makeup artist doing makeup

How to get your makeup done safely

Photo by Katie Lindgren Photography

Have you ever had your makeup done? Maybe for your wedding, or someone else’s, a photoshoot or class reunion.

If not, do you plan to get your makeup done in the future?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you need to keep reading to find out how to get your makeup done safely. Your health depends on it.

An unhygienic makeup application can expose you to blood borne pathogens, Covid-19, Herpes Simplex 1, Staph or MRSA.

Here is what to look for, watch for and ask for to ensure you’re receiving a safe and enjoyable makeup application.


A disinfectant such as Lysol or Clorox wipes should be used to wipe down the makeup chair handles, side trays, the work surface and any tables.

I like using Lucas-cide to do this, a hospital-grade disinfectant that kills 99.999% of bacteria in 60 seconds.

It’s also a perk to see a clean towel placed on the work surface to minimize contact with a surface that may not be fully sanitized or could easily get decontaminated.

You should also see a container of 70% alcohol, used to sanitize tools, palettes and various other implements.

The alcohol should be 70%, not 50, 90 or 99%.


Hands should be washed right before the makeup application begins. This means that after your makeup artist washes their hands, they shouldn’t touch their phone, then your face. They’ve just contaminated all over again.

I prefer Hibiclens to wash my hands as it protects against germs, fungi, bacteria for up to 24 hours.

Throughout the application, hand sanitizer should be used. I especially like to sanitize before lash and lip color application, being that I’m working near mucous membranes.

I know this may not be a popular opinion but I believe a truly sanitary makeup artist cannot have super long nails, unless they are wearing gloves during the application.

To clean long nails, a nail brush needs to be used to scrub underneath and I don’t know many makeup artists that bring that in their kit.

Double dipping

This is one of the most important areas of precaution. Double dipping is what happens when someone dips into a product, touches the applicator to the client, then dips back into the product.

This applies to gel liners, cream concealers or foundations, cream shadow pots, lipstick palettes, any product in a gel or cream format.

A brush, finger, sponge, any instrument, should not enter these products’ container, touch your face, then dip back into the product again. This creates a dangerous transfer of bacteria and gel and cream products are great environments for bacteria to grow in.

To prevent double dipping, a makeup artist should use tools like what it shown above, stainless steel palettes and spatulas. The spatula should be used to depot the product and then apply it to the palette, off of which the artist will work from.


Under no circumstances should you see a makeup artist blowing on brushes, lashes, powder palettes, nothing! There should be no respiratory particles on anything that touches you. I know that seems obvious, but if I have to say it, you can assume I’ve probably seen it happen.


Eye, brow and lip pencils should be sprayed with 70% alcohol, sharpened, then sprayed again.

nyx-slim-lip-linerIf the product is a retractable pencil, the product should be sprayed and the tip wiped away to remove the initial layer of product.

Felt tip and liquid liners, shown above, should not be used as it is not possible to sanitize them.

For gel liners, a spatula should be used to scoop out the product. Then, it should be applied to a palette which the artist will work from. A brush should never be dipped directly into a gel liner pot. Artists should be working from a palette, not the product container itself.


Makeup brushes should not appear, nor smell (I know; gag) used before they touch your face.

Brushes should be used on one client, then washed and dried properly before their next use. One brush set per client, even if the clients are related, no exceptions.

If a makeup artist drops a brush on the floor, the dropped brush should be put aside and not used again. Once the makeup service is complete, dirty brushes shouldn’t be stored alongside clean ones to prevent cross contamination.

Disposable Applicators

Below is a photo of what disposable makeup applicators look like, lip wands and spoolies. You should see these single use tools, and often, throughout the makeup application.

Mascara should never, ever be applied to your lashes, straight from the packaging’s wand, with 2 exceptions:

  • It is your personal mascara.

  • You watched the artist open a brand new tube that they intend to give you after the application.

Even so, a makeup artist shouldn’t be using your mascara, unless you specifically request it.

Lip Products

Lip gloss or liquid lipstick should never, ever, ever be applied to your mouth, straight from the packaging’s applicator wand or lipstick bullet. The “unless it’s yours” exception applies here too.

Even if a client prefers that I use one of their lip products, I usually just custom mix a color that matches it and they can touch up with their product later.

If using their product, I still sanitize it with 70% alcohol before use.

Powder Palettes

When it comes to powders products such as eyeshadow palettes, bronzers, blushes, contouring powders, etc. there are a few things to note.

While powder products like these do not tend to make for as bacteria-friendly environments, there are 3 ways for them to be used safely:

  1. The product can be scraped off onto a palette with a spatula or spoolie.

  2. The ghosting technique-a tissue is used to pick up product that the brush will then be dipped into and work from.

  3. A cosmetic sanitizing product like BeautySoClean can be sprayed on the palette after each use. This has been proven to kill Covid-19.


Sponges are one use only. Sponges cannot be fully/properly sanitized, though I do enjoy a damp beautyblender sponge.

The “unless you’re going home with it” rule applies here. If an artist prefers to work with sponges, it should be a brand new one, that either leaves with you, or enters the trash can after your application.


Strip lashes look best when they are trimmed to fit your eye shape. That trimming should be done before the lash is ever near your eye. Sharp scissors should never be near your eyeballs!

When glue is applied to the lash, it should be allowed to dry without any blowing on the lash. See aforementioned BLOWING section.

Lash tweezers and curlers should be sanitized with that 70% alcohol prior to use as well.

What if I see something unsafe?

You do not have to justify or explain, but simply make the request, just as you would ask for a smoky eye or a nude lip.

For example, if a makeup artist is using a mascara directly from the tube on you, ask, “do you have any disposable wands we could use?” If you’re concerned about dirty brushes, curiously ask, “how often do you wash your brushes?”

What should I look for when hiring a makeup artist?

Here are a few tips to ensure that you won’t even have to worry about any of the makeup artist sins above:

  • Check for the no-no’s I mentioned in behind-the-scenes photos. Photos never lie. Check their tagged photos on Facebook and Instagram for these types of photos.

  • Look for certifications that an artist has attained such as The Sanitation Conversation, training in Blood Borne Pathogens and infectious diseases.

  • Express your safety concerns prior to booking the appointment. Most artists are happy to make you feel more comfortable by explaining their sanitation procedures.

  • Scan reviews for key words like clean, professional or sanitary.

Want a video recap?

Click HERE or below to watch the video I filmed about this subject, early in the global pandemic.

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