My eyeshadows betrayed me with pinkeye: How you can avoid my fate

Guest post by Leslie Neal

By: Courtney RhodesCC BY 2.0
I wear a lot of eye makeup. And when I say a lot, I mean that I could probably wear a different color eyeshadow every day for a whole year. I’m not new to the eye makeup game, so you can imagine my surprise when I got visited by a nasty bout of pink eye, especially when nobody around me had it.

If you’ve never had pinkeye before, it’s AWFUL. I mean, laying in bed crying because nothing makes the pain go away awful. The internet just said to rub my eye with a warm cloth, but it didn’t help. I could hardly open my eye, and even succumbing to vampire-levels of darkness didn’t make it any better.

At first I blamed my brushes, which I admittedly hadn’t washed in a long time. So, I cleaned them all up and waited for the pinkeye to pass. After I felt it was safe, I went right back to my eyeshadow and GOT PINKEYE IN MY OTHER EYE. How, especially after having deep-cleaned my brushes, could I getting pinkeye AGAIN?!

Then it dawned on me: My eyeshadows themselves had to be the culprit. But they were pressed powder… Powder doesn’t house bacteria, right? But it had to be, so what could I do? The internet told me to throw them away, but I couldn’t do that. These were limited edition palettes from last year! I couldn’t just throw them away. There had to be something else I could do to save them.

And the answer, my friends, is isopropyl alcohol. Glorious, wonderful isopropyl alcohol. I took Wayne Goss‘s sage advice and got some 91% isopropyl alcohol, slapped it in one of my old spray bottles, and sprayed the bejeezus out of my palettes. All of them, for good measure. I even sprayed my eyeliner pens. I took NO CHANCES.

At first I despaired, because the collection of alcohol on the plastic parts of my palette made it look like I soaked the thing in liquid, and I feared that I had ruined them after all. I wiped the plastic parts of my palettes with a tissue (they were covered in shadow and dirty-looking anyway) But they were completely dry in like one minute! I was back to using them in no time!

And, just like that, my pinkeye woes were over. My right eye never even developed into full-blown pinkeye like the other eye had, that’s how quickly I shut the bacteria down!

Quick, everyone, spray the bejeezus out of ALL your makeup products! I don’t know why I didn’t know this before! Also, clean your brushes weekly (daily, if you can manage it) — I highly recommend using Daiso.

Clean brushes means happy faces and eyeballs!

Comments on My eyeshadows betrayed me with pinkeye: How you can avoid my fate

      • Once the infected wand has gone into the tube, there’s no saving mascara. The product is thick and ready to teem with your bacteria. There are things you could theoretically add to the mascara to disinfect it, but most of those products aren’t eye-safe and even if they where, they would dilute the mascara, making it more or less useless.

        You CAN, however, sanitize your wand if–for some reason–you need to use mascara while you have an eye infection or you need to share with someone else. Just wipe it with iso on a paper towel until the wand seems to be clean, then let dry completely before re-inserting into the tube. DO NOT insert the wand into the tube (ey-oh) between eyes or to double coat, because that renders the entire process useless. (The ideal is just to use disposable lash wands.)
        Another tip: this process can also be used if you just really, really love a particular wand and want to use it with different mascaras in the future. Just clean it completely when you remove it from its original tube for the last time, then clean it after every use (I’m guessing this wand won’t screw onto the new tube properly. Again, ey-ohhhh.)

        • I’ve started using a fully round eyebrow brush for my mascara (the one that looks like a mascara brush) because I like how full the bristles are, so I clean it like this after every use. I also clean all of my brushes after every use, which does make them get brittle fast, but it my brushes also don’t get caked with makeup so I figure it evens out.

  1. This is also great for broken/uneven powders! If you want to fix or smoothe your shadows, just saturate it with a few drops of iso–you don’t want it swimming, but you do want it wet. You can either crumble it all up or just start manipulating it with a knife or my highly unscientific method of wrapping a (sterilized) coin in a paper towel and pushing down. Let it dry overnight and it should be good to go.

  2. Yes! I’ve converted a looooot of loose eyeshadow samples into pressed palettes using good ol’ isopropyl. It makes such a mess, though! I have a pile of Shiro Cosmetics’s Hunger Games collection baggies just sitting by my TV waiting to get some isopropyl love.

    • Thanks for mentioning Shiro Cosmetics…I had never heard of them before and promptly spent an hour looking at all the colors…THE COLORS!!!!!

  3. Yup, this is how we clean testers in cosmetics retail! It’s not a bad idea to occasionally spray down your lipsticks, blush, etc, too. They can also harbor bacteria that can cause breakouts, infections, etc. AND, should a powder product break, you can use alcohol to damp it and press it back into its pan/compact. It’ll be almost good as new!

    PS, about mascara: you wanna replace mascara every three to six months, though I know people who do it every month. This is both because it dries out and collects bacteria. But! If you have a wand you really love, keep it and scrub it off really well. You can use it with other mascaras if you want, or as a lash or brow comb.

