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.
So how to stay healthy or prevent reinfection if you do come down with a bug? Try our advice for keeping viruses under wraps.
Mascara is a safer bet when it comes to germs, unless you’re a “pumper”—pumping the wand actually dries out the mascara and invites germs and bacteria. So if you pump, it’s time to dump. Also, if your illness is increasing mucus in the corners of your eyes, you may want to move on. Don’t feel too bad: If mascara is more than three months old, it’s time to replace it anyway.
Eyeliner poses more of a problem, particularly if you apply it along the inside of your lower lash line. But there is a quick fix: “If you use a pencil in the water line, make sure to sharpen to a new point before reapplying after being under the weather,” New York City– and L.A.–based professional makeup artist Tomy Rivero says (and the same advice applies to lip liner). And don’t forget to wash your hands before applying. Most of us use the opposite hand to hold our skin steady as we draw that perfect cat’s eye, so keep it clean!
Related: 2 Tips To Avoid Getting Sick
Sometimes simple is best: “I keep a small spray bottle clearly labeled ‘alcohol’ in my set up. Any time I feel like there might be a chance for cross-contamination, I spray (at a distance) a fine mist of alcohol to kill any superficial germs. You can do this with your brushes, some powders and creams, tip of a lipstick, etc.,” says Rivero, who also recommends BeautySoClean ($13 for 8ml., beautysoclean.com). “They also created specialty wipes and an array of products to sanitize your cosmetics.”