Hygiene and Sanitation Practices for Makeup Artists

It is essential to maintain high standards of hygiene in any work area to prevent the risk of “cross contamination”.

Cross contamination is the process by which bacteria or other microorganisms are transferred from one substance or object to another.

You will be working with client’s skin, which you will come in close contact with. Keep in mind that you must always follow sanitation protocols for yourself and your client’s safety.

Dirty tools like makeup brushes, spatulas, mixing plates, and hair tools like scissors, combs, makeup and the like, can be a breeding ground of fungi, viruses, bacteria, and parasites that can easily be spread if proper sanitation is not done for prevention.

To reduce the risk of cross contamination, there are 2 rules that one artist should follow:

  1. Avoid double dipping to any makeup product – for this, we use a SPATULA, MIXING PLATE, and disposable tools like mascara wands and lip applicators and sponges
  2. Avoid direct contact of makeup products like lipsticks, stick foundations and similar cream or liquid products. –Spatulas are used to scoop of cream or liquid products instead.




  • Paper towels, Tissues, Facial Wipes, Surface Cleaning Wipes
  • Disposable tools: Sponges, Lip Brushes, Mascara Wands, Facial Cotton Pads, Q-tips
  • Mixing Plate / Metal Plate and Spatula
  • Professional Brush Cleaner (For Spot Cleansing)
  • 70% Alcohol
  • Trash Bag
  • Ziploc bags to separate dirty brushes
  • Personal Hygiene Kit: Soap, Sanitizer, Facial Masks




According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention, handwashing is the most effective way to prevent the spread of germs. It should be done before and after doing makeup work to each client.



  • Wet your hands with clean, running water.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with soap. Lather the back of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. (Happy Birthday Song twice)
  • Rinse your hands with clean, running water
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dryer

Handwashing is the best way to get rid of bacteria and other microorganisms, but there are times that soap and water are not readily available. Alcohol based Hand sanitizers can be used. While this is a good alternative, hand sanitizers do not get to rid of all types of germs the way handwashing can. It is also not effective in removing oil and dirt.


  • Apply the hand sanitizer to the palm of your hand
  • Rub together all over the surface of your hands and fingers until your hands are thoroughly dry (20 Seconds)


Expiration Dates

Whenever preparing your kit, you should always be mindful in checking the expiration dates of your makeup products. Unlike food, cosmetics do not have a clear indication of best before use and expiration dates. This can be checked by looking for the PAO SYMBOL / PRODUCT AFTER OPENING sign in your cosmetic product. (SHOW PHOTO)

The PRODUCT AFTER OPENING is a symbol that indicates the shelf life of your makeup. “M” stands for months. My advice is to do a cosmetic calender where in you label the makeup with the date when you opened the product and the date where it is supposed to expire.

Below is a table of the usual timeframe of each product


Mascara 3 – 6 Months
Liquid Eyeliner 6 Months
Retractable Liner 18 Months
Eyeliner and Eyebrow Pencil 24 – 36 Months
Gel Eyeliner 6 Months
Eyebrow Gel / Brow Mascara 12 Months
Powder Eyeshadow / Pressed Eyeshadow 18 – 36 Months
Cream Eyeshadow 12 Months




Liquid Foundation 12 Months – Water Based

18 Months – Oil Based

Loose Powder or Pressed Foundation, Blush, Bronzer, Contour 18 – 36 Months
Foundation Primer 12 Months
BB Creams / CC Creams 12 Months
Tinted Moisturizer 12 Months
Cream Bronzer and Cream Blush 12 Months
Concealer 12 Months




Lip Liner 24 – 36 Months
Lipstick 18 Months
Lip Gloss 12 Months

Not all makeup products can be seen with a PAO Symbol. Another way to check for the validity of your product is by using a COSMETIC CALCULATOR. This can be done by checking the Batch Code of your makeup product. This is then placed on an online cosmetic calculator and it will help you determine the manufacture date of cosmetics, and provide a general information of the product shelf life.

These algorithms are based on the information published on official websites. The downside of this is not all brands are supported using this method.

Water based makeups have shorter shelf life because water is an easy breeding ground for bacteria. Powders have the longest shelf life because of the absence of water.

Never use and keep expired products in your makeup kit. Always make a habit to check your kit.


Makeup Set up

A clean workspace is important to avoid contaminating your clean makeup and tools. Always disinfect the area before setting up your work station. Spread a clean towel where you can lay all your tools and makeups. As much as it is tempting to do a very decorative spreading, sanitation and hygiene should always play a top priority. Keep it clean and organize all the time.


