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Are Your Makeup Products Bathing in Bacteria?

By | Uncategorized, Your Makeup Career | No Comments

We apologize in advance, but you’re about to learn some pretty disturbing information about your makeup tools. If you’re an MUA, the contents of this article are crucial to your career. Nothing will tank your makeup business faster than using dirty products, spreading harmful bacteria onto your client, and potentially getting her sick!

That being said, this is directed just as much at all our fellow makeup lovers out there, too. Being aware of the potential health risks posed by dirty cosmetic products can help assure that you take all the necessary precautions for your health. Your health, at the end of the day, is what matters most.

woman shocked as she looks at makeup brush through magnifying glass

9 out of 10 makeup products are swimming in superbugs

Yes, you heard us right. It’s horrifying, but it’s true. A recent study at Birmingham’s Aston University took a close look at 497 makeup products, made up of the following:

  • 96 lipsticks
  • 92 eyeliners
  • 107 lip glosses
  • 79 blender sponges
  • 93 mascaras

The results of the study were shocking: of the 497 cosmetics, 70% to 90% were contaminated in some way!

Beauty bacteria

In order for any approved makeup product to be sold to the public, it absolutely CANNOT contain any pathogenic organisms – that is, any organism capable of causing diseases in a person. It’s primarily through how the product is used by people that exposes it to these bad organisms. The most common superbugs known to contaminate makeup tools are:

  • Staphylococci aureus
  • Salmonella and Citrobacter freundii
  • Pseudomonas Aeruginosa
  • Escherichia coli – a.k.a. E. coli

In case you didn’t know, that least one is linked directly to fecal contamination. We’ll give you a moment to wrap your head around that one. (We definitely needed it.)

If not properly used, washed, and taken care of, these are the types of germs we’re coating on our skin, packing into our pores, putting on our eyes, and even getting into our mouths. Gross!

purple-colored bacteria under miscroscope

Which makeup product is the worst for bacteria?

Beauty blenders win this by a landslide, unfortunately. The egg-shaped sponges – known for applying and smoothing out foundations and powders – are by far the dirtiest tool of them all. In the UK study, 26% of them even had traces of fecal matter found on them!

Following behind beauty blenders, the other products with the highest bacteria concentration are eyeliner, lipstick, and mascara.

Why the results are so bad

Obviously the natural question following this study is: Why? What’s the reason behind all of this bacteria making a home on our cosmetics? What are we doing when handling our makeup that’s so problematic?

Never cleaning your products

In the Aston University research study, a whopping 94% of beauty blenders had never been cleaned before. Not once! There were similar results in a 2013 study of 44 students in Brazil. There, 93% of the students had also never washed their blender, but continued to use it regularly.

Using a product after it’s been dropped

If you can believe it, it gets worse. What’s worse than never washing your products is dropping them on the floor, not cleaning it, and then continuing to use it anyway! Of that Brazil study group, over half of the students admitted they were guilty of doing this. The results of the Aston University study were startlingly similar, with approximately 50% of the beauty blenders having been dropped and reused, without being washed.

This is highly unsanitary, and opens you up to an army of germs!

dirty and broken beauty blenders

Ignoring the expiry date

Did you know that the lifespan of a beauty blender is only 3 months? Makeup products have an expiration date for a reason. If you use them past that point, you’re putting you and/or your client’s health at risk. Once it’s reached its shelf life, throw it away!

Bodily fluids

Ever coughed or accidentally sneezed while working on a client? Well, there’s a chance that contaminates just got all over the tool and product you’re using. If you don’t take the time to clean or sanitize your tools/products, you’ve likely just transferred bacteria, viruses, and other contaminates onto your client’s skin, eyes, or mouth.

Lipstick touchups

Whether it’s you or your client re-applying some lipstick, stain, or gloss, make sure nothing’s been eaten right beforehand. Otherwise, food particles can get onto the product. That alone is enough to get the ball rolling for all sorts of nasty superbugs! If you’ve just eaten and need to freshen up your pout, make sure to wash your hands and brush your teeth first.

Not cleaning your products properly

Research shows that the higher the water content on the product, the better the chances are of it becoming contaminated. I know what you’re thinking: “But… don’t I NEED water to be able to clean a lot of my products?”

Yep, water and soap. But the third and final step to the cleaning process is often times drying the product, which a lot of people forget to do. This means bad news bears for beauty blenders especially. If you clean your beauty blender with soap and water, and then leave it on its own to dry, you may as well throw it back on the floor.

