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7 Ways You’re Unknowingly Spreading Bacteria on Your Face

Woman touching her eyes in front of mirror

Sick of dealing with random breakouts and blemishes?

For some people, no matter how hard they try, they just cannot seem to put a stop to this.

Well, there could actually be quite a simple reason behind this…

As you know, in order to keep your skin clear and healthy, you need to protect it from bacteria. However, there are numerous ways in which people end up spreading bacteria all over their face, without even realizing it!

Here are seven surprising ways in which you may be encouraging bacterial growth on your skin, along with a few top tips on how you can stop this from happening.

Your Cellphone

Have a think about the many different surfaces that your cellphone comes into contact with each and every day.

Each of those surfaces, from tables and chairs to handbags and pockets, carry so much bacteria, all of which adheres to your cellphone each time your phone touches those surfaces.

In fact, research has found that the average cellphone contains ten times more bacteria than most of the toilet seats out there. 

Needless to say, that is not something you want touching your face multiple times a day!

Don’t worry, this does not mean that you need to stop using your phone…

There are a few steps that you can take to minimize the spread of bacteria from your phone to your face, such as:

  • Wiping your phone down with antibacterial wipes or a microfiber cloth a couple of times a day
  • For a deeper clean, try mixing some water with rubbing alcohol. Dip a cloth into this and gently swipe it across your phone
  • Avoid taking your phone into places that are rife with bacteria, such as the bathroom

Wiping an e-tablet with a microfiber cloth

So long as you take a few additional measures when it comes to keeping your phone clean, this will prevent a significant amount of bacteria from spreading onto your face each day.

Touching Your Face

How many times a day do you touch your face?

This is something that many people do multiple times a day, and it really is not doing your skin any good.


Because your hands are likely to be even dirtier than your cellphone. They can hold so many different germs and bacterial strains, none of which you want on your face.

In addition to containing their own germs, touching your face causes you to spread your skin’s sebum over more areas of your skin. This ends up clogging up your pores even more, while adding oil to the areas that do not usually experience breakouts.

Touching or picking an actual pimple makes things even worse…

This means that you are touching the bacteria that has caused the pimple in the first place, and spreading it around. Picking at a pimple causes that bacteria to delve even deeper into the skin, which can lead to even more problems in the long term.

Can’t seem to stop touching your face?

This can sometimes be a difficult habit to break, especially if it is something that you have been doing for a while.

The key is to consciously realize each time that you are touching your face. Try to be more aware of what your hands are doing, and constantly remind yourself to keep them away from your face.

If your hands are always wandering back to your face, try occupying them with another activity instead. Floss your teeth, strike a yoga pose, write something down – anything that keeps them away from your face!

One other thing that can help is ensuring that your hands are always kept as clean as possible.

This way, when you do touch your face, there is not much bacteria being transferred over.

Yes, you may frequently wash your hands, but a recent study has found that around 97% of the population do not wash their hands properly, meaning that all of the bacteria you think you are washing away has really gone nowhere. 

You are now probably wondering what the correct way to wash your hands is…

Here are the steps to follow:

  • Fully wet your hands with running water
  • Remove your hands from the water and apply a soap, lathering this up well. Pay attention to all of the nooks and crannies in your hand, from the spaces behind your fingers to underneath your nails
  • After lathering, you need to spend at least 20 seconds giving your hands a good scrub
  • Rinse your hands once more under running water

Try to always apply a moisturizer or hand cream immediately after you are done with that final step, preferably while your hands are still damp. This will keep the skin on your hands moisturized and protected, as the skin here can often suffer due to frequent hand-washing.

Dirty Towels

How often do you wash your towels?

It can sometimes be tempting to wait just that day or two longer before adding them to your pile of laundry, but this is something that could really be causing problems for your face.

How come?

Because towels, due to their frequent dampness and dark folds, quickly become a thriving bacterial breeding ground. They can also harbor quite a bit of mold, which is something else you do not want on your face.

Each time you use a dirty towel, all of that bacteria ends up on your face. You may have just spent ages cleansing your skin only to add all of that bacteria back onto it.

So, how often should you be washing your towels?

Ideally, after every three uses. You should also ensure that you are allowing the towel to dry out completely in between uses

Make sure that you pay attention to the products you are using when washing your towels too…

You need something that is powerful enough to destroy all of the bacteria, but not too harsh that it causes the towel to irritate your skin. It may take some trial and error to find a product that works for you, but the effort is definitely worth it.

Contaminated Cosmetics

People use skin care products to improve the health and appearance of their skin.

However, when these products are contaminated with bacteria, the opposite will often happen instead.

