Do You Really Have to Toss Your Makeup After You’ve Been Sick?

broken powder makeup and brush

After a cold or flu, should you toss your cosmetics?

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We’re in the midst of flu season and if you’re anything like us, you’re ducking and dodging every cough or sneeze in a 15-foot radius. While this obviously isn’t guaranteed to keep you healthy, you may encounter a few pesky germs that your system can’t fight. Once you’ve been on short-term bed rest, chugged OJ and Theraflu and your body begins to recover, you’ll likely want to sterilize all of your belongings — but what about your cosmetics?

You may have heard friends suggest you toss that brand-new designer eyeshadow palette to rid yourself of germs, but unless you’re rolling in dough, this just isn’t a feasible option. We asked top dermatologists if it’s possible to reuse cosmetics without the fear of getting a relapse.

How Sick Are You?

There’s a major difference between a common cold and the flu. They require different medications, precautions and even recovery times. Just as the illnesses are different, we must take different precautions to avoid a lingering or recurring infection. While it is possible to catch a new strain of the common cold, the good news is, it is unlikely that you would catch the same virus again. “Because the body develops antibodies to a cold virus after you are infected, it is unlikely that you will reinfect yourself,” says New York City dermatologist Dr. Michelle Henry.

If you’re dealing with a serious ailment like the flu or an infection, you may consider taking more serious actions to ensure you aren’t infected with additional bacteria or germs.

Which Products Are Infected?

Just because you’re battling a cough or sore throat doesn’t mean you have to say adios to all of your makeup goodies. “Consider discarding products that come into direct contact with the infected area,” shares Houston board-certified dermatologist Dr. Suneel Chilukuri. For example, if you’re facing a common cold, there is no need to discard eye makeup. In the same regard, if you’ve been infected with viral conjunctivitis, better known as pink eye, tossing mascaras and eyeliners is a good idea to avoid further infection.

To Replace or to Sanitize?

Throwing away perfectly good product can be a hard task to swallow. Luckily, there are a few solutions that may not cause you to completely toss your makeup before it’s emptied. If you prefer to sanitize your product, Henry suggests using alcohol or antiseptic wipes and sprays for products like lipstick, eyeshadow, bottles and jars. For makeup that has applicators inside of the formulas, like mascara and eyeliner, try using disposable wands and brushes until the product is finished.

All in all, there’s no need to freak about revisiting old germs. If you’re a germaphobe (like us) and still feeling skeptical, opt for using disposable brushes and wands while you are infected to protect the original packaging and formula of your favorite products. And remember, don’t share any products with friends or family to decrease your chances of getting additional germs and bacteria on your cosmetics.

[ Next: 6 Beauty Products You Should Never Use Past the Expiration Date ]