How to Sanitize Makeup

Say you’ve just decluttered a whole bunch of your makeup, and you’re planning on giving them away.  Or conversely, you participated in a swap, and you received gently used makeup – how do you sanitize makeup?
sanitize makeup
I’ve participated in MUA swaps way back in the day, and have given away lots  of my makeup to friends. I generally keep my makeup in very clean condition, but it is still prudent to sanitize everything before you give them away. Here are some items you will need:

• 99% rubbing alcohol – higher alcohol content is preferable as it will have less water or filler; it will evaporate faster and not alter the makeup
• clean spray bottle
• retractable knife – I retain a retractable knife solely to use for makeup: to depot or remove pans from magnetic palettes, and for sanitizing (I clean the blade with 99% alcohol)
• non-linting tissue, paper towel, cotton pads
• pencil sharpener
• brush cleanser
• nail polish remover

sanitize makeup
• dip tube into 99% alcohol
• wipe tube with non-lint tissue or paper towel
• use sharp knife to cut about 2mm off the tip (refrigerating the tube overnight first will help to solidify the lipstick)

sanitize makeup
• wipe surface layer of product with non-lint tissue or paper towel
• lightly spray surface with 99% rubbing alcohol (this will not harm the product)

sanitize makeup
• sharpen off the ends, about 5 turns in a sharpener should get rid of any of the exposed tip
• to be extra sure, break off the existing tip and then sharpen the pencil back to a point

sanitize makeup
• deep clean using whichever brush cleaner you prefer
• after the brushes are dried, spray 99% rubbing alcohol over the bristles

Nail polishes
sanitize makeup
• generally nail polishes stay quite sanitary due to its acetone content, but I like to wipe the brush as well as the neck of the bottles clean of any hardened nail polish residue with nail polish remover

No-no items: these are items I will never give away or swap for used because it’s impossible to sanitize them:
• Lip glosses with wands – I’m still wary about the squeeze type tubes but they’re more sanitary
• Concealer with wands (basically anything with doe-foot sponge tipped wands!)
• Mascaras
• Liquid liners

I think that even if you’re not giving away your makeup, it’s good practice to sanitize your own makeup from time to time.  For instance, I like to clean the mouth of my nail polish bottles – this also allows the cap to form a tighter seal so the nail polish doesn’t dry out as fast.

What about you? Do you give gently used makeup away, or participate in swaps?  How do you sanitize your makeup?

67 thoughts on “How to Sanitize Makeup

  1. Nope never really done makeup swaps. And I don’t share my makeup with anyone since I live alone. I have in the past shared lippie or eyeliner with my sisters but I would feel quite icky about sharing with others…except now I know these handy sanitizing tips 😉
    So clever to cut a bit of the lipstick it brings back that nice new lipstick curve.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. I’ve heard of it! I’m going to check them out in the new year. I don’t have any issues with getting gently used makeup, and having something more structured like a site to regulate it is probably even better!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent post and tips. I haven’t participated in any swaps or sold make-up because I’m always concerned about this issue. I’m extremely conscientious of cleaning my brushes, and its great to see other ways of making sure cosmetics stay clean! Especially eye products I find. Definitely I would NEVER share a mascara, liquid liner or anything with a sponge tip applicator… they seem like a breeding ground for germs! X

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I cringe when I see people with super dirty brushes / sponges especially for foundation… and then they wonder why they’re breaking out! I wouldn’t advise to always spraying brushes with alcohol since it’s so drying, but it’s good for fully sanitizing them). The thought of sharing mascara gives me chills!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve given away bags of makeup I don’t use/want to both of my sisters and my mother, but we don’t bother sanitizing since we’re so close. We’re not worried about each others’ germs! But if I were to give something to a friend I totally would sanitize!

    Good points about the wand-type cosmetics, didn’t think of that!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is great advice, girl, espeically since I’m about to go through and declutter some junk. Something else you can do with the liner would be to wash the sharpener in alcohol first to make sure it’s clean too 🙂 100% agree that lipgloss and mascara are a no no for gifting unless they have never been used!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yup, I do swap the sharpener blade with alcohol first, same with the knife when I cut off the lipsticks (I clean it between each cutting too). Glad you can make use of this for your upcoming mega decluttering! (lol I’m just teasing it’s going to be like just ONE palette right? One of those WnW Fall ones that were duds…)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great tips here! I’ve only given makeup to my sister, next time I should really sanitize it for her! I guess between family I didn’t think about it as much, but definitely a good idea.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Good idea on cutting the tips off a lipstick, I have a few shades I don’t reach for very often now because they’ve rounded themselves off and are a bit messier to use! I don’t really share makeup with anyone other than my sister on an odd occasion, but good idea if you’re ever going to do a blog sale (which I have been thinking of doing!) x

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Nice tips! I think I followed your tips pretty closely when I was swapping, too. No used wands!!! Argh.

    I did have one unsalvagable eyeshadow palette, once – my own, not from a swap. A bug got into it. NOOOOOOOO. I tried sanitizing it, but couldn’t deal with the image of the bug in there. Nope nope nope. Old UD palette, so sad 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OMG! How did a BUG get in your eye shadow?!!! Oh yeah, that’s not salvageable. I guess if you gouge out a chunk around where the bug was but yeah, the mental image of that bug would forever taint it for me too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was horrific. I don’t even know – the space to squeeze in was so, so tiny! Oh well, it was an adorable palette but I rarely used it (old school UD e/s colors with loads of brights and glitter).

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I know I’m late to the party but I have been told by a friend who recently graduated from Cosmetology school as well as read multiple articles about NOT using 99% Rubbing alcohol precisely because it activates a coating on the virus/germs you are trying to kill and that the proper percentage is 70%.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing this information! I have recently read something about that too – that 70% is preferable as it doesn’t evaporate as quickly so it has more time to be in contact with the surface. An easy remedy is to simply dilute the 99% with water.


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