By Chantelle Taylor and Maggie Tamarua

First off, if you are a makeup artist worth your salt this isn’t even a question for you but if you have two to four minutes – stay with me.

Second – if you had no idea what I just asked you (insert cringe here) put your brushes down right now and settle in for a spell.

Conjunctivitis, or Pink Eye as it is also known, is a highly contagious infection of the mucous membrane that lines the eyelid and eye surface. It leaves the eye red, swollen and usually ‘glued’ shut in the morning by excess mucous that has dried around the eyelashes overnight. It usually lasts anywhere from 7 – 10 days.

If you ever remember having this as a 7-year-old kid on your birthday when camping with your family, you’ll be nodding your head right about now… oh wait, that was me! OK, maybe it wasn’t camping but if you’ve had it before, you don’t forget it in a hurry.

As with most illnesses these days, conjunctivitis has a viral strain and a bacterial strain. Bacterial can be treated with anti-biotics whereas viral conjunctivitis cannot be medically treated and therefore preventing its spread is super important!

SO, as makeup artists, what can we do to prevent this pesky germ dweller from ruining our businesses because I guarantee you, if your client even thinks they got it from you and they start talking, you can pretty much kiss your reputation goodbye.

The beauty industry is full of lovely people, some of them I consider to be my best friends but as in every highly competitive industry, you have the bottom feeders just sitting there waiting for someone to fall like the majority of the speed skaters that resulted in Stephen Bradbury to win gold. They live for that shit.

Poor hand-washing is the main cause of the spread of conjunctivitis. Sharing an object, such as a washcloth, towel or MAKEUP BRUSH with a person who has conjunctivitis can spread the infection quicker than I can scoff a whole snickers bar (it’s fast, people. Really fast). And like the snickers bar that creeps that cellulite onto your butt, you won’t know you’ve got an infection until it’s too late.

The first rule when it comes to makeup is HYGIENE. Bad makeup hygiene is a risk to your client and your professional career. If you don’t disinfect your makeup, brushes and tools, bacteria will grow and spread to everything it touches. My handy tips are:

  • Always sanitize hands before and after makeup application.
  • Always use disposable mascara wands and do NOT DOUBLE DIP.
  • Clean your sharpener and sharpen all pencils before application.
  • DO NOT BLOW ON YOUR BRUSHES. It’s surprising how many people still do this. Tap your brush on
    a table edge to get rid of the excess.
  • Always put your lids straight back on your cream products i.e. concealer, foundation etc.
    to protect them from the germs and dirt flying around in the atmosphere (these invisible particles can contaminate your product too).
  • Depot all products that you are using on your clients when you are ready to use them. For example do not depot your gel liner before you start your eye prep – it will dry out from being exposed to the air. Do your eye prep, shadow etc. and when you’re ready, scoop out the product with your clean spatula.

What about powder products I hear you ask? I am constantly asked how I clean eyeshadow, powder blushes and other powder products. It’s hard to get your head around at first but powder products do not harbour bacteria! However, you can fill a small spray bottle with alcohol and spray after each makeup application directly on the surface of the powder products or simply wipe with a dry tissue.

Isocol is my weapon of choice to sanitise my powder products as well as my creams. The product will look wet, but this will not ruin the product as it has over 90% of alcohol. It will dry very quickly and sanitize your makeup. It will change the texture of the product over time, but to be honest I’d rather replace it than risk it.

You can also dip isocol onto a makeup pad and wipe the top of any product if used directly on skin or face. Try to avoid this by depotting your product, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do!

If we as professional makeup artists keep pushing these rules while you are on a job, it will become part of your client’s makeup routine and it will steadily become one of the main things they look for along with choosing an artist with mad, mad makeup skills.

Sadly, not everyone working in the industry works to high standards. Remember that model walking at Sydney Fashion Week who got Golden Staph from a makeup brush? You don’t want to be that makeup artist.

Chantelle is a Hair and Makeup Artist who daylights as an Executive Assistant in the corporate world of business consultants. She uses Hair and Make up as one of her many creative outlets, the others being crochet and writing short and witty blog posts.