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How to Sanitize Your Beauty Kit Like a Pro Makeup Artist

Halima Aden, Vogue Arabia, makeup brushes

Halima Aden photographed by Greg Kadel for Vogue Arabia

It has never been more important to sanitize your makeup products. As we have learned from the Covid-19 crisis, stubborn viruses can survive on surfaces for days. 70% Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) is your most important weapon when it comes to keeping your makeup bag and its contents sanitized. Made from a 70% alcohol 30% water solution, it is most effective against bacteria, fungi, and viruses.

A common misconception is that the higher the alcohol content⁠—for example, the widely available 91% IPA⁠—the more effective. This is not the case. It needs 30% water to destabilize the cell membranes of the bacteria, fungi, and virus to allow the alcohol to penetrate the cell to destroy.

Adopt a pro makeup artist approach to your own makeup bag in keeping yourself safe and healthy. Don’t know the right way to clean each of your products? It’s easy! Follow these important steps from pro makeup artist Toni Malt.

Pencils: Eyeliner, Lip Pencils

For a quick sanitization of your pencils, sharpen them to remove the part of the pencil that contains bacteria. To be more thorough, spray a little disinfectant on a tissue and wipe over the sharpened tip of the pencil.

Cream Products: Cream or Stick Foundation, Lipsticks, Cream Highlighters, Cream Contour, Gel Eyeliners, Lipsticks

Wipe the top and sides of the cream makeup product with a sanitizing wipe and then spray the same area with 70% IPA; it will dry within a minute.

Powder Products: Blush, Eyeshadows, Face Powders, Powder Highlighters, Powder Contour

Place all your eye shadow palettes, blushers, face powders, powder contour, and highlight products next to each other on a table. Open them and clean the packaging inside and outside with a sanitizing wipe. Now spray with 70% IPA from an approximate distance of 15cm. This will not damage your powder products, as the sanitizing mist will simply evaporate after a minute.

Also Read: The Rituals the Beauty Community Have Kept and Ditched During Isolation


Mascara is a tricky product to keep sanitized. As soon as you have used it once and return the mascara wand into the bottle, the product may be contaminated. Pro artists use disposable mascara wands and never double dip to keep mascaras free from any bacteria. Sadly this means that the effect of a great in-built mascara wand is never experienced. If you wish to use the in-built wand, a good rule of thumb is to dispose of your mascara monthly and don’t share it with anyone.

Lip gloss

Just like Mascara, lip gloss⁠—if applied using the built-in applicator⁠—will be contaminated after the first use. Better to apply it onto a sanitized surface, simply sanitize your hands and place on the back of your hand or a palette and use a brush or your finger to apply the gloss onto your lips.

Felt-Tip Eyeliner

Felt-tip eyeliners are hard to clean without damaging them. Gently squeeze the felt-tip into a sanitizing wipe followed by a quick spritz of 70% IPA, wait 60 seconds before closing the lid so the sanitizing mist can evaporate.


Reusable sponges cannot be 100% sanitized, the very core of the sponge may always retain bacteria, so best to use disposable sponges. If you can’t do without them then here is how to clean and sanitize them the best way possible. Wet your sponge with lukewarm water and clean with liquid dish soap. Once clean, place the sponge in a bowl of water and heat in the microwave for 2 minutes on high, this will clean most of the bacteria, fungi, and viruses.


Clean your brushes after every use, or at least once a week, under lukewarm water, with a special brush soap or Johnson’s Baby Shampoo. Do this gently avoiding any bristle breakage. Squeeze the bristles into a tissue in their original direction to drain excess water. Follow by soaking the brushes for 20 minutes in 70% IPA to disinfect them. Quickly rinse them in the water again and gently squeeze any excess water and lay flat on a tissue to dry overnight.

Eyelash Curler

Take a sanitizing wipe and wipe the eyelash curler clean, removing any leftover mascara and any bacteria. Finish with a quick spritz of 70% IPA and let it evaporate.

Makeup bag

Opt for a makeup bag that you can put in the washing machine after the wash simply spray with 70% IPA and let it dry. If you have a beautiful leather makeup bag make sure to wipe it with sanitizing wipes and spray all over with the sanitizing mist.

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