Coronavirus and make-up brush hygiene: What you need to know

As news reaches us that all Estee Lauder Companies brands (which include Estee Lauder, M.A.C., Bobbi Brown, and Clinique) have stopped any hands-on contact with customer faces at beauty counters, and with other brands expected to swiftly follow suit (if they haven’t already) we thought it was a good time to look at best practice for our own use of make-up brushes as we all look to avoid helping to spread coronavirus.

Coronavirus make-up brushes
Getty Images

So we consulted YOU Magazine’s own Dr Clare Bailey who agrees this is not the time for on-counter makeovers. ‘I would assume that if someone happens to have the coronavirus, and as many as 50 per cent of cases could have few if any symptoms, any direct contact, particularly around the face, will contaminate the brushes and their handles (as well as lipstick and the container surface). Cold and flu viruses may remain on surfaces for several hours or more, or even for over 24 hours. So this is likely to apply to cosmetics too.’

So what to do? ‘If you’re are serious about reducing the risk them make-up brushes need to be dipped or sprayed, including the handle, in over 60 per cent alcohol after every use,’ Dr Bailey recommends though this is more for commercial environments. When it comes to our own brushes at home she things ‘it’s a matter of washing your face with mild soap and water before applying or removing make-up. I’m not so worried about individual make-up brushes and materials in that case. The most important thing is not to be touching or rubbing your face – especially eyes, nose and mouth.’

B. Antibacterial Brush Cleaning Spray

B. Antibacterial Brush Cleaning Spray, £2.99, Superdrug

If you prefer to be more rigours then it could be worth looking at what make-up artists do. One –who remains anonymous as they don’t rely on their employer’s official brush cleaner – certainly confirms that they follow a practice similar to that recommended by Bailey. ‘I’ve been using actual IPA alcohol 70 per cent either on a tissue or dipping the brush in completely and letting it dry (it’s pretty quick). Personally, I’d go for failsafe rather than relying on commercial brush cleaners,’ they said. There are a lot of options – though some sold out – on Amazon. Or for a similar approach Superdrug’s B. Antibacterial Brush Cleaning Spray (£2.99; contains Isopropyl Alcohol (also known as IPA).

beauty blender cleanser

Liquid Blendercleanser, £24, Selfridges

Alternatively, for general brush cleanliness (akin to the regular and thorough washing of hands) make-up artist Ruby Hammer says her brush cleanser of choice is ‘the liquid cleanser from Beauty Blender and I have a spray one (currently NYX On The Spot make-up brush cleaner spray, £9, if I need it immediately.’ Neither of these cleansers claims to be anti-bacterial. She recommends that after washing you leave brushes to air dry on a tissue.

NYX On The Spot make-up brush cleaner spray

On The Spot Make-up Brush Cleaner Spray, £9, NYX Cosmetics

For a really thorough clean you could try the StylPro Make-Up Brush Cleaner and Dryer (£39.99; You simply attach your brush to a device, lower it into the accompanying bowl you have pre-filled with cleaning fluid (£8.99 for 150ml), turn it on and a centrifugal force will spin the brush for a thorough clean. Then keep the brush in the bowl but raise it out of the liquid and leave it to continue spinning for a quick dry. The cleaner is not anti-bacterial but this system is a super simple– and fast – way to keeping brushes super clean.

StylPro Original Make Up Brush Cleaner and DryerStylPro Original Make Up Brush Cleaner and Dryer, £39.99, Lookfantastic

And, of course, this is definitely not the time to be applying your make-up on any form of public transport – whether with brushes or your fingers. Restrict your beauty routine to your own bathroom for now. As Dr Bailey puts it when it comes to public transport ‘in general touch as little as you can – including make-up. If using it regularly, you could wear gloves like the queen and wash them frequently.’

Feature by Edwina Ings-Chambers