I have yet another topic to discuss, but I promise I will get back to some good old fashioned product reviews very soon! I have some great products that I would like to share with you, but this subject came up and I really wanted to tackle it!
I recently saw this image posted to Glossible (because I probably spend 90% of my free time “hanging out” in this group), shared from another makeup group, and it stopped me cold. It shows extremely dirty makeup set up, and the caption indicates that it was a client who took a photo of their “makeup artist’s” work space. Now, we all know that not every image we see online is "true". It could have been taken by somebody else, and someone found it and threw a caption on. Perhaps it wasn’t a “professional”, but just someone’s personal makeup stash that they were using on a friend. Or maybe they weren’t even using it on anybody else, and were just getting ready and someone snapped a picture. I cannot personally speak for its legitimacy, nevertheless, the picture exists and it still got us all thinking. It seems that there is an enormous lack of overall knowledge, or even caring, when it comes to sanitation in regards to makeup, and just how important it is for not only working professionals, but also for our own personal collection.
I will fully admit, when I was younger I was guilty of some of this because I didn't know better either. But with the wealth of information at our fingertips these days, it seems that people simply aren’t directing their attention to the right topics or sources. The first thing that you should understand is that your skin will absorb a lot, especially on your face. This is how you receive nutrients and hydration from moisturizers, oils, and other skincare items. Throughout the day, your pores are also collecting dirt, oil, dead skin cells, and other impurities that they are exposed to. But it isn’t just your skin that you have to worry about. Your lips are obviously the gateway to your mouth, so things that are put on the lips tend to be ingested, even just a little, as you’re eating, drinking, or even just unconsciously licking your lips. And don’t forget how sensitive eyes are, even certain pigments that are "safe" for cosmetic use contain warnings and should be kept away from this region. It is very easy for things to scratch your eyeball, cause irritation, and bring about cysts and sties. Not to mention that in some cases, these situations can cause blindness! I’m not perfect, I have accidentally gotten product in my eyes. I immediately rinsed it out of course, but at least I know that it was sanitary or else the results could have been much worse.
So let's approach this from a non pro standpoint first, assuming you're not working on clients or friends. Think about your makeup and brushes at home. Many people are lucky enough to have a vanity or space designated for makeup in their home, but many also aren’t so lucky. If you’re like a lot of people out there, you may have them sitting on the counter in your bathroom, within an undesirable proximity to your sink and/or toilet. You or someone in your household might flush the toilet with the lid open, or as you wash your hands, dirty water splashes these items without you even knowing it. When you go to apply your makeup next, you’ll pick up a product and get that layer of bacteria on your hands. If you’re like me, and you use your hands a lot when applying your makeup, then all of that gross bacteria is being transferred from your hands to your face. It gets around your eyes and mouth, and your skin drinks it in.
Even if you do store your collection away from this type of exposure, there are other ways for them to be contaminated. So perhaps you are like me, and you use your fingers a lot, but you don't wipe the products off of your fingers very well in between. As you use each product, you’ll probably end up smearing makeup on the outside of the package. Even if your face and hands are washed, there are still cells, oils, and bacteria that will get into the product. Remember, clean and sterile are completely different! Though your skin is “clean”, that doesn’t mean that there is nothing on it that can be transmitted. And you’re then leaving this on the outside of the package via your fingerprints. Each time you do this, you’ll be getting this festering pool of germs onto your hands, and leave more behind to add to it. It is a vicious cycle! Brushes are another story, these are used repeatedly, directly on your face. Every time you use them, they collect dead skin, oils, etc. from your face, on top of the makeup that you're using. This collects in the bristles, and all of that bacteria festers in there. Every time you use the brush again without washing it, you're putting all of that back onto your face, and adding even more to it. Not to mention, if you’re using someone else’s brushes, it’s their bacteria that is being applied to your face! I have seen girls talking about how they have NEVER washed their makeup brushes, and many that do definitely don’t seem to be washing them nearly often enough.
