropyl alcohol (you can find this at the
* alcohol wipes
* 1 bowl filled with warm water
* liquid soap (dish, baby, hand) or a soap bar
20. So, in
conclusion: Your makeup will grow a ton of germs and maybe
pathogens over time, but cleaning your products regularly can
make a big difference.
We definitely aren’t trying to scare you here or suggest you
toss all your makeup in the trash. As we mentioned before,
most of the germs in your makeup are probably from your own
skin (unless it’s shared) and they won’t make you sick. But
you never know which germs could be on your hands, or what
might be living on the bathroom counter where you rest all
So it’s always a good idea to clean and sanitize your
products every week or so to cut down on the amount of germs
and the possibility that any of them will make you sick. It’s
an easy end-of-the-week habit and you can do it at home with