When air-drying your beauty products, in order to ensure it’s not at risk of germs, try to let the item dry somewhere well-ventilated, on a clean surface, and where it isn’t exposed to or touching anything else. (So basically, don’t throw a wet or damp beauty blender into your makeup kit!)

Another useful tip is to avoid drying your makeup products in the bathroom, as this area and its surfaces can be easily contaminated in many ways.

set of clean makeup brushes

Adding to the problem

A huge part of the issue is that makeup companies aren’t always releasing as much information to us as they could be, especially in terms of how to properly use, maintain, and clean the product. For newer, trendy items such as the beauty blender, there’s even less info for us to rely on.

Dr. Amreen Bashir, who led the study at Aston University, argued that cosmetic brands really need to provide clear instructions; that “more needs to be done to help educate consumers, and the makeup industry as a whole, about the need to wash beauty blenders regularly and dry them thoroughly”. Clearly, there needs to be more effort devoted to regulating the product packaging within the makeup industry.

Tips to keeping things clean

Beyond what makeup companies do, the rest of the responsibility falls on us. So what can we do to try and keep our makeup products germ-free (at least, to the best of our ability)? Here are some helpful tips:

  • Always wash your hands AND face before putting on makeup. If making any touch ups later on, wash your hands again. Basically, never touch makeup if your hands aren’t clean.
  • Never let anyone else use your products. If you’re a makeup artist, always use new, fresh applicators on all clients. Once used, throw it away immediately. Never use the same applicator on two clients, unless it’s been thoroughly cleaned and properly dried first.
  • Don’t double dip with a disposable applicator. Remember, one applicator = one use. If more product is needed, use a fresh/clean applicator.
  • Stop using any product once it reaches its expiration date. Again, remember that the expiry date is there for a reason!
  • Always keep your makeup products themselves clean and properly stored. If you’re unsure the proper method of cleaning each product, QC offers a wonderful, thorough guide here.

If you’re guilty of a few of these sanitation sins, that’s okay. It’s still the first month of the new decade, so there’s plenty of time to turn things around! What matter is that now you know, so you can work on adopting new and better makeup habits in 2020.

If you’re already taking all of these measures? Hey, we’re proud of you! Use your knowledge to go forth and help protect others from the wrath of all those pesky superbugs. Make the world a better place, one squeaky clean beauty blender at a time!

redheaded woman applying lipstick

Want more advice on making sure you always keep your makeup products clean? Here are 8 extra tips!

makeup items you don't need - woman throwing brushes away

5 Useless Items You Don’t Need In Your Professional Makeup Kit

By | Makeup Tips and Tricks, Uncategorized, Your Makeup Career | No Comments

There are already countless makeup items lining the shelves (both physical and online), and with brand new products coming out every day on top of that, how are you supposed to know what’s legit and what’s no good to you?

Look, you’re a professional, the real deal. So we want to level with you, because a lot of these makeup companies aren’t. The truth is, there are a lot of items you simply do not need in your professional makeup kit. It could be because they don’t work as advertised, or maybe they cost way more than they’re actually worth. Perhaps there’s a more practical, cheaper alternative.

Either way, you’re too good for them, and we just want the best for you!

Keep reading to find out our list of the top 5 items you can go ahead and throw out of your makeup kit!

1. Silicon Makeup Sponge

makeup items you don't need - silicon makeup sponge

What it promises you

Silicon makeup sponges became a hot commodity when they first appeared on the makeup market. With its smooth texture and see-through appearance, they were marketed as the be-all-and-end-all of blending products. Argued to smooth out your foundation better than any competing brush, wedge, or foam sponge counterpart, the idea was that with the silicon makeup sponge, your skin would always have the perfect photoshopped finish.

Why you don’t need it

But once everyone started trying this product, it was very quickly exposed for the hack it is. In reality, most professional makeup artists strongly advise against using a silicon makeup sponge. Why? Unlike the latex-free foam sponge, the silicon’s smooth exterior gives it no way to actually soak up the product. This results in a heavier, cakier foundation application. Sure, the silicon sponge can spread it – but what good is that if it can’t actually blend the makeup into your client’s pores?

You’d be better off using a different applicator.

2. Expensive powders

makeup items you don't need - girl putting on powder with brush

What it promises you

More money, better quality. That’s the idea that’s being sold. The costlier the powder, the better it is for your client’s skin, and her results. Foundation, concealers, and creamy contours can make the skin appear dewy, even wet. It’s easy to sell the importance of a solid powder when it’s the very product that can make or break the look of your skin. With expensive powders, the finish will be seamless, and your client will look perfect. They will soften shine, soak into your client’s pores, create less residue, and be an overall better makeup product than any powder you could buy at a lower price.