Disinfecting Makeup

 In cleaning makeup products, we use 70% Isopropyl Alcohol.

 70% IPA solutions penetrate the cell wall of surface microorganisms like bacteria and viruses, it then spreads to the entire cell, and kills the microorganism. The extra water content of the solution slows evaporation process, therefore this increases surface contact time of the alcohol and enhancing it’s effectiveness.

As a rule of thumb, compact powders like Eyeshadow Palettes, Face powders, Blushes, Highligters and the like are cleaned by spraying  70% Isopropyl Alcohol. We just spray directly in the product and wait for the alcohol to evaporate. We then wipe the sides of the palettes after.

However, we cannot do the same method for cream and liquid makeups. By spraying directly on these, it may only disperse liquid, spread the bacteria, and contaminate the whole product. That’s why it is important to use a clean spatula for scooping cream and liquid makeup products instead.

For cleaning pencils, we should always sharpen it first, or if it is a retractable one, we cut off the top layer, and then we proceed by spraying the alcohol and letting it dry after.


Disinfecting Tools

For professional makeup artists, cleaning your tools and brushes should be done after  every use for each client.    

There are two ways in cleaning our tools and brushes. First is Deep Cleansing and the second one is Spot Cleaning.

Spot Cleaning your Tools and Brushes

When I do makeup for a group of people, I make sure to carry extra brush sets with me. If I am doing it for a larger group of people, I do spot cleaning. This is simply spraying a brush cleaner then gently wiping the brush with paper towel.  I clean one brush set after I am finished doing makeup to one client. I proceed by using a fresh set of brush to my next client. This allows time for the other brushes to dry up once we do spot cleaning, before it becomes ready for the next person.

Deep Cleansing your Brushes

While spot cleaning helps sanitize your makeup brushes in an instant, it is still important to do deep cleansing. Deep cleansing preserves the quality of your makeup brush and keeps them in it’s best shape. It also removes debris and heavy oils that spot cleaning can’t.


To do this, just mix 1 part brush shampoo to 4 parts warm water in a small bowl. Dip the brush head in the solution and gently massage the bristles, you may use a brush cleaning pad for this. Rinse the bristles and squeeze out excess water. Make sure that no water touches the ferule of the brush because this is where the glue holds together all the bristles. Lay the brushes on a dry towel, it is better to lay your brushes on a counter with the bristles hanging on the edge. This will speed up the drying process. Remember, never dry your brushes in an upright position, as it may loosen the glue in the ferule and also damage the wooden handles. Once dry, you may spray with your brush cleaner.

**With the present pandemic, it is highly suggested that clients bring their own brushes for personal safety or different sets of “deep cleansed” makeup brushes are brought in your kit.

Disinfecting Tools

Tools like lash curlers, spatulas, mixing plates and scissors can be disinfected using surface cleaners like Bleach. With the help of science, new formulas for surface cleaning agents are made like Barbicide, which is especially used for Beauty Industry professionals.

UV Sterilizers

 With the help of technology, there are additional equipment that will aid in disinfecting our tools and products. There are different kinds of sterilizers like dry heat sterilizers / autoclaves, steam sterilization and UV Sterilizers. The first two, while more effective, is not be the best idea in cleaning your tools as it may cause damage due to the high heat it emits. The UV Sterilizer device though is safe to use for delicate tools like your makeup brushes andmay eradicate bacteria and viruses without damaging it. Make sure to also sanitize your tools properly before using the UV Sterilizer.

Below are examples of UV Sterilizing tools that are helpful in keep your tools and makeup area clean and sanitized.

Upang UV Sterilizing Cabinet, UV Care Germ Zapper and Portable Light.



The recent pandemic has placed the beauty industry to a halt. I encourage that this time may be put to good use for us to update our knowledge with sanitation and disinfection protocols as beauty professionals. This gives not just you, but also your client less risk in  contracting or spreading the virus. Below are sites that aid in the knowledge of the said subject with certifications that may be added to your work area as a pro makeup artist.




Most of what’s written here are common practices for makeup artists. But additional content for sanitation and disinfection were added for us to be more equipped when allowed to be back in business. Additional protocols like temperature check for clients and health checklist should always be given before proceeding to any beauty service.

This blog post is a work in progress. Additional information are added from time to time. I hope this became an informative post to any beauty professional. If you have any ideas that you can share, please do by commenting below.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: