6 Nasty Infections You Can Get From Makeup


These beauties need to be taken care of. (Photo: Getty Images)

When we think of makeup we usually picture flawless skin, lengthy, mascara-tipped eyelashes, and a glowing, gorgeous boost. Thankfully, makeup does its job most of the time, however if you’re not mindful, your makeup can lead to harrowing infections, leaving you with burned or irritated skin.

Most of these infections are due to the use of expired makeup that has been kept long past their allowed time. “The main problem with old makeup products is that they can decompose and the preservatives can expire,” NYC-based dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman tells Yahoo Health. “The chemicals can separate and begin to harbor bacteria, causing problems with the skin.” So, before any of these painful illnesses can latch on to you, toss that ancient tube of lipstick and crusty mascara before it’s too late!

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Bacterial Conjunctivitis

Pink eye (aka conjunctivitis) is a highly contagious infection that’s easily passed on via sharing mascara with others. Never. Ever. Share. Makeup. Since the mascara tube is a wet, dark place, it’s the perfect breeding ground for this kind of bacteria to grow. Dr. Jaliman agrees, all it can take is one swipe along your lashes for the infection to take hold. “Sharing mascara with a friend that has pink eye can lead to the eye infection called conjunctivitis,” says Dr. Jaliman. If you begin showing signs of a red, itchy eye with discharge, head to your doctor for prescription eye drops.

Staph Infection

One of the less common (but seriously scary) infections that can be transferred from makeup products is Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermis. Recently, an Australian woman was even paralyzed after contracting Staph infection from borrowing a makeup brush from a friend, making it important to note that not only makeup, but also makeup application tools should be kept clean and thrown out after about a year’s use.

Related: 8 Tricks For Wearing Mascara When You Have Sensitive Eyes


If you’ve ever had the misfortune of contracting a stye in your eyelid, you know how painful and clearly visible they are. A stye is a pimple or abscess that has formed within the eyelid from a bacteria-blocked oil duct. Contaminated mascara or eye shadow can cause the inflammation, so be sure to read the expiration date before applying.


Hives, burns or rashes are common symptoms of an allergic reaction if the skin comes in contact with old, bacteria-infested makeup. According to Dr. Jaliman, “Your makeup is irritating your skin if your it starts to burn, peel, itch or turn red.” Thankfully, a red skin irritation can be treated with OTC Hydrocortisone, but Dr. Jaliman reiterates that a dermatologist must treat all skin infections, otherwise you risk the condition worsening.

Related: This is What Happens When You Fall Asleep With Your Makeup On


It’s common knowledge that it’s best to avoid sharing makeup with friends, but we’ve all been guilty of this at one point or another. However, I doubt many of us would be passing along our lip products if we knew how high the risk of cold sores are. “If you share lipstick with a friend and they have the herpes virus, even without an active outbreak, you can still get a herpes infection.” Although this can be treated with Valtrex, a prescription oral medication, it’s best to avoid it all together by only using your own lipsticks and glosses. Again: Never. Ever. Share. Makeup.


Since acne develops when the pores become blocked by oil, dead skin and bacteria, it’s a no-brainer that blemishes can pop up when germ-filled makeup is applied, especially when it comes to “wet” makeup like foundation or primers. Keep an eye on the expiration date and make sure to cleanse your skin of makeup thoroughly every night to avoid any cystic acne breakouts.

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