What causes skin care products to become contaminated with bacteria?

Your hands are usually the prime suspect, along with products in a jar-type container. This means that you need to touch the product each time you want to apply it to your face, causing the bacteria on your fingers to spread in the jar.

Woman dipping a finger into a jar of moisturizer

Simply opening up the lid of that product also exposes it to all of the bacteria in the air around it, with this increasing the longer you leave the product open for.

Wondering how you can save your cosmetics from contamination?

If possible, go for products with a pump-style dispenser instead of jar-style containers. Each time you squeeze some out, your fingers will only touch the small bit of product you are about to use, rather than the entirety of it.

You should also make sure that your hands have been thoroughly cleansed before you apply any cosmetics to your face. Take the time to do this properly, following the instructions mentioned earlier.

Unclean Makeup Brushes

Regular makeup users are likely to be using their makeup brushes each and every day.

These brushes can quickly become contaminated with bacteria from a number of sources, including:

  • The makeup products themselves
  • The surfaces that the brushes are placed on
  • Your skin
  • The air around them

Studies have found that when left unwashed for a month, the average makeup brush held more bacteria than what could actually be measured.

So, how often should you be cleaning your makeup brushes?

Well, it all depends on how much you use them. Ideally, you should be giving them a quick clean after each use, and then a deeper clean every couple of weeks.

Wondering what the deep clean involves?

It’s simple – just wet the bristles of your brush and place a gentle soap in the palm of your hand. Massage the bristles into your palm, taking care to be gentle. Then, rinse those bristles out, squeeze away any excess moisture with a dry towel, and then use your fingers to re-shape the brush.

Dry your brushes correctly by placing them over the edge of a counter. You do not want those bristles to be touching any sort of surface while they are drying, as this will only encourage bacterial growth once again. 

Make sure that you do actually use a gentle soap when cleaning your makeup brushes, or even a dedicated brush cleaner. Anything too harsh can damage the bristles on your makeup brushes by drying them out, with this being all the more likely if your brushes have natural bristles.

Hair Habits

Do you have long hair, or even just long bangs?

If so, you need to be especially mindful of how often you wash your hair.


Because, as you likely already know, your scalp produces sebum. This sebum slowly makes its way down each strand of hair, until it eventually reaches the ends. Along the way, it picks up bacteria and dirt, carrying this along with it.

Each time your strands touch your face, all of that bacteria ends up swiping over your skin, clogging up your pores and triggering breakouts.

This happens during the day, but even more so at night…

When you are sleeping, your hair presses against your face, transferring even more bacteria over.

How often should you be washing your hair?

It depends on your hair type…

If your hair is quite dry, do not wash it more than twice a week. However, oily hair may need to be washed almost every day.

Of course, you do not want to be over-washing your hair either, as that can lead to its own set of issues.

Instead, try keeping your hair loosely tied or braided back in between washes, especially before you go to bed.

Dirty Pillowcases

Even if you keep your hair tied back while you sleep, your face is still in danger of coming into contact with bacteria from another source…

You may not think that your pillowcase is dirty, but the oil and bacteria from your skin will build up on the fabric of your pillowcase each time you use it. The more you use your pillowcase, the bigger this build-up gets, with a large portion of this moving back over from the pillowcase onto your skin each night.

Don’t worry, there are a few things you can do to prevent all of this from happening…

The first, and most obvious, is to regularly clean your pillowcases.

How often should you be washing your pillowcases?

Usually, every three days or so. However, if your skin is especially oily, you may find it beneficial to wash your pillowcase each day.

Yes, this rule still applies even if you always cleanse your skin before going to bed. There will still be some oil and bacteria remaining on it, not to mention the oil that will build up as you sleep.

On those days when you do not wash your pillowcase…

You could consider purchasing an antibacterial pillow spray.

What does this do?

You simply spritz it onto your pillow each night to clear away some of the bacteria that has built up on it. Many of the sprays are also infused with calming essential oils, giving you a more restful sleep.

The fabric that your pillowcase is made from makes a difference too…

Although all fabrics will absorb oil and bacteria to a certain extent, some do this more than others. Silk or satin tend to be the best bet, while cotton, microfiber and bamboo all experience a higher amount of bacteria. 

Satin pillowcases

As an added bonus, a silk or satin pillowcase will also help to prevent fine lines and wrinkles.

Many people try to do the best they can when it comes to keeping the skin on their face healthy, making it a shame when they unknowingly end up spreading bacteria. However, now that you know more about the unexpected ways in which bacteria can end up on the face, you are well-equipped to take the steps necessary to prevent this from happening in the future.

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