Now that diligent handwashing, wiping down surfaces and wearing masks are no-brainers when it comes to protecting ourselves from unwanted bacteria, I’m personally very ready to take my germaphobia to the next level with my beauty routine. In all seriousness, sanitizing your beauty tools is something we should all be doing — COVID or no COVID. While there are some products like your makeup brushes, jade rollers and gua sha tools that might be easier to wash once a week when’s the last time you really thought about sanitizing your hairdryer and hairbrushes? In our book, anything you touch in your beauty routine is a fair game to breeding germs.
Furthermore, it turns what you do wash off with good ol’ soap and water might not be enough to kill off all the germs. “Using soap is very effective because the soap contains surfactants, which are substances that lift oil and microbes from the tools. It doesn’t directly kill germs — it removes and reduces the number of germs. For it to be the most effective, the water needs to be very hot because bacteria can thrive at up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit,” says Robyn Gmyrek, M.D. board-certified dermatologist at Park View Laser Dermatology. So unless you’re wearing gloves to withstand the heat, chances are most people aren’t using water that’s hot enough to make a difference.
Plus, it takes a long time for some of your tools like your makeup brushes to fully dry before you use them (and if you don’t try them properly, mold and bacteria could build up again). You also don’t want to take your chances trying to sanitize any of your electrical-based items (like your hair dryer or curling iron) with liquids.
A more reliable bet? Ultraviolet (UV) light. “UV light is a particularly good option for sanitation because it kills bacteria without toxic chemicals,” says Gmyrek. “The types of ultraviolet rays are UVA, UVB and UVC. UVC is the most efficient (it has the highest amount of energy) at destroying pathogens that cause diseases. It is commonly used in hospitals and medical offices because they aren’t too expensive and they won’t damage your tools that you’re trying to sterilize the way soap and other liquids might,” she says. So, if you want a safe, easy way to clean beauty tools, look to these handy UV light-based options that do the job right.
FYI: If you’re not familiar with nanometer (nm) readings, UV light covers a wavelength spectrum from 100 to 380 nm and is subdivided into three regions by wavelength: UVA (320 to 400 nm), UVB (280 to 320 nm), and UVC (200 to 280 nm) with UVC having the strongest germicidal effect, according to the American Society of Microbiology.
We only recommend products we have independently researched, tested, and loved. If you purchase a product found through our links, Sunday Edit may earn an affiliate commission.