5 Essential Hygiene Rules Makeup Artists Learn on Day One

Did you know bacteria from makeup brushes can cause infection and loss of vision?

In this article I list basic industry rules regarding hygiene that makeup artists learn on day one of training. You don’t need to be a makeup lover or aspiring makeup artist to find this useful. If you use makeup then this article is relevant to you.

First, makeup hygiene is important. Because you know, VISION.

Second, if someone is ever applying your makeup, be it friend or professional, you want to be sure things are being done correctly because again, VISION.

On board? Here are five basic hygiene rules makeup artists learn on day one.

1. Use clean brushes for every new client

Imagine this. You are at a restaurant and have just ordered a delicious feast. You sit in excited anticipation until you see your waiter pick up used cutlery from another table and set it in front of you. What are you thinking? WTF? YUCK! Is this guy for reals? Oh HELLLLL NOOOOO. You’re going to have words with this waiter or straight up leave because that shit is unacceptable.

In the makeup industry, the equivalent of reusing dirty forks is reusing makeup brushes. You want both to be clean before they come near your precious face.

One of the first rules a makeup artist will learn is that brushes and tools must be sterilised after every use.

Professional makeup artists will usually sterilise their brushes between clients or if it’s a busy day they will have a few sets of clean brushes ready to go.

For personal application, you can follow this standard by spraying your brushes with brush cleaner after use and washing brushes properly at least once a week with shampoo and conditioner.

You don’t need spend a zillion dollars on brush cleaner. e.l.f Cosmetics sells a Daily Brush Cleanser you can find for $8 in Kmart. Steriliser can also be bought in bulk. Makeup supply stores like Scotty’s Make-up and Beauty sell brush steriliser by the litre for about $25. In terms of shampoo and conditioner. Any product can technically be used, just ensure it has no silicone. Baby shampoo is a safe, inexpensive option.

To wash a makeup brush wet the brush, rub in the cleaning agent and rinse.  Dry brushes on the edge of a bench or on a drying rack. Do not stand them upright to dry as the water will not evaporate properly. Do not blow dry your brushes! This will cause split ends.

I used the fork analogy so you wouldn’t question why a clean brush would be important but if it’s still a lingering thought allow me avail you with these buzz words: bacteria, germs, contagion, disease, blindness, leper colonies…

2. Do not use products straight from their container, scoop or pour them out first

You know those metal palettes makeup artists use? They are called mixing palettes and while they are handy for a variety of reasons, one main reason is hygiene. You will never see a makeup artist put a brush right up to a bottle of foundation to get product. You will (or should) never see them dip their finger into a pot of concealer. You might see them use a spatula to put said concealer onto a palette and then use their finger, but the actual pot will be uncompromised.

There are two things to know here. One, the wetter the product the more bacteria it will breed. Yes our beloved cream blushes, concealers, lipstick and liquid foundations are bacterial breeding grounds.

Two, the closer you get to the nose, eyes and lips, the higher the chance of picking up or spreading bacteria. Be cautious around orifices (LOL).

At home I pour foundation onto the back of my hand before applying it to my face. When I use something like gel eyeliner I will use a brush to put product on the back of my hand. If I need more product, I’ll use the brush to scoop more out.

You can also keep products in better condition working this way. Gel liners dry out if you leave them open too long. By scooping product out you can close the pot immediately and keep the liner in workable condition. You’re also less likely to accidentally leave your foundation bottle open all day if you pour product out and close it straight away.

3. Use disposable mascara wands and never double dip

Make up artists use disposal mascara wands for reasons that should now be quite clear. Disposable wands should only be dipped into a tube of mascara BEFORE they have been sullied by someone’s eye juice.

Double dipping a mascara wand is worse than double dipping a half-bitten fry into a communal sauce bowl. NEW FRY EVERY TIME PEOPLE.

Obviously this doesn’t apply to personal mascara or your own supply of fries and sauce.

4. Sharpen pencils before every use

Sharpening a pencil with a clean sharpener will effectively clean it. Professionals are expected to do this before every use. If you don’t fancy sharpening your personal pencils everyday, aim to do so a few times a week and always do so before and after someone else uses your products. It’s all about keeping our vision people.

5. DO NOT BLOW onto product, brushes or faces

Another way to word this would be: do not transmit bodily fluid.

Blowing on a product, brush or face (or anything else–LOL) will spread germs. At home many of us tend to blow on brushes to get rid of excess product. In a professional setting, or even if you are just doing a friend’s makeup, this is a huge no-no.

Tap brushes to get rid of excess product and for the love of god if you are applying makeup to someone else and need a cotton bud DO NOT LICK IT, use water or makeup remover or any other dampening agent that is not secreted from your humble self.

Since learning this, I stopped blowing on my brushes at home and have become accustomed to tapping off product. I still lick my own cotton buds, but if my own saliva can’t go on my own face then where can it go? Don’t answer that.

So there you have it, the 5 cardinal rules of makeup hygiene. It is worth noting that I got through high school with my vision in tact despite the rampant sharing of mascara and eyeliner and flagrant violation of other hygiene rules. I’ve shared lipstick in seedy bar bathrooms and survived but if I had the option between something clean and something dirty you know I am choosing the former.

Wouldn’t you rather use clean products? The experience is better all round. For instance, that crusty foundation brush you’ve never washed? Give it a clean and take note of how much better it applies your product. The same goes for other beauty tools. Blending with a dirty eyeshadow brush will not give the same result as blending with a clean one and it is much easier to fill in brows with a sharp pencil.

If you have more insider knowledge or your own makeup hygiene tips to share, please do!



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