Beauty Hygiene Tips: How to Make Your Routine More Sanitary

This is everything you should keep in mind before touching your face.

How to make Beauty routine sanitary
Photo: Charday Penn/Getty Images

Remember back in the day when life was normal, and you didn't spend every minute thinking about which germs and viruses were crawling all over the place? Sigh, same. But, you know, now that we're currently living in the real life remake of Contagion, many of us are understandably so focused on cleaning everything new that's coming into our homes, that we may forget about what's already there — or on us.

With our beauty routines being one of the most intimate parts of our day, I'd say it's more vital than ever to make sure we're being as sanitary as possible before we dip into our day and nighttime products. That's why we tapped Connecticut-based dermatologist Dr. Mona Gohara to give us some tips, so we can all feel a little better about the few times a day when we actually get to touch our face.

Wash Your Hands

This is a pretty obvious one, and it should always be done before touching your face, but that doesn't mean that your hands have to turn into sandpaper in the process. Dr. Gohara suggests using a gentle cleanser while washing your hands for at least 20 seconds. "Harsh cleansers strip the protective skin's nutrients leaving the barrier weak and less able to do its job," she says (i.e. be your body's first line of defense against bacteria).

After you're done, the derm says to apply a rich moisturizer like Dove's Cream Oil Intensive Body Lotion, or just regular Vaseline. However, you may want to wait until the end of your routine to avoid getting certain oils on your face.

Avoid Reusing Towels — Especially for Your Hands and Face

"Your eyes, mouth, and nose are susceptible to virus transmission, and hands pass the germs. So separate towels are best," Dr. Gohara shares. "There is variable data about how long germs live on towels, but they certainly are still there in the amount of time you would use them to wash your hands and face during a day or nighttime routine. Many people are surprised when I tell them that it just takes minutes to transmit [a virus] — not days, hours, or weeks."

As for washing your towels, Tide scientist Jennifer Ahoni says that if there's no suspected exposure to COVID-19, towels should be washed in warm water (80 degrees Fahrenheit or higher) with the appropriate dose of a high quality laundry detergent. However, if there is suspicion of exposure, or if there has been a confirmed case, there are a few steps that need to be taken into consideration. Ahoni suggests first using disposable gloves to handle the towels, and to be careful not to shake the laundry as it's being inserted into the wash. "Launder items according to the manufacturer's instructions, use the warmest appropriate water setting and dry items completely," she says, adding that it's OK to mix an ill person's laundry with someone who is COVID-19 negative. "Once you're done, clean and disinfect clothes hampers." Afterwards, make sure to remove the gloves and wash your hands with soap and water.

Avoid Wearing Rings and Other Accessories

"I recommend keeping it simple during these times, and removing jewelry all together," Dr. Gohara says. "A recent study showed that coronavirus can live up to four hours on copper, which is in a lot of jewelry, and up to three days on stainless steel," which causes the potential for viral transmission. However, the physician does add that if you've been wearing rings or any other type of accessory this whole time, there's no need to panic — just make sure to regularly clean whatever you're wearing. "A standard jewelry cleaner or a gentle cleanser with water will do just fine," she explains.

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Try to Keep Your Nails Short

Can long nails spread germs? The long and short answer is yes. But if being able to finally grow out your nails is one of your small joys of quarantine, Dr. Gohara says to just make sure to incorporate your nails into your hand washing routine. "An easy way to clean the nails is to simulate that you are scratching your palms once the cleanser has created suds," she suggests. "This ensures that the cleanser cleans under your nail."

Keep Your Hair Tied Back — and Use Less Haircare Products

Sorry to be that girl, but while wearing your hair up may seem obvious, you should also try to keep the number of styling products you use to a minimum as well. "Products such as mousse and dry shampoo can leave the hair extra susceptible to holding onto viruses, because they are usually sticky substances," the MD explains.

As for why you should wear your hair up, "All it takes is a second where your hair comes in contact with a virus and then touches your face or mouth," she says. But if you're tired of your plain ponytail or bun, take some inspiration from Jada Pinkett Smith, who used a denim shirt to create a headwrap this past November.

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