If you’re health-savvy, you already wipe down your cellphone, computer keyboard and gym equipment to avoid the spread of germs—but have you tackled your beauty bag? According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average adult gets two to three colds every year. Good old soap-and-water hand-washing is the best defense against catching a bug, but what you put on your skin elsewhere matters too.
“Frequent hand-washing, use of hand sanitizer and avoiding unnecessary touching of the face, mouth, nose and eyes help prevent the transmission of these viruses,” says Dr. Brian Boyle of Dublin Family Care in Columbus, Ohio.
However, it’s hard to avoid putting your fingers on your face when you need to apply sunscreen, moisturizer or lip balm. So how to stay healthy or prevent reinfection if you do come down with a bug? Try our advice for keeping viruses under wraps.
When it comes to creamy containers, think cross-contamination. “If you have any concern about germs, you should not be dipping your finger into anything,” says New York City– and L.A.–based professional makeup artist Tomy Rivero. “I always encourage my clients to use a tiny spatula (often provided with skincare creams) and make it a habit of scooping things out without using your fingers.” If you need to buy one, try a washable silicon Every Drop Beauty Spatula ($5, everybeautybrand.com). Not only will you keep your fingers from contaminating the container, but the wand will help you scrape out every last bit of that pricey night cream. Worried you’ve already spread too many germs? Simply scoop the top layer out of the jar and hope for the best.
You wouldn’t kiss someone with a cold, so protect yourself the same way when it comes to your lip products. Rivero suggests “either tossing or shaving off a layer of your lipstick if you are getting over a cold. It can eliminate transfers from when you were sick, helping you get better faster.” Colds are usually coupled with chapped lips, so keep applying a petroleum-free balm like Eos Honeysuckle Honeydew ($4, drugstore.com), but wipe off the top layer with a tissue before reapplying. Rivero is “always a fan of using a small lip brush,” such as Sonia Kashuk Retractable Tools Lip Brush ($8, target.com), but clean down applicators like this with an alcohol wipe.