    • What is this mascara sorcery you speak offfff? Who am I kidding, I’ll never wear mascara. My contacts and blue eyes say “NAY, WE WILL REJECT ANYTHING YOU PUT NEAR US. Except eyeshadow and eyeliner. We like that. BUT WE WILL MAKE YOU CRY OUT ALL MASCARA EVER. Or make you look like you’re wearing spiderlegs.”

    • I have a mascara problem, in that I only wear it about once every two months on average (I only wear makeup on stage, because I can’t be bothered but I have really stupid pale and straight eyelashes that I hate) and I have two containers of this mascara that isn’t made anymore that I just love. They’re really old (few years) but they’re probably only half empty and they don’t make the brand/color anymore 🙁

      • The problem is that even with older mascara that hasn’t been opened- it can “turn”. You can sniff test mascara- does it have an earthy/ slightly nutty smell or dirt fragrance? Chances are it has gone bad. Best bet is to mark the tube with a dated post-it note taped on it when you bought it and be vigilant for sign of the product being “off”.

  4. I didn’t even know I was supposed to clean my brushes! I thought it was just something you do when you feel like it, not an actual thing that adults do for valid reasons. Why didn’t anyone tell me?!

    • You’re not alone, I had no idea either.

      Also, did you know that most synthetic pillows are washable? Because no one told me. I popped those suckers in the washer/dryer and they have WAY FEWER DROOL STAINS.

      • Kellbot, keeper of magic pillow washing magic, do you know if memory foam can go in the wash?

        Girl who’s going to wash a buttload of pillows tonight!

        • You can’t put it into a washing machine, but you can take it outside, vacuum it, and spray it down with febreeze or a diluted solution of one part laundry detergent to two or three parts water. And then sponge/rub that off with a towel and then let it sit in the sun until it’s dry.

          Sun more than anything will help eliminate weird smells or bacteria/mold.

    • Ach! Clean alll the brushesss!

      And, like kellbot, you should be washing your pillows tooo! They give you acne with their treacherous oil and bacteria harboring fibers! Unless you’re one of those people who never get acne.

      • I will clean the brushes! Luckily, I am one of those people who never get acne. And the last time I tried to wash a pillow it turned into a big lumpy mess. We bought new pillows the next day. I should try again!

          • Tennis balls is how my pillows got lumpy 🙁 If you only put two pillows in, carefully molded to the outside of the washer drum and with their ends pressed against each other, they move around a little bit to agitate but don’t get lumpy in the washer; then I dry them individually in the dryer because they don’t dry right with two in there.

      • This!! I was one of those people who NEVER got acne and suddenly I was breaking out like a 16 year old! Those pillows get washed tomorrow!

  5. you can clean makeup brushes with witch hazel which is far less drying than isopropyl alcohol and this will extend the life of your brushes.

    I do however keep a spray bottle of iso alcohol on hand for cleaning many many things. it dissolves ink and is wonderful for cleaning leather – just be sure to moisturize thoroughly after.

    when washing pillows or anything I am concerned about face/body oils, I include ammonia in the wash. it’s inexpensive, effective on oils, and you can reduce the amount of laundry detergent used. my skin is quite oily so with my pillows and white pillow slips, I wash first with ammonia and hot water and then again with a bit of bleach.

    • THANK YOU for the witch hazel tip… I was just complained about my brushes getting brittle in another comment. Do you know if it actually disinfects as well as the alcohol?

      • I do know witch hazel disinfects, even just by itself. I also have never seen any products sold as “witch hazel” that aren’t mostly isopropyl. I’m not sure how witch hazel being drying in every other application would mean it’s less drying (as itself) for brushes, but maybe less drying than straight isopropyl.

      • I mainly clean my brushes with Dr Bronner’s soap. I’m not entirely sure how well it disinfects them, but it does clean all of the make up out of it really well. I then spray them lightly with alcohol at the end. I have a blog post fully explaining it but I don’t want to get in trouble for pimping my website – I am a real commenter too.

  6. I’d recommend using 70% isopropyl alcohol, not 91%. 70% evaporates slower, allowing the alcohol to penetrate more bacteria than 91% can.

    Source: I work in an infectious diseases lab, where we disinfect everything using 70% isopropyl alcohol and 70% ethanol.

      • I was also going to say what Alyssa said, but I know more about bacteria than I do makeup, so I didn’t realize this! Clearly I need to up my scienceglam.

      • I’ve never had this issue, and I’ve frequently seen 70% recommended ’round the ‘net, but I can see how saturating the makeup in it can ruin it. I spray a light layer onto the shadows for maintenance, I have never saturated anything with it. I’ve definitely used 91% for pressing broken shadows back together, since the evaporation rate is better and I’m not as concerned about bacteria when I’m crying over the potential loss of an eyeshadow!

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