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A New Standard in Beauty: Hygiene Takes Center Stage, Part Two

What the Pro’s Should Know About Hygienic Makeup Application

Makeup artists are celebrated for their ability to transform the faces of clients—but today, the impact of COVID-19 is transforming the way these beauty professionals work. True, sanitation has always been crucial—it was only last December that a study by the U.K.’s Aston University, highlighted in Forbes, found that nine out of 10 “opened, in-use products” were “contaminated with potentially dangerous bacteria such as E. coli and staphylococci.” Blending sponges proved to be the worst offenders; when left damp, they create the ideal environment for bacteria to multiply.

Thankfully, that study examined consumers’ products from home, not those of professional makeup artists, who follow much more stringent precautionary practices. But the fact remains: Contamination among makeup can easily run rampant without the proper sanitization and usage procedures in place—a fact that will balloon in importance in our post-COVID-19 world, where contagion can literally be a matter of life or death.

But what steps should makeup artists and professional beauty advisors take to ensure the safest of services? Devawn Testagrossa, Founder of Sanitation Conversation, shares, “The best piece of advice for practicing health-grade sanitation is to begin with making small changes that develop into atomic habits—and then atomic habits become big, permanent habits. Don’t get overwhelmed with all of the expectations that state and government regulations have mandated for reopening. Instead, break down each section of your makeup application and implement small changes.”

If you find yourself with more questions than answers, fear not: Here, we break down the basics of cosmetic cleanliness, from wearing the proper PPE to prepping and cleaning your workstation, tools and makeup.

The Basics

First things first: Start off with clean hands. Washing your hands thoroughly, followed by wearing a fresh pair of disposable gloves, will give you an added layer of protection and put your client’s mind at ease. Always be sure to replace gloves in between clients or whenever they may have been contaminated. Once the service is complete, properly discard the gloves and wash hands again. If you prefer to perform a service without wearing gloves, make sure you have plenty of hand sanitizer available.

Meanwhile, face masks and other forms of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) are now mandatory in many states. You may want to consider wearing a protective face shield in addition to a medical grade 3-ply face mask since your work requires you to be up close and personal with your clients.

Finally, a hygienic work environment is essential for safe makeup application and maintaining your tools. But keep in mind the entire setup, from top to bottom. We always recommend disinfecting your workstation in between clients with an EPA approved disinfectant, and then using a handy disposable dental bib or towel to further protect your work surface.

Cleaning Brushes

Coming Clean

By now, we all know that sanitized hands and a hygienic working environment are vital and the starting point for sanitary makeup application. But what about the actual makeup and makeup tools?

Cleaning Your Makeup Brushes

It isn’t enough anymore to simply use a brush cleaner to sanitize makeup brushes between clients. Ideally, makeup brushes (both with synthetic and natural hair) require a deep cleanse to be disinfected. When cleaning makeup brushes, it is important to use formulas that not only deeply clean, but also maintain and condition the brush hair. Nancy Crossley, International Makeup Artist and Creator of Beauty So Clean, advises, “I would caution makeup artists against using hard brush soap at this time, since it poses a risk of cross-contamination. Brush shampoo is really a professional’s safest bet to ensure a deep clean.”

Not enough time to let the brushes properly dry? Try working with disposable brushes as much as possible or having one set of makeup brushes per client to help prevent cross-contamination. It’s also helpful to set up an area where you keep your clean brushes, and then a separate area for dirty brushes so that no mistakes are accidentally made along the way.

Sanitizing Steps for your Makeup

Different makeup products require different methods of sanitization—and some types of makeup cannot be sanitized at all, in which case makeup artists should use disposable applicators. Liz Fuller, a makeup artist in the Boston area who services NBC Universal’s on-air hosts and guests, keeps Cinema Secrets® Makeup Sanitizing Spray on hand to clean a range of cosmetics. “It’s so convenient—you just wipe off the top layer and spray onto any palette or compact,” Fuller says. Nancy Crossley, of Beauty So Clean agrees, “Instead of using alcohol to sanitize makeup, I would strongly encourage using a formula like Beauty So Clean’s Cosmetic Sanitizer Mist which contains ingredients that will ensure the integrity of the product and keep it from drying out.”

Lipsticks and Lip Liners: First, wipe away the top layer of the product and then disinfect by dipping it in isopropyl alcohol for at least 30 seconds. Laura Pascazio, owner of Silhouette On Site, a hair and makeup service provider in Charleston, South Carolina, says “Most of my team opts for scraping lipstick into a paint palette box, wiping clean with alcohol or sanitizing wipes, and using disposable applicators for applying. I feel clients are more comfortable whenever we use disposable applicators.” When reaching for lip pencils, we recommend sharpening the end of your sanitized liner before each use with a disinfected sharpener that has been thoroughly soaked in a virucidal solution, such as Lucas-cide, and then wiping it down with a fresh wipe, like Beauty So Clean Makeup Sanitizing Wipes.

Cream and Gel Products: Using a metal spatula, transfer the product to a clean mixing palette, then use a fresh disposable applicator to apply on your client. No double dipping! Any formula that requires a wand applicator, such as lip gloss and mascara, cannot be sanitized, so always use a fresh disposable applicator each time you dip into the product. It is always best to cut off the wand that comes in the primary package so that you never accidentally use it on a client.

Pressed Powders and Eyeshadows: Gently wipe off the top of the surface, then spray with an alcohol-based makeup cleaner and let air-dry. Finally, Pascazio uses a powder puff on her pinky finger so her hand does not rest directly on the client’s skin. “I always get comments from clients on how much they love having the puff as a buffer from my hand,” she says.

If you have used any of your makeup tools or products on a client who has been infected by the coronavirus, we recommend disposing of them immediately. It’s better to play it safe, since there have not been enough studies done on makeup sanitizers to show their effectiveness against coronavirus.

Policies and Procedures

As so much information about COVID-19 is still being evaluated by the medical community, it’s crucial to err on the side of caution when it comes to ensuring sanitary services. “As makeup artists, we do not want to be responsible for passing anything from one client to the next,” Pascazio emphasizes. “The general public is now hyperaware of sanitary practices and will be looking closely at anyone who provides a service, to see if they have policies in place.”

To that end, Pascazio recommends that all makeup artists enroll in a program that teaches sanitation practices and receive licenses to reassure clients that they know universal methods for keeping everyone safe. Yes, you can still hit YouTube to brush up on new techniques and to expand your general makeup knowledge, but formal cosmetology education (for licensing or continuing education) offers stricter curricula and teaches key lessons about keeping products and tools clean—before you work on clients. For example, Sanitation Conversation offers science-based health-grade sanitation training specifically for makeup artists, as well as other hygiene resources, certifications and recommendations for COVID-19 safety.

Don’t simply keep your sanitation practices in mind; write them down and review them regularly, updating as necessary to keep up with new medical findings or advisories surrounding COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. “If you don’t have a sanitation policy currently in place, create one in written form so it can be emailed or recited whenever a client asks,” Pascazio suggests. “Before, we were rarely asked about a sanitation policy by clients, but I think going forward we’ll have more people interested in how we clean our tools between clients, and what we’re doing to keep them safe.” Armed with the proper tools, products and procedures, makeup artists will be able to resume their careers, all while keeping themselves and their clients safe from the spread of COVID-19.

Want to learn the ins and outs of disposables? Check out the final installment of our three-part blog on hygiene, in which we will offer up a complete overview of disposable applicators and future trends for top-level hygiene.

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