The Hidden Bacteria Giving You Pimples

Just like the weird uncle you only see every few years at Christmas, we tend to ignore the potential bacteria within our makeup bags as much as possible. Fortunately, though, unlike like the uncomfortable presence of our estranged relatives, bacteria in your makeup bag is possible to avoid.

The consistency of makeup creates the perfect environment for bacteria to breed. Everything from eye infections to acne breakouts are a result of poor ‘makeup hygiene’.

Here are a few steps you can take to avoid the spread of ‘nasties’ within your beauty bag. 

Regularly wash makeup brushes

To anyone out there struggling with persistent breakouts that seem to have little or no cause. Before you squeeze, poke and run out to spend your hard-earned pennies on skincare products to counteract the uninvited guests to your face, try a more proactive approach and make sure you are not spreading bacteria onto your face via your brushes.

If you use makeup brushes and have skin prone to breakouts, make sure, if you are currently dealing with active breakouts (not just scarring from the ghosts of pimples past) you are not spreading bacteria by using your brush over active breakouts and then on clean skin. My advice would be to use something like a beauty blender and delegate one side for your blemishes and with a clean finger (I always keep hand sanitizer in my makeup bag) tap on any concealer. And don’t forget things like your eyelash curler, you can use an alcohol wipe to clean that easily.

 Don’t keep products past their expiry dates 

Yep! Your makeup products do expire! In happier news, it’s very easy to find out the shelf life of your products. On the back of your products look for this symbol: The number indicates how many months you can use the product for after opening.


For products that I don’t use weekly, I find it useful to mark the date I opened the product on the bottom in permanent marker, it’s a life saver if like me, you have an unhealthy addition to beauty products and own 4 different versions of the same thing (shout-out to my extensive self-tan and lipstick collection).

Clean the inside of your makeup bag

Enterococcus faecalis, Aeromonas, Propionibacterium… those are just 3 of the many types of bacteria that can be found in your makeup bag. So if you want to avoid infections and breakouts I suggest giving your makeup bag a clean once a week.

Sharing is NOT caring

One of the most important tips I can share however is, at all costs, avoid sharing makeup products. I know we all love our besties and would give them anything (yep, even some of our NARS sheer glow- which is actually an okay product to share because you need to pour the product out to use it), but beauty products are more of a ‘me’ thing than a ‘we’ thing. If they’re good people (which of course they are if they’re your best friend) they’ll understand.


Written by @madelinegrice