Cosmetic sanitation and hygiene is the single most important aspect of our job as professional makeup artists. Ensuring cosmetics are adequately cleaned and used in a way that prevents cross-contamination is imperative to avoid the accumulation of bacteria that can in turn be transferred to the skin, eyes or mouth resulting in infections or contact dermatitis. Choosing an artist who is well educated on the sanitary use of products should be of the utmost priority. In this post we will discuss what to look out for when choosing a makeup artist for your event or wedding, and the risks that come with poor hygienic practice.
1) General Hygienic Practices
The very first thing your artist should do before even starting your makeup application is wash their hands. Our hands will be in contact with your skin, and as a precaution, they need to be washed. The second thing you should observe is your artist using hand sanitizer. Do not let an artist touch your skin without first sanitizing their hands. Another tip that often goes under the radar, is to be on the lookout for long nails. While long nails or acrylic nails are aesthetically pleasing, they need extra hygienic care. If your artist has long nails, ensure they are washing their hands with a nail brush. Bacteria and debris easily collects underneath of nails, and manual cleaning under the nail is warranted.
Often overlooked, brush hygiene is just as important as washing your hands. The brushes will be touching your face, after all. Do not be afraid to ask your artist how their brushes are kept clean. Ideally, your artist should have a separate set of brushes for each client, and do a full wash and dry with soap in between uses. However, many artists prefer the use of instant brush cleaners. Brush cleaners are used on brushes in between clients, so the same brush may be used if more than one person is booked. While this is not the ideal method, if the right brush cleaner is used (one with antibacterial properties), it can be moderately effective. Of course, washing with soap and water and laying out to dry is the best way to ensure clean brushes.
3) Powder Products
Proper sanitization of powder products is of great debate in the professional beauty community, and opinions will vary greatly. Powder makeup can not harbour bacteria in the same way that cream makeup can, but it can still hold on to some on the surface. Your artist should utilize the use of rubbing alcohol to lightly mist the powder product before and/or after applying. This will assist in eradicating any bacteria laying on the surface of the powder. Going back to point 2 regarding brushes, having clean brushes will also ensure there is no cross contamination into the powder product. Generally speaking, 70% rubbing alcohol is the most effective for powder products, as it is able to make good contact with the product before evaporating.
4) Cream/Liquid Products
Extra care needs to be taken when applying cream, wax, gel, or liquid products. Bacteria is easily harboured in these types of formulations and transferred, potentially resulting in avoidable infections like pink eye or cold sores. Products like mascara, lipstick, gel eyeliners, cream bronzers, skincare, and cream eyeshadows fall under this category. Mascara and lipglosses should never be applied straight from the tube. Always ensure your artist is using a disposable mascara wand, lipgloss wand or a fan brush to apply mascara/lipgloss, and make sure they do not double dip with the disposable wand. If using a fan brush, the mascara should first be scraped onto a clean metal or plastic palette, then the decanted product may then be used with a brush. Never allow a makeup artist to go near your eyes or lips with the wand included with the product. This is one of the most common ways to contract pink eye or cold sores. Lipstick should never be applied straight from the tube, either. The lipstick should be scraped off and placed onto a clean metal or plastic palette, then applied with a lip brush. Never let an artist go near your lips with a lipstick tube, this is one of the most common ways to contract a cold sore. Gel eyeliners, cream eyeshadows, cream bronzers and blushes, and skincare products should be scraped and placed onto a palette as well. The use of disposable manicure sticks or clean metal spatulas are a common method to extract cream product hygienically. Never allow a makeup artist to dip their brush straight into a cream product and apply to your face. Always ensure they are first removing some of the cream product with a clean spatula or a manicure stick first.
Let's summarize the basics of what to watch out for!
Washing hands, using sanitizer, and scrubbing long nails
Using separate brush sets for each client, OR thoroughly cleaning with an antibacterial brush cleaner
Misting powder products with 70% rubbing alcohol before/after use
Decanting and/or using disposable wands to apply cream products, WITHOUT double dipping
Never be afraid to ask your artist how they sanitize and keep their products clean. It is much better to be safe than sorry! If you feel uncomfortable with the way your artist is handling hygiene, do not feel ashamed to ask them to stop services. Your health and safety should be your number one priority.