We Asked A Doc: Is It Bad To Apply Makeup With Your Fingers?

August 10, 2016 by Lisa Fogarty
shefinds | beauty

Makeup brushes and sponges are nifty, but we all know that, when we’re in a jam or watching our budget, our fingers can do an efficient job at applying and blending foundation, blush, highlighter and eyeshadow. But just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should, right? We’ve been hearing–oh, since we were toddlers–that we should keep our hands away from our faces, both for sanitary reasons and to keep acne at bay. But can that rule be broken for just a few minutes a day in order to apply our makeup?

“It is okay to touch your face when performing your skincare regimens,” says Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse. “Face serums, moisturizers, sunscreens and primers are easily applied with the fingers. If you have a jar, rather than a pump, make sure that your fingers are clean before dipping in.”

Be still our hearts. Not only is it okay to use our fingers for makeup application, but Shainhouse says certain products are best applied with our hands. “Foundations, concealers and BB/CC creams may look super-smooth when applied with a brush, sponge or blender, but those tools accumulate pore-clogging makeup, natural skin grease, yeast and bacteria, which can trigger acne and/or spread skin infections,” Shainhouse says. “When possible, use a pump version and apply it to the tool, which is then applied to the skin. Wash powder brushes every few weeks with brush cleansing sprays or diluted shampoo. Wash sponges and blenders weekly with diluted shampoo or face soap. You may absolutely apply make up with clean hands. Try not to double-dip into a creamy compact, though.”

There is, however, one exception–and it has nothing to with pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads, believe it or not. Dr. David E. Bank, founder and director of The Center For Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery says your hands shouldn’t only be squeaky clean before you use them for makeup, but they should also be free of abrasions or cuts.

“Besides makeup not going on smoothly, you can expose any broken skin to the makeup causing irritation and possible infection,” Bank says. “As long as hands are clean and the fingers are free of abrasions and cuts, you should be okay to apply your make up this way.  The best way, no matter the formulation, is to use a suitable applicator (either a brush, sponge or puff)  to ensure an even application.”

For more beauty tips, check out the correct order to apply your makeup and the 6 makeup mirrors beauty diehards swear by.

Follow me at @lisacfogarty on Twitter.


Lisa Fogarty is a lifestyle writer and reporter based in New York who covers health, wellness, relationships, sex, beauty, and parenting.

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