How To Keep Germs And Bacteria Out Of Your Beauty Routine

With care and devotion, we apply our lotions and potions. We keep a regular sleep schedule, we drink loads of water, we avoid certain foods, and we do it all for the love of happy and healthy skin. And yet somehow — even after all that — our skin seems to pick times to reject our affections with fantastically vengeful breakouts. So what gives?

L'Oréal's says that sometimes breakouts can happen even if your skincare routine is top-notch. Without proper care, our makeup, skincare products, and applicators can become the perfect place for bacteria to proliferate. Acne happens when blocked hair follicles become infected with bacteria (per Mayo Clinic). So even if you're doing everything else right, without taking certain steps to keep bacteria out of your beauty routine, you put yourself at risk for bothersome breakouts. Let's take a closer look at the effects of bacteria on our skin and review a few simple steps you can take to keep those pesky germs at bay.

How bacteria affects your skin

Much like our gut, our skin is home to millions of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that are essential in protecting us from pathogens and informing our immune system (per Nature). So while certain bacteria can be beneficial, others can wreak havoc on our complexion. The bacteria that live on dirty makeup brushes, for example, can lead to fungal infections, E. coli, or staph infections, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

Your makeup brushes aren't the only things in your makeup bag capable of harboring infection-causing bacteria, either. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology reported that up to nine out of the ten used makeup products that were tested — including lip gloss, mascara, and beauty blenders — were home to bacteria capable of causing skin infections, and potential blood infections if used near the mouth, eyes, or skin with an open wound or scrape. Beauty blenders and similar sponges were found to have the highest levels of these harmful bacteria, most likely because they are left damp after use.

Tips for keeping bacteria out of your beauty routine

Luckily, we are not left defenseless against infection-causing bacteria. With a few easy-to-integrate habits, we can keep that bad bacteria out of our beauty routine. First, it's crucial that we regularly wash our makeup brushes. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends washing them every 7 to 10 days, with a gentle cleansing shampoo, and letting them air dry on a paper towel. When speaking with Allure, Ava Shamban, a Beverly Hills-based dermatologist, suggested washing beauty blenders after use, if possible, and replacing them every three months.

While it may seem obvious to some, also reminds us that washing our hands before touching our faces or applying products is a must, as putting dirty digits into creams or foundations can introduce bacteria to the products. They also recommend wiping your mouth before applying lipstick or balm to clear away any bacteria that may be lingering on your lips.