Sanitation 101: A guide for clients, Makeup Artists, and sales reps / by stacie thomas

Hello everyone! Personally I have heard and seen one too many sanitation horror stories from multi-million dollar companies refusing to provide disposables in their studio, to heavily soiled brushes being used on clients, to beauty influencers gluing their cold sores before application... It's time for Sanitation 101! This is for clients to have to know what to look for, makeup artists as a refresher, hobbyists, and cosmetics sales reps as well. 

So why is sanitation such a big deal? Well let me ask if you would sleep in a hotel room that wasn't cleaned prior to you using it? Think about it... a professional's kit comes into contact with up to hundreds of faces yearly. Furthermore each makeup application comes into contact with the tear ducts, dead lip skin, saliva, tears, dead skin cells, etc. Improper sanitation causes anything from acne, pink eye, the common cold, flu, cold sores, hepatitis and so on.

 This blog is Mr Yuk approved, plague free zone.   

This blog is Mr Yuk approved, plague free zone.


Prospective clients: I will show you the tools & practices to look for. Scroll down to Vetting Your Artist for the key points.

Makeup Artists: It is our responsibility as professionals to keep it clean! In the heat of the moment it can be easy to get sloppy however resist the urge to cut corners for speed. I have products recommendations and tricks that can help keep the speed up without sacrificing sanitation.

70% Isopropyl Alcohol

70% Isopropyl Alcohol is used to sanitize products, tools, the work surface, and the entire kit including every product after the service is complete. For lipsticks in tubes or any cream stick makeup the product should be sprayed with 70% alcohol then wiped down with tissue before being scooped with a sanitary spatula onto a palette. Brush handles should also be wiped down with this or a Clorox Wipe before being deep cleaned. 70% is more effective than 90% since the latter evaporates too quickly to be as efficient at killing bacteria. 

Clients: Look for this in a labeled spray bottle.

Makeup Artist: Label it so no one sprays it on their face thinking it's water. 

Palette & Spatula

Cream foundation, lipsticks, blushes, and flash colors are a breeding ground for bacteria due to their dark, warm moist atmospheres. One finger dipped in a concealer palette or one double dip renders the entire palette contaminated and must be thrown away. Never dip a brush directly into cream makeup then redip. 

Proper sanitation requires scooping with a clean spatula or disposable then applying to a palette. Spatulas can be stainless steel, sprayed with alcohol then wiped down between each color. Palettes can be stainless steel, if I'm pressed for time I love palette paper  or disposable spatulas to save time cleaning a metal palette, simply toss the used paper. Love the warmth of your hand but want to minimize skin contact? Try tegaderm film  as a replacement for the discontinued Glamcor palettes. 

Brush Care

Objective- Protect the investment and keep it a clean fight. 

Spot Cleaning

 The cleanser of all brush cleansers!

The cleanser of all brush cleansers!

1) Spot Cleaning is what is done between using different colors and clients. KEY POINT- bristles must be saturated with brush cleanser before wiping it down. A cute little spray won't cut it, saturate those bristles even if it means pouring a small amount of cleanser into a shallow pool & dunking them. 

My favorite brush cleanser which was recommended to me by the one & only Candace Sheppard of Model Misfit is Brush Off. Imagine if Cinema Secrets and Parian Spirit had a baby... the dry time of Cinema Secrets with the conditioning properties of Parian Spirit minus that crazy strong scent. Uh, I'll have what she's having! Thank you Candace.

Deep Cleaning

2) Deep Cleaning- First Spot clean, wipe the handles down with a Clorox wipe or alcohol, then clean with your soap of choice. An optional step is to soak your bristles in a bath of tea tree oil & baking soda for additional antibacterial and deodorizing properties (another great tip from Candace). I enjoy a solid soap such as London Brush Company since it has oils to condition the bristles while also being being very effective at cleaning, even Beauty Blenders or Blenderfuls come clean with ease. (Hint- I will be offering a certain makeup artist favorite must have soon...) Be sure to rinse extra well to ensure no makeup is clinging to soap remnants. 

Brush Organization

Never mix clean & dirty brushes- I use a MUFE Pouch for my clean brushes and a REI collapsible cup for my used brushes. Helps greatly with timing while maintaining control of my workspace to avoid touching a clients face with an unclean brush. 

Disposable Applicators

Lip wands, mascara spoolies, qtips, and wedge sponges. Just remember disposables are like a chip, never double dip. If a wand comes into contact with lips or lashes then back into the tube/ palette the entire tube is contaminated and must be discarded.

Clients: If an "artist" doesn't have any disposables- walk away. This is a serious error and your health is at risk from being in contact with mucous membranes.

Makeup Artists: , we all know the drill. For licensed professionals The Industry Source is excellent for sundries as well. 


Powders do not harbor bacteria and have the longest shelf life of all cosmetics. All they require is either a mist of 70% isopropyl alcohol or removing a top layer by gently rubbing the top layer with tissue. Some artists like to scrape their eyeshadows onto a clean tissue before applying so their brushes don't directly contact the pan or when wetting a shadow.

Vetting Your Artist's Sanitation Methods

So you might be wondering "Stacie that's good and all but how do I know my makeup artist does all these things before I book them? What if I'm in the chair when I notice things aren't right?". Well here's what you do before & during your service.

1) Ask about their methods- Ask your prospective artist for a picture of their standard workstation. Ask them what they use for sanitation & their process. If their station before appears haphazard and you don't see the sanitation tools, choose someone else. Professionals take pride in their presentation where budget artists and hobbyists tend to cut corners in several areas, especially sanitation since replenishing is frequent expense. Any makeup artist will be able to state without hesitation the details of their sanitation process which I described above.

2) If unsure or someone else booked the artist, bring your personal makeup bag or at least mascara and lip color.

3) During service- See something funky? Do whatever it takes to have that person NOT touch your face with their kit. Walk away, pretend you feel a cold sore a-coming, say your dog ate your credit card....

If you are hesitant of causing conflict: have your own personal makeup kit with you and say that you only want your own makeup used. 

Afterwards, send them a link to this blog, because getting sued up the wazoo for being a dirty bird isn't on anyone's bucket list. 

Thank you all for reading, sanitation isn't an exciting topic but everyone needs to be on the same page with staying safe. With that I leave you to the musical stylings of Andree 3000.

Like, Comment & Share my Pretties!