From sanitizing after the subway to sneezing into our arms and not our hands, most of us are careful to keep ourselves as germ-free as possible during the day—but we could be losing some ground in our daily beauty routines. We talked with Mona Gohara, M.D., a dermatologist in Danbury, Connecticut, to get the dirt on our yuckiest beauty practices, and to help us clean up our acts.
Wash Your Makeup Brushes
If you still haven’t jumped on the brush-washing bandwagon, this might change your mind: “What is on your face—oil, dirt, pollutants, bacteria—is on your brush,” says Gohara. “You don’t want to keep swirling all of those things around your skin. You wash your face daily, and you should wash your brushes daily too.” According to Gohara, you should wash your brushes after every use, but if you’re short on time, aim for at least every two weeks.
Hands Off Your Face
Before you apply makeup with your fingers or lather up your hands to wash your face, you might want to grab an extra bottle of sanitizer. “If you cultured the skin under your fingernails and on your hands, you would be horrified,” says Gohara. They harbor bacteria, viruses and fungus, all of which can transfer to your face when they come in contact with your fingers. Think of yourself as a restaurant employee and give your hands a good scrub before spreading on your products.
Let Go of Your Loofah
If you left a damp T-shirt in the bathroom overnight you probably wouldn’t be inclined to pick it up with more than your fingertips, let alone rub it all over your body—but that’s essentially what you’re doing with your favorite loofah. “They have a lot of little holes that, in combination with a wet, moist shower, breed little microbes,” says Gohara. “Change it every two months or else you are setting your skin up to be a petri dish.”
Move Your Toothbrush
If you keep your toothbrush by the sink, chances are you also keep it by the toilet. “Whenever the toilet flushes, it sprays onto every nearby surface, including your toothbrush,” says Gohara. If possible, move your toothbrush holder to a higher surface, or move it out of your bathroom altogether—and don’t forget to leave the lid down.