How to Flu-Proof Your Beauty Routine

Girl hiding under sheets - featured image

Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash

Written on 10/2019

Well, flu-season may be upon us or at the very least fast approaching. According to the CDC, peak flu season is between the fall and winter months. Having just had the flu, I can honestly tell you it’s not a joke. I’m going to try my best not to get sick again this year. 

That includes remembering to not touch my face after being out at the grocery store, bringing hand sanitizer with me EVERYWHERE, and staying on top of taking the supplements my DR. has given me to support my immune system. 

There’s one thing that we often forget about when it comes to viruses though, and that’s our beauty products.  Let’s explore the question:

Should you throw away makeup after you’ve been sick?

In the quest to find answers, there seems to be conflicting information out there on this topic. Some say toss and others say you don’t need to worry.

Morgan Statt, who was a health and safety investigator with between June 2017 and December 2018 has said flu germs can live on surfaces for several hours, which may lead to health issues.

The CDC says that “Studies have shown that the flu virus can live and potentially infect a person for up to 48 hours after being deposited on a surface.”

Then Drs. Such as Philip Tierno, Ph.D., a microbiologist, and Dr. Michelle Henry, a dermatologist in New York say that it is doubtful that you will reinfect yourself because common cold and flu viruses can’t live long outside of your body, and you’ll develop antibodies to a virus after you’ve been sick.

One thing that I can’t seem to find information for though is the possibility of mutation. According to WHO Influenza viruses will continuously change through a process called antigenic drift.

So that leads me to personally believe that if you are sick and use your makeup, or have used your makeup right before getting sick, sure the chances are slim to none that you could reinfect yourself but there still is a chance though mutation, and if the timing were just right…or in the case wrong you could get sick again and therefore it might be best to toss the product.

What makeup products should you throw away after being sick?

Lip Products
Lip products are the first to consider tossing when you’ve been sick. Your lips are the entry point to the respiratory tract. So applying a contaminated lip product after getting sick could potentially make you ill again permitted the timing.

Eye Makeup
Eye products would be the second makeup category to consider saying goodbye to after you’ve been sick. If you’ve applied eye products while you had an illness, especially pink eye, there’s a chance you could get an eye infection since they may be contaminated.

How to sanitize your makeup if you just can’t let go.

If you feel like gambling and don’t want to toss your makeup after being sick, you can try to sanitize your makeup, keep in mind that whether it’s Flu season or not, it’s essential to clean and sanitize your cosmetics, makeup bag, and clean your brushes often. Now, grab a spray bottle and fill it with some isopropyl alcohol to get started.

If you can’t let go of your favorite gluten free lipstick, you can start by chopping off the tip of the product. Our very own Jay Harper has said before that it’s a good idea to chop bits off and store them in cosmetic containers; that way you don’t contaminate the whole tube. A cosmetic spatula works perfect for this.

In general, an excellent way to keep your tube lip products sanitized is to wipe off the top layer with a tissue. Then twist the tube up all the way, stick the product in a cup of rubbing alcohol to submerge it for at least 30 seconds fully and then let air dry.

Lip Gloss
The best way to keep your glosses germ free is by using a disposable applicator. A less wasteful way to keep the tubes clean though would be to spritz the wand with rubbing alcohol and then wipe it off before inserting the wand back into the container.

Lip Liner & Eyeliner
With your liners, you can again spray them down with rubbing alcohol and wiped clean. Then use your sharpener to remove the top layer of the product.

Eyeshadows often get neglected, but if you’ve ever touched them with your hands, used dirty makeup brushes, or if you cough or sneeze on them, you most definitely want to clean them up.

To clean your eyeshadows, start by wiping off the top layer of the shadows. Then spray them quickly with rubbing alcohol and let them dry.

When it comes to mascara, it may be best practice to toss after being sick since the eyes are delicate. That said, good sanitary practices are to use disposable wands or wipe clean each time before you replace the wand back in the mascara tube.

One thing I started doing since developing ocular rosacea is I have a couple of extra mascara wands from older tubes that I have saved, and I clean them between use and then that way the wand in my mascara can always stay clean. It’s a little over the top but has worked well for me.

Now that we’ve gone over all the nitty-gritty details of makeup during flu season. I’m curious to know how often do you clean your makeup and makeup tools? No shame either because let’s be real; we’ve all skipped a brush cleaning here and there.


  1. Excellent article about flu-proofing your beauty routine; thanks so much! I recently had the flu, too, and it truly is no joke. 🙁 Unfortunately, even though I tossed and replaced the RAL lip products I used while sick, I still keep experiencing mini relapses. I did some research and discovered that one is still considered contagious until about a week after the last day of illness. This sort of delicate timing can be a little hard to gage (and pricey); hopefully most of us don’t have to be this cautious. Still, I’m starting to think I should just stick with one lipstick for the remaining month as an extra measure of caution.

    1. Ashley Teague says:

      Glad you found this helpful, but sorry to hear you got the flu too 🙁 Yikes! I heard that, as well. I had some symptoms come back after I used my toothbrush. Hindsight, this was a total duh moment for me lol. I’m going through my makeup today. I’ve been mostly makeup-free since being sick, and I think I’m in the clear now, so it seems like a good time to toss and check expiration dates.

      1. Right, we can’t forget to replace those germy toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes! Going makeup-free, when sick, certainly makes the most sense. A touch of lipstick probably isn’t worth it, all things considered. Not only can it cause a possible relapse, lipstick is quite impractical when sneezing, coughing, and all those other delightful “sick” activities. Keep feeling better, Ashley!

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