How to detox your make-up bag

06 January 2020 | By Leigh van den Berg

Whether your make-up bag is a miscellaneous collection of half-open concealers and eyeliners - or, you just know you've been hanging on to that mascara for longer than you should - we're here to help give your make-up bag a fresh start.


Is your make-up bag a breeding ground for germs? The short answer is yes. Many studies have shown time and again that makeup brushes, sponges and even mascara wands can become a petri dish for infection-causing bacteria. To keep things clean, you need to commit to washing your make-up tools and take note of your cosmetics' expiry dates. While the eye shadow you’ve been using for five years might look perfectly fine to the naked eye, it could well be harbouring a microscopic fungus.  

To help you out, we have expert advice on how to keep things hygienic and know when to toss what. 

How often should you wash your make-up brushes?

According to make-up artist Tamryn Jefferies, you should be washing your make-up brushes and sponges at least once a week. “You can use a little warm water and a specially formulated make-up brush cleaner, but a little gentle face wash can do the trick too,” says Jefferies. “Gently massage your sponge or make-up brush bristles using your fingers and then rinse until the water runs clear.” You can also clean your brushes by running them around a make-up brush cleansing pad. The way you dry your brushes is important too. “Once you’re done, reshape the brush head and leave them to dry with the bristles hanging over the edge of a tabletop so they don’t dry in a rounded shape instead of flat.” 

Know when it's time to toss

The one cosmetic women tend to hold onto a lot longer than they should is mascara, says Jefferies. “Your mascara lives in a dark, wet tube making it the ideal environment for the growth of bacteria, a process that gets sped up when you pump air in and out of the tube. This is why you want to replace it every three months, regardless of whether it looks or smells okay,” says Jefferies. As for everything else? Here are her guidelines: 

Powders, shadow and blush - 2 years
Creamy eye shadows and blush – 12 to 18 months
Liquid foundation - 1 year
Lipstick and “pencil products” like lip liner or eyeliner – up to 2 years

“You also need to pay attention to what you’re using, even if it’s within the use-by-date. If anything has changed colour, dried out, is starting to separate or starting to smell a little different, it’s time to let it go,” she says. Also, if you’ve had any kind of eye infection or cold sore, whatever products came into contact with the affected area should be sent to that big make-up graveyard in the sky. 

New beginnings for your make-up bag

While getting rid of much-loved make-up can leave your beauty stash looking barren, think of it as the potential for a fresh start. “It’s very easy to replace something you enjoy using with the same thing, but don’t get stuck in a rut. Formulations are improving all the time and if you’re still using the same foundation since 2015, you might be missing out on something even more fabulous,” says Jefferies. “Use the detox to inspire a hunt for something new and to experiment with new things. The great thing about make-up is that if you don’t like it, you can simply wash it off!” 

IMAGE CREDIT: 123rf.com

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