We all know that dirty makeup brushes will cause your skin to break out, but unfortunately that isn’t even the most dangerous outcome. If you look it up, there are tons of articles written about the dangers of using dirty makeup brushes. http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/beauty/makeup/a35095/dangers-of-dirty-makeup-brushes/ There was recently a story (also mentioned in the GHK article) about a woman who used her friend's makeup brushes, which had not been cleaned. She applied makeup over an open wound (a scratch, cut, scabbed blemish, or something of that nature), and received an extremely dangerous staph infection called MRSA. http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/guide/staph-infection-cellulitis http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/understanding-mrsa This woman ended up becoming paralyzed due to this infection attacking her body, and getting into her spine. This supposedly happened just from using a makeup brush! http://www.people.com/article/makeup-brush-paralyzes-australian-mother-staph-infection Though they weren’t able to say 100% that is how she got it, they did indicate that her friend had a staph infection on her face so it does seem like the likeliest option. But I've read and heard horror stories of gals getting pink eye, sties, and so much more from using cross contaminated makeup products! People really don't realize how dangerous sharing makeup can be, you can actually spread herpes this way. Herpes, guys. http://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/beauty/skin-and-makeup/bad-to-share-makeup2.htm
The best thing you can do is keep your personal makeup stash personal, and be sure that you keep it clean! Find organizers that keep the products safe from outside contamination, there are clear acrylic ones that are fairly inexpensive and quite popular. You can find them from Amazon, the Container Store, and many other places. I myself have a little bamboo desk organizer with drawers, I keep my products in there. When you're using them, make sure that you wipe them down after use. If you want to be super safe, you can do it with alcohol. But even just a wet paper towel (maybe a little soap) will make a difference. Make sure that you are washing your makeup brushes at least once a week, depending on how often you use them. I would recommend any sponges like BeautyBlenders be cleaned even more often than this. If I use sponges on myself, I wash them literally every time I use them. I wash it, rinse the living hell out of it to ensure no soap is left, and then use it damp once I have squeezed out the excess water. And no matter what anyone tells you, the life span on them is only a matter of months. When I was working at CRC, their rep told us that they should be tossed out every 4-6 months. It is better safe than sorry! The added perk to being this careful about your products is that they will perform better! A nice, clean brush or sponge is going to blend a lot better than one that is caked with product and oils.
So now, how do you think all of this affects you as a makeup artist, working on other people as a profession? I would think it would be pretty obvious, but let's get into it anyway! As a professional, it is more than just the sanitation, though that is clearly a large part of it. If your client should get any type of illness or infection, whether minor or not, you are held liable for this. If you are responsible for somebody contracting an infection that causes them to become paralyzed, do you think that you're not about to be sued? Side note: This (among other reasons) is why liability insurance is a MUST if you are working as a makeup artist. Even if you're not the one who is responsible, if there is even the tiniest possibility that you can't prove it wasn’t your doing, you can still be sued and potentially held liable. If you give them a sty, or something "minor", at the very least you're going to get a bad review. And if others read that and see that you're unsanitary with your kit, your reputation and potential clientele will be out the window. Nobody is going to hire somebody who is known for spreading viruses. If you’re the cause of them contracting pink eye or herpes, I am guessing the repercussions are going to be far greater.
Remember, disposable tools are your best friend as an artist. If you have a client who has a cold sore, don’t even chance it. Use only disposable lip brushes on them, and throw them in a garbage bag asap. Be sure that you’re being considerate of your own wellbeing as well, sanitize your hands regularly and be extremely careful when touching tools that have been exposed. Disposable mascara wands should be used every time, regardless of obvious infection, unless you’re giving the tube of mascara to the client. The people who sit down in your chair are expecting that you’re a professional, they shouldn’t be worried that they are going to contract pink eye on their wedding day. Even if they don’t realize it themselves, they are putting a lot of trust and faith in you. Be respectful of your clients, and take their wellbeing seriously.
But beyond the sanitary aspect of this, having a dirty or messy kit and workspace is also another way to make yourself just look bad. The image in question is an example, since it is supposedly from the viewpoint of a client. She is looking at this makeup artist's set up, and is obviously put off enough to take a picture and post it. And I don't blame her, if this were me and I saw this, I would not only NOT let the artist touch my face, but I would probably be giving them an earful regarding their lack of cleanliness. Even if these item aren't covered in germs galore, which I am pretty sure they are, judging from those brushes, it still *looks* bad. There is makeup smeared and crusted on every product in that picture! They are laying on towels that have product all over them, further contaminating them. If she sat down in the chair after another client/model, then all of the bacteria on these items is from someone else and is about to touch her face. The powder products seem to have been spilled, or dusted around with brushes. It is clinging to anything tacky on the surface, such as fingerprints left by hands covered in cream product. Everything on this table appears to be covered in a layer of grime. If even my personal brushes looked like these do, I would be ashamed and they would not go anywhere near my face. And just imagine how filthy the artist's hands are, from touching all of this! Remember, your hands are going to be touching your client's face. Even without the germs, you can't be going in to touch a porcelain face with bronzer all over your fingers.
