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Cotton swabs: 6 amazing ways you never thought of using them

Most of us keep a stash of cotton swabs in the bathroom to clean our ears. But did you know you’re not supposed to put cotton swabs inside your ear canal? It says so on the box, actually. Sticking cotton swabs in your ears can cause infections, hearing loss, and a bunch of painful injuries. This is because they push earwax farther inside the ear canal, which is the opposite of what you’re trying to do. So instead of jamming them into your ears, try the following clever ways to use cotton swabs you never thought of.

Clean up a wing eyeliner mistake with a cotton swab

No need to start all over again if you accidentally drew a squiggly line instead of a straight wing. Even a makeup pro with the most skilled, and steadiest of hands know all about the shaky hand struggle.

Just take a deep breath, because there’s nothing a little bit of lotion can’t fix.

Dip one end of the cotton swab in micellar water, makeup remover or whatever lotion you have at home — make sure it’s safe to use around your eyes — and clean up any shaky line irregularities to get a precise cat-eye wing.

Use cotton swabs to fix broken makeup products

Is there a more soul-crushing moment than when your favorite eye shadow palette, highlighter, or blush slips from your hands and gets shattered into pieces? Well, the good news is you don’t need to throw away your damaged goods.

  1. Lightly spray some alcohol over the crushed product
  2. Gently tap it with a cotton swab until the powder becomes a smooth and creamy paste.
  3. Use the swab to clean up the corners and edges of the broken powder and gently press it.
  4. Let the product dry for at least 3 hours before using it.

Bonus tip

If your powder, eye shadow, or blush broke into big chunky pieces, smash them into smaller ones by using a pencil or pen. A finely milled powder is easier to put back together if it doesn’t have any clumps.

Dip a cotton swab in eye shadow to touch up overgrown roots

If you’re stuck between salon visits and you need to touch up your roots at home, try this quick trick that will buy you some time.

Swipe a cotton swab and dip it in an eye shadow that blends with your hair color. If you have lighter hair, you can try face powder too. Run it over your outgrown roots (or pretty much wherever you like to part your hair) and you’re all set.

Use cotton swabs to fix mascara mistakes

Makeup mess-ups happen to the best of us. And they happen often. Whether you’re running crazy late or you accidentally sneezed and smeared mascara all over your lids, you probably don’t have the time to wipe away your whole face and start from scratch.

  1. If you smeared mascara on your lids, wait for the smudge to dry. Otherwise, you risk making a big fat mess and erasing your eye shadow altogether.
  2. Once the smudge is dry, check for black clumps and flakes and scrape them off if there are any.
  3. Grab a cotton swab and dab it in a bit of micellar water or makeup remover (but don’t soak it in too much).
  4. Place the cotton swab over the smudge and twirl without rubbing to clean the area.
  5. Apply eye shadow again to fix your mascara “oopsie” and voila.

Free a stuck zipper with a cotton swab

Is the zipper on your makeup bag jammed? Simply reach for a cotton swab (again) and dip it in some olive oil, lip balm, petroleum jelly, shampoo or soap and rub it along the “stuck” part of the zipper. This will help loosen it up almost immediately.

Use cotton swabs to highlight the inner corners of your eyes and center of your nose

Use a cotton swab to apply highlighter on the inner corners of your eyes and make them instantly pop.

For an all-over glow, use the same trick to apply highlighter on the top of the arch of your brows, cheekbones, and clavicles.

Want a smaller and more defined nose? Dip the cotton swab on some concealer or highlighter and apply it along the center of your nose.

How about instantly fuller lips? Get more definition by lightly tracing your cupid’s bow and smudging some highlighter on the center of your lower lips. It’ll surprise you how much fuller and plumper they’ll look without having to step inside a derm’s office.

Bonus tip

Don’t know what to do with the half-used swab? Cut it in half and store it in a Ziploc bag. But if you don’t want to have a single-ended cotton swab lost inside your makeup bag, use the other end to create an effortless smokey eye look. Smudge some black eye shadow with a cotton swab on your bottom lid and above your eyelashes following the cat-eye shape.