“I’m a germaphobe! Is it safe to hire a makeup artist?”
I started off the year with a set of Beauty Resolutions to help keep your skin healthy and avoid spreading infection. As a follow up, I wanted to outline what professional makeup artists do to keep their kits clean and their clients healthy:
- HAND SANITIZER: Artists should wash their hands or use a hand sanitizer between clients, since touching the face is usually a necessity during makeup applications. (My personal favorite sanitizer is Jao, because in addition to sanitizing effectively, it smells wonderful!)
- BRUSHES: All non-disposable brushes (especially eye and lip brushes) should be thoroughly sanitized between clients. Most pro artists carry a fast-drying brush cleanser on jobs so they can quickly clean brushes that need to be used again. I swirl my brushes in an agitator bottle and then wipe them off on a paper towel, repeating until they wipe clean. In addition, brushes are thoroughly shampooed and deep cleaned between jobs.
- CREAMS: Cream-based products, such as gel eyeliners and lipsticks, are best applied from a separate palette. Most artists will carry a stainless steel, plastic, or disposable surface from which to work. Cream products are scraped out of their container and onto the palette for application. This way the brush can be reloaded after touching the face, without contaminating the original container of product. (Note: since cream products often apply best after being warmed up, some artists work off of the back of their hands – this is a common practice and acceptable if the artist uses hand sanitizer.)
- LIQUIDS: Liquid products, such as foundation and lipgloss, should be dispensed onto the palette prior to application. Since many consumer products are sold in tubes with a built-in applicator, this step prevents contaminants from getting into the product itself. Once on the palette, they can be applied cleanly. (Tubed lipgloss can also be applied with a disposable wand, without dipping back into the tube once the wand has touched the client’s lips.)
- MASCARA: As outlined in the previous entry, mascara should not be applied directly from the tube unless the tube is brand-new and being used only on one client. Disposable wands and fan brushes are used instead, with no double-dipping.
- PENCILS: Eye and lip pencils are sharpened between clients and wiped down with alcohol.
- LOOSE POWDERS: Loose powders can be dispensed onto palettes or applied from the underside of the cap, which is easily wiped clean.
- PRESSED POWDERS: Eyeshadow and other kinds of pressed powders should be applied with a clean brush or applicator. Unlike creams and liquids, the dry surface of a pressed powder is a poor environment for germs, so as long as the product is kept dry and applied cleanly, direct application is acceptable. The top layer of powder should be wiped down at the end of the day so a fresh surface awaits the next client. There are also cleansers that will sanitize without marring the surface and damaging the product (Beauty So Clean is the best-known).
- FALSE LASHES: They should be brand new. False lashes are too difficult to sanitize thoroughly and, as a result, they’re not suitable to be reused on different clients.
- AIRBRUSH: Airbrush is perhaps the most sanitary application method out there, since the gun never touches the face directly. (The guns do need to be thoroughly cleaned between jobs so they don’t clog.)
What you should see: Disposable applicators. Hand sanitizer. Brush cleanser.
What you shouldn‘t see: Artists licking or blowing on brushes. The same in-tube mascara or lipgloss wand being used on everyone. Noticeably dirty brushes (natural brush hairs may be stained from use with bright pigments, but the bristles should not appear dusty or damp).
Will all artists take these or similar precautions? In the grand scheme of things, makeup poses a fairly low health risk, and therefore not every artist will be as fastidious as outlined above. But my opinion is that ANY ethical pro should eliminate unnecessary risks, and keep their makeup and their tools clean. And as a consumer, you are entitled to ask questions about artists’ practices and advocate for your health as needed.