Professionals should know to clean and sanitize their hands before an application, and during as needed. But when it comes to wiping down the products in their kit, some seem to consider it a gray area. Maybe they’ll wipe fingerprints and smudges off, but only if they are visible. Clearly the individual in this image doesn’t even go that far, but I digress. To avoid any potential cross contamination, myself and others prefer to clean the outside of the palettes, the handles of our brushes, etc. with wipes before they go back into our kits. This ensures that any time I remove a product from my kit, my client is seeing clean, sanitary items and not crusty fingerprints. I also like knowing that my sanitized hands won’t be sullied by picking up anything out of my kit, ensuring that my hands remain clean from start to finish. This is comforting for my client as well, since they aren’t seeing me pick up dirty product after dirty product. If you were at the dentist and saw the doctor pick up tools that had smudges, fingerprints, etc., would you feel assured? Why take your job any less seriously, considering you also have the possibility of spreading infections? Take care of your kit, and both you and your client will feel much more at ease.
Now, what about setting up your kit when you’re on a job? Obviously we’ve seen the wrong way, so let’s look at what we should be doing. When it comes to your workspace, it is important to understand how to utilize any space for a clean and organized set up. It should never look like that picture, ever. You may find yourself working off of a tiny coffee table, or you could have an enormous countertop to yourself. In some instances, you may not be provided with any surface at all! You could find yourself crammed into a small hotel room with a large bridal party, or in an itty bitty bathroom trying to maneuver around your client. Myself and many artists have even worked straight out of a car! Or perhaps you work in a salon or studio, where you have a permanent set up. There are so many different variables, and if you freelance, often times you won’t know what you’re going to be working with until you get there. I’ve shown up to shoots where I was provided with an entire makeup room, and others where they didn’t realize that I would actually need a surface to work off of (that is why portable tables/tall chairs are your other best friend, just in case). But as the professional, it is part of your job to make it work with what you’re given. We’re not always top priority, and often times are forced to work in less than desirable conditions. You can’t just tell your client that you won’t do the job because you don’t have adequate space.
But above all else, being this organized helps YOU! You won’t be freaking out trying to find that specific eyeliner that you have misplaced in your mess. Setting up and breaking down will become a million times quicker, and you’ll be able to use your time more efficiently. I have a specific order in which I set up/break down, and have a mental template that I use so that my set up is almost exactly the same every time. If I have super limited space, I work directly out of each pouch in my kit. I have these in order of operations, so that I can finish with one pouch, put it away, and pull out the next. I spend less time finding products and more time working on my model, to get them out of the chair and on set. Your clients will be impressed by your professionalism; they won’t see you frantically rifling through a pile of filthy products. They will be more likely to book with you in the future if they know that they can rely on you to get the job done quickly.
The kind folks in Glossible provided me with images of their own set ups, to help me showcase how your work space should look. As I mentioned already, that image above had been shared in the group, which of course started the conversation about kit and set up cleanliness. So I asked them to give me images of theirs, I wanted to see how these guys and gals handle different spaces when it comes to setting up their kit efficiently. And I think I ended up receiving around 100 pictures! For hours they were pouring in, and we all joined into the discussion and had so much fun looking at each other’s kits! I think that many of us learned a few things from one another, including some great new products to try. This is why I am constantly promoting this group to those that I believe will benefit from the community, I’m always learning from these amazing people!
So rather than solely concentrate on everything that’s wrong to do, I would like to give you some examples of what you should strive for. I want to present you with options, so you can see how you might be able to utilize certain spaces in the future. You’re about to get a glimpse into the professional kits of some highly skilled, experienced, and respected artists. So settle in, and get ready to be bombarded with what was lovingly referred to by one Glossibabe as “Setup Porn.”
Well, I hope that you had a chance to look through them all! This isn’t even half of the pictures I received, but just a small(ish) number of those that I thought presented great organization and showcased how clean the products are. My intention here was to make sure that I provided a sufficient range to show you that you can make it work no matter the space you are given. There is simply no excuse for letting your kit look the way this artist did.
To sum it up, there is no reason to cut corners and put your, or your client’s, heath in jeopardy. You may not want to spend the extra time cleaning all of your products at home, but it is better than the visits to the doctor, loads of antibiotics, and discomfort of infections, whether they are temporary or permanent. And when it comes to your clients, as a professional you need to hold yourself at a higher standard. Just because you see people bypassing proper sanitation, doesn’t give you any leeway. You should be doing the necessary research to ensure that you know how to keep everything in your kit protected from contamination. Don’t let your clients, or even other artists, touch anything in your kit. Not everybody will have the same standards, or understand the necessity of sanitation. Trust me, once people have worked with cheap artists who don’t practice proper cleanliness with their kit, they will be thankful to work with you.