How To: Spring Clean Your Beauty Bag

I am currently feeling the need to rid myself of all the crap I have amassed over the past X-number of years. I’m a hoarder and the concept of getting rid of things that may at some point in the distant never be useful has always been painful to quantify. Im not sure if it’s my age (maybe I’ve finally grown up?!) but Spring has now sprung (although admittedly only just) and I have gradually been decluttering my life and gifting, selling or donating the stuff I realistically no-longer want, use or need. All this de-cluttering has prompted this post…

One of the few (relatively) un-cluttered areas of my life is my make-up kit. I am a little anal when it comes to the cleanliness and organisation of my pro-kit. One of the first lessons my tutor taught me at college was that a dirty and untidy kit and unclean make-up brushes reflect negatively on you as a professional. These were wise words, so how can this translate to your own make-up bag?

We are probably all a little guilty of not keeping our make-up bags as clean as we could and also for holding on to products longer than we should… We all do it (myself included). With any product the best course of action is this: if you can’t remember when you last wore it, if it smells odd, has changed colour or texture or just looks as if it has seen better days then toss it out.

According to Trading Standards (UK) if the life expectancy of a product is less than 30 months the words best used before (often alongside an image of)and the relevant date showing the month and year or day month and year must be shown on the packaging. If the life expectancy of the product is more than 30 months then the open pot symbol (both pictured above) must be used to indicate how long after opening the product can be used without harm – it is frequently used on products with shorted life span too.

To help with the battle of the bag, I have put together a How To guide to cleaning your make-up bag. Good Luck!

Brushes and Sponges

How often do you clean your make-up brushes? Most people don’t clean them often enough. According to one piece of research (via Anisa International) 33% of women clean their make-up brushes less than once a month and a staggering 22% don’t clean them at all!

Dirty brushes can also be at the root of all kinds of issues and not just breakouts; serious and sometimes highly contagious conditions such as coldsores and conjunctivitis can be spread by a lack of brush hygiene. Make-up brushes accumulate dirt, grease and bacteria as you use them and all of this is carried from your face to your palette and back again, time after time creating a cocktail of nasties to paint your face with.

Clean and thoroughly dry your brushes (you can read how to clean your brushes properly here) and make sure you wipe down the handles before returning them to your bag. If you make-up sponge has seen better days then toss it out and replace with a new one, however if it still have some life in it then wash it thoroughly using a liquid soap and allow to air dry before putting it away – in an ideal world this should be done after every use… Bin those little applicators too – they have more than likely expended their life :)

Powder and Cream Products

Cream formulations such as blusher, lipstick and concealers have a life span of between 12-18 months, anything older than that is most likely worth throwing away. Powder products such as eyeshadows, blushers etc are a little more forgiving but even they have their day; around 24 to 36 months is the recommended life span.

If it is just you using the products then assuming they aren’t beyond all hope (such have developed a hard rim on the surface, dried out or crumbling) there isn’t any real need to clean the face of the powder itself beyond wiping over with a clean tissue and using an anti-bacterial spray on the case. If you are feeling extra diligent or know you have cause to clean it properly then spritz the surface with a little Isopropyl alcohol (IPA [preferably 99.9%]) which is an anti-bacteria and anti-fungal and leave to dry before closing.

Mascara and Liquid/Gel Eyeliners

Products that are designed to be applied to the eye are notorious short lived and for good reason; they are one of the most common carriers of infections and bacteria. The nature of the packaging means that the repeated pumping action drags air into the solution and this can cause it to dry out or go off; the rule of thumb is to replace your mascara and liquid eyeliners every two to three months.

If your mascara/liner is still within its lifespan then give the packaging a good clean and carefully wipe around the neck of the tube using a tissue, removing any built up gunk and debris. It is probably worth using a clean tissue to clean the brush too.


Be it an eye, brow or lip liner, pencil liners need cleaning just as much as any other product. They may have one of the longest lifespans in your make-up bag (approximately 24 months) but it is hard to know when they have gone off. To avoid any potential issues, wipe the body of the pencil using an anti-bacterial solution and sharpen the pencil using a clean pencil sharpener (more on sharpeners below :)

False Lashes

Personally I am not a fan of reusing false eyelashes, generally throwing them away after use as I don’t feel they go on as cleanly more than once however carefully they are removed. If you do like to re-use them then make sure you clean them thoroughly, removing any excess glue by using an old mascara wand or unused toothbrush and some IPA. Make sure you wipe over the packaging too.

Sharpeners, Tweezers and Lash Curlers

Brushes aren’t the only make-up tools that need regular cleaning; pencil sharpeners, eyelash curlers and tweezers can all harbour bacteria. Remove any residue make-up, wipe over the handles with some disinfectant spray and a cloth and finally clean the primary area thoroughly using rubbing alcohol. Focus on the blade of the sharpener, the metal tips of the tweezers and the removable cushion and top bar on the curlers. Allow to dry naturally.

Make-up Bag

Now you’ve sorted and cleaned your products its time to put it all away but before you do, take a good look at your make-up bag. I’m guessing that if it is anything like my own make-up bag it is covered with smears of products and has all kinds of crap loitering in the corners.

Firstly clear out any debris such as tissues, cotton buds and pencil sharpenings. Fabric bags or those that are machine washable should be put in the machine to remove any stains and bacteria before being left to air dry thoroughly. PVC bags should be wiped throughly with a cloth and some disinfectant and left to dry.

Have you cleaned out your make-up bag recently?

Images: (1,3) LJS – OMUA; (2) Trading Standards Authority

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