Why you don’t need it

The truth is, all powders – regardless of cost – will use two important ingredients: mica and/or talc. So long as these ingredients are finely ground up (which they are in the majority of available makeup powders), they’ll all have the same basic effect. When it comes to the makeup industry, sometimes when you pay an arm and a leg, you’re not really paying for the quality of the product, but where the product’s coming from. If you’re spending $50+ on powder, the majority of that cost is actually just paying for the packaging, marketing, and relevance of the company and its brand.

Of course, that’s not to say that every powder is equal to the other. Some judgement should be used when determining which one you want to use on both yourself and your clients. All we’re saying is, you’re safe to ditch the (pointlessly) fancy stuff. Its drugstore equivalent will do the trick just fine.

3. High-end mascara

makeup items you don't need - MUA putting mascara on client

What it promises you

The really fancy stuff guarantees a superior formula to cheaper mascara. It will give your client longer, thicker lashes with far less clumping. The difference it’ll make for your client’s eyes will be drastically jaw-dropping, and if she were to blink too hard and too fast, her lashes will be SO LONG that she may just lift up and fly away! (Okay, we may be paraphrasing a bit here.)

You get the point, though.

Why you don’t need it

There’s some truth, depending on you and your taste. Many people feel both cheaper and pricey mascaras give the exact same results. Others have compared expensive mascara brands to cheaper ones and admitted they preferred the pricier mascara’s results – but only just by the tiniest bit.

Often times when you see side-by-side photos, you can barely tell them apart. Even if you can, it’s so miniscule that it’s hard to justify paying $25 more dollars just to get that teeny, tiny difference. Lots of drugstore mascaras create exceptional volume and thickness for lashes, with minimal clumping. You might as well save your money, since it won’t mean sacrificing quality.

4. Eyeshadow primer

makeup items you don't need - mua putting eyeshadow primer on client

What it promises you

Eyeshadow primer promises to do two main things:

  1. Keep your client’s concealer, eyeshadow, eyeliner, etc. looking flawless throughout the day by preventing it from creasing (thanks to its ability to absorb excess oils, etc.)
  2. If the primer has a nude or white tone, it can also provide a brighter, cleaner base for your client’s eyeshadow color(s) so they can really pop

Why you don’t need it

In this case, it’s not that the product doesn’t work as intended – it’s just that there are way cheaper alternatives that can give your client the same kind of outcome. For example, even something like Aloe Vera Gel can be used as a primer. It adds moisture without adding oil. Just dab a tiny amount on your client’s eyelids, give it a few seconds to dry a bit, and then continue!

Most concealers and foundations worth their salt are made to be long-lasting, so you should be able to use those as eyeshadow primer on your client without having to worry about creasing throughout the day. Another suggestion is to simply use a white cream/powder eyeshadow as the primer! The white will give her eyeshadow hues the best ability to really show themselves off.

5. Individual eyeshadow pots

makeup items you don't need - model wearing eyeshadow with eyeshadow palette held up

What it promises you

The exact color/shade you’re looking for in that moment, at an attractively low price.

Why you don’t need it

We’re a firm believer that you should never buy one of something when you can buy a bunch all at once. No, we’re not saying that you should buy multiple individual eyeshadows at the same time. That would cost a fortune! What you should be doing is looking for eyeshadow palettes.

Palettes are individual products that offer many pigments. While they will be a tad pricier upfront than it would be to buy a singular pot, you’ll save your money in the long run and get way more bang for your buck. Plus, palettes are a practical way to carry a wide array of different colors on you while saving space within your professional makeup kit!

In fact, if you’re able to get anything in a bundle (lip shades, contouring kits, makeup brushes, etc.) instead of buying each one individually, that is our greatest money-saving piece of advice for you. Whenever possible, try to go for bulk!

As a makeup artist, you want to ensure that you always present your best self to your clients. Part of doing that is having the best – and most effective – makeup products on-hand. You can achieve this without the most expensive tools and unnecessary products. So as 2020 quickly approaches, make it a New Year’s resolution to say goodbye to those items you don’t need in your professional makeup kit!

We’ve covered which makeup products you don’t need, but what about the essentials? Check out this list of top 10 MUST-HAVE items for your professional makeup kit!