Forget date nights in crowded restaurants, roses that wilt a few days later, anonymous greeting cards and boxes of overpriced chocolates. Why? Because this Valentine’s Day, it’s time to reserve all the lovey-dovey vibes for your cosmetics and beauty tools. After all, this is one relationship that will give you back tenfold this month, providing better coverage, long-lasting finishes, and perfect results when you give it some attention.
Convinced? Get cosy with your beauty kit this Valentine’s Day with our top tips for caring for your cosmetics…
1 Storage rules
‘Your make-up needs to be stored in a cool, dry environment, not on a bathroom shelf where the warm, damp air will destroy it,’ advises New York-based celebrity make-up artist Maria Verel. ‘And never let your make-up melt in a beach bag or hot car, as the emulsification will break down, and the product won’t have that luscious consistency.’
Leaving your make-up in warm conditions will spread bacteria too, and that is bad news for your skin, threatening skin irritation, breakouts and infections. The bathroom is the worst offender, but also consider whether your storage space is bathed in sunlight for some portion of the day. If so, move it to a shady place or pull the blinds down when you leave the room every morning.
On the flip side, the cold isn’t ideal either – so reconsider storing those cosmetics in your refrigerator. While the cold temperatures won’t damage the active ingredients in your cosmetics, they can definitely affect the consistency. When the mercury dips, the oils used in some cosmetics may separate and you will be left with a puddle of oil at the bottom and lumpy solids elsewhere.
Finally, make sure those lids are airtight! You wouldn’t leave food uncovered and expect it to last, so treat your cosmetics and creams with the same respect.
‘If you’ve got products with lids, handle them with clean hands and put their lids back on tightly right after using them,’ says Aakriti Kochar, one of India’s most successful make-up artists. ‘This won’t allow air or dust into your products, thus keeping them bacteria-free.’
2 Keep it clean
It isn’t just your cosmetics that can breed bacteria, but your tools too – and washing brushes and sponges regularly is a must.
Brushes that are clean perform better too, explains celebrity make-up artist Brigitte Reiss-Andersen. ‘Dirty brushes tend not to distribute powders properly because of the yucky build-up.
‘I never use water [to clean them though] because it makes them smell terrible. It also makes the bristle loose, which leads to the brush falling apart over time – and wooden handles don’t like getting wet either. Use a cleanser specifically designed for cleaning brushes and pour just enough into a glass to cover the bristle. Dip the brush into the solution and move it around to help it dissolve the dirt. Then, place the brush on a paper towel, squeeze thoroughly, and let it dry on the towel. I prefer squeezing rather than rubbing because it’s gentler for the brushes, and they will last longer. After about 30 minutes, the cleanser evaporates, and what you have is a perfectly clean, dry brush.’
Make-up sponges deserve the same treatment, so show them some love by washing quickly after every use. This will not only prevent the spread of bacteria, but also ensure they work flawlessly every time. A mild shampoo works well for this. Once squeaky clean, allow the sponges to air dry.
And don’t forget the make-up bag. ‘Make-up bags can get really mucky, so pop them in the wash every few months to keep them as bacteria-free as possible,’ advises Bobbi Brown’s pro artist, Hannah Martin. ‘In between washes, you can turn them inside out and give them a once over with a face wipe for a refresh.’
3 Find and replace
Just like food, every beauty product has a best-before date – and knowing when to throw out the old and replace with the new makes a huge difference to efficiency.
‘Water-based products like foundations, concealers and cream blushes use well-tested preservatives to keep them fresh, giving them a shelf life of at least a year,’ explains Lynne Sanders, co-founder of A La Carte London. ‘Powders last even longer as bacteria don’t breed as easily in dry conditions, but make sure you keep the sponge clean.
‘Lip products are usually wax-based and contain little or no water, which means they have a longer shelf-life. But like wax crayons, they can develop an odour after a couple of years, so keep an eye on them and replace them whenever the consistency changes.’
What about mascara? UK-based beauty expert Nadira V Persaud warns that we should change it often. ‘Mascara is often the product that we hold on to for the longest time, but it should be used up quickly, as the pumping action of the wand forces bacteria into the tube, which then thrives in the moist, wet environment.’
If in doubt, Maria recommends a sniff test. ‘It is the best way to know if something is past its prime,’ she says.
‘If you get a hint of anything funny in a lipstick or creamy product, throw it out. The same goes for nail polish and foundation that remain separated after you’ve shaken them.’
4 Get sharp
It’s amazing how many of us continue to use a blunt pencil to line our eyes and lips every morning, forgetting that a sharp pencil provides much better results.
With softer pencils crumbling when sharpened, however, it’s tempting to put it off. But beauty YouTuber Michelle Phan, who has a staggering 7.5 million followers worldwide, has a great tip. ‘Next time you run into this problem, don’t trash the liner (or sharpener) for that matter. Instead, stick your eye pencil in the refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes. There’s no set amount of time to do this, but you do need to give it enough time to harden a bit. Then, take it out, sharpen, and voilà! No more crumbling and breaking pencils.’
5 Get organised
The bigger your make-up collection grows, the more likely it is to become cluttered and disorganised. When that happens, you are less likely to dive in and find something new, so you stick to what you know and use the same combination of products over and over again. New formulae are forgotten, while old ones are applied when their formulae are well past their best.
One of the easiest ways to show love for our cosmetics collection is to spend some time organising it. ‘Organise your make-up by type and colour in clear plastic trays,’ advises beauty expert and celebrity make-up artist Sue Devitt. ‘These should be shallow, like the kind used for silverware. Place what you use every day at the front and products you use only for evening – something sparkly, for example – at the back.’
Unless they have a clear lid, store coloured cosmetics like lipsticks, glosses, blushes and shadows upside down so you can read the label underneath and locate them quickly. Avoid stacking things on top of each other in drawers, which will make it hard to locate what you want.
Brushes are best stored upside down after washing them, allowing them to dry naturally while keeping the perfect shape. The ideal way to do this is to invest in a brush tree, which will ensure they keep their perfect shape and work efficiently.
Finally, make it your mission to edit your collection every six months, throwing away mascaras that are older than your last sort and giving all your tools a good clean before putting them back in the drawers. After all, every relationship needs an overhaul every now and again – and the benefits are well worth the effort.