10/19/2012 09:03 am ET Updated Dec 04, 2015

How To Keep Germs At Bay And Flu-Proof Your Makeup Bag (PHOTOS)

Whenever one of my girlfriends asks to borrow my red lipstick or liquid eyeliner, I usually give them this crazy side eye as if they've lost their mind. It's not that I'm against sharing my beauty wealth, but I'm absolutely not up for sharing any germs, especially now that flu season is upon us.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has read or watched those news reports on the not-so-pretty side of the makeup counter. By the time the salesgirl has finished giving you a mini makeover, you're likely to walk away with...well, much more than a few new beauty products. So, what's stopping the bacteria fest from spilling over into your makeup bag? Nothing at all.

With flu season officially in full swing, we've asked Make Up For Ever New York studio manager Janis Marino and YouBeauty wellness adviser Dr. Beth Ricanati for their tips on how keep our beauty products, brushes and bags germ-free. And keep scrolling down to shop chic cosmetic cases if you want a fresh start!

Think like a makeup artist
Ninety-nine percent alcohol, hand sanitizer and antibacterial brush cleanser are always stocked in Marino's kit. These essential makeup artists' tools are ones that everyone should use to clean off the top of your lipsticks. A pencil sharpener is also handy as it's the quickest and most efficient way to keep your brow, eye and lip pencils sanitized. Sharpening with each use also guarantees a fresh tip, an added bonus, says Marino.

When updating your makeup bag with your daily must-haves (or nighttime beauty needs), Dr. Ricanati recommends starting with a clean surface to transfer everything. Clean the bag thoroughly (inside and out) using anti-bacterial wipes or baby shampoo, allow to dry and replace the contents. If you use makeup brushes, be sure to wash them several times a month; at the very least, when they are visibly dirty.

This is also the perfect time to take stock of what you actually use. No point in keeping products that you don't use, and this will lessen the likelihood of holding onto something too long, adds Dr. Ricanati. To minimize bacterial growth, store everything in a cool, dry place. But if something looks discolored, toss it!

Not sharing is caring
Both pros wave the red flag on sharing makeup, especially lipstick, gloss and balm as the mouth is the quickest way to spread germs. Not to mention the mixed use of brushes: lip brushes should only be used on the lips, and the same goes for eyes, warns Marino. And Dr. Ricanati points out how your mascara wand is extremely dangerous because it carries bacteria with every swipe and can easily be transmitted between people. So be sure to replace your favorite lash lengthener every three months.

Consider making the switch to plastic
Marino prefers plastic over canvas cosmetic cases as powders and dyes latch on to the material, and start to look quite filthy. Plastic makeup bags can be easily cleaned with a wet wipe making them look as new as when you first got them.

Don't ignore that sore
New facial rashes, including small bumps and red acne patches, should never get overlooked, according to Dr. Ricanati. See a physician if you recognize any physical changes in your skin as it could be a sure sign of germs picked up from makeup. Keeping your hands clean is another great way to cut down on the spread of infections.

Have you ever gotten sick from makeup? How often do you clean your makeup bag? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section.

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