Prepare for a boat-load of information! Hopefully, some of this will be useful to other people in the industry and we can all continue to learn from each other. This information serves to amplify our existing hygiene knowledge and does not cover the basics! (e.g. do not blow onto makeup brushes, duh!) As we work, we will find our natural rhythm and our high-touch areas. All we can do is our best.

COVID-19 Sanitation Guide and Practices for HMU on Set:


Hand Sanitizer

Every person on set must use hand sanitizer frequently.

Wash hands with soap and water when possible.

The onus is on every single person to bring their own sanitizer to set. One cannot rely on the production company/photographer/stylist or HMU to supply enough for every person. This is a huge financial and practical problem to burden only one department with. Each department should be in charge of their own station, while production companies should monitor overall sanitation and screening. But cast and crew should all come prepared with sanitizer, and masks (mandatory).


It is important to act responsibly. Someone you are working with may live with someone who is at-risk. If you think you have been exposed to the virus, or are unwell, do not go to work.

Small sets/ test shoots: small cast and crew and the risks therein

There is this biased assumption that if there are only a few people or if we know them well, that they are not infected. This is not the case and leads to the spread of the virus.

Therefore, the onus is even more so on individuals to maintain a social-distance where possible, and keep hands clean at all times. Wearing a mask is a must.


All HMU artists are already well versed on the basics of good hygiene and infection control, as that is a mandatory part of our training. This guide aims to ramp up our efforts and adjust them to the current pandemic.

Masks, Face Shields and Social-Distancing

HMU artists should wear cloth masks and/or face shields while working. It is obviously not possible for cast to wear a mask for majority of the time in the makeup chair. 

The biggest risks of infection and spread of COVID-19 through the HMU department are those of direct contact (from people or objects) as well as droplets. 

Unfortunately, social-distancing is impossible when doing hair and makeup.  Talking during HMU should be very limited to reduce the frequency of droplet spread between HMU and cast. HMU artists should keep a mask on at all times.

Jewellery and Nails

Consider wearing minimal jewellery as this may cause the spread of germs (also, hand sanitizers can damage your jewellery over time).

Consider keeping your natural nails, as germs can easily get stuck under and around acrylic or even some gel nails.

Makeup and COVID-19:

We don’t have conclusive evidence (yet) about whether COVID-19 can survive on makeup and if it can be transmitted this way.

It is important to consider the packaging as well- as the virus is known to live on plastic and metal surfaces for up to 72 hours.

It goes without saying that applying lip products and mascara directly to a model is a no-no (whether COVID-19 exists or not). Always use a brush/ disposable (or reusable) mascara wand. Use spatulas and trays to dispense products.

Stations should be regularly wiped and sanitized, before, during, and after makeup application.

A new set of brushes or sponges should be used for each cast member, and then washed and sanitized at home. Don’t forget to sanitize the handles too!

Disposable (and eco-friendly) tools are great. You can use “popsicle” sticks as spatulas. These are cheap and relatively eco-friendly in comparison to plastic.

Repackage your products to easily clean and disinfect them: put creams and liquids into smooth packaging that is easy to clean and disinfect.

Products and tools should be cleaned and sanitized before being placed into a clean stand-by bag.

Keep brush sets separated in plastic bags or containers for each cast member (in your stand-by bag).

In addition, spraying alcohol onto a product directly can change the texture and composition of a product (I’m sure we all know this from fixing a broken compact). Be careful which products are exposed to droplets and direct contact while working.

Hair and COVID-19:

Hair Stylists should continue to wear masks and/ or face shields while working.

Wash hands and sanitize before and after each cast member.

Cast should keep masks on as much as possible.

Simple male grooming can be done at home by the cast e.g. shaving/trimming of beards.

Masks should be removed from the cast only when it is necessary to do so.

Gloves and why I don’t use them:

They are extremely harmful to the environment

I am better able to fully clean and sanitize my bare hands,

I am more conscious of keeping my hands clean when they are bare

Reduces the risk of cross-contamination

Less likely to touch my face with bare hands

Other considerations:

You can only disinfect non-porous, objects. Therefore, you want to prevent the infection of the makeup products altogether, because these products are porous. Doing things like shaving and scraping products may help instead.

Constantly sanitizing may create a slow-down in work for HMU. Dividing up the tasks between separate artists in set may reduce this. This is of course budget-dependent. 

The HMU workstation:

Don’t touch your own face and hair while working. Also, don’t eat or drink while working.

Allow yourself ample space to work. This makes for easy cleaning as you go.

Cleanliness starts at home: designate a sanitation area to prepare, clean, sanitize and repack your kit after each set day.

On set: Keeping your work area as clean and clear at all times is the best way to mitigate the risk of spreading infection through droplets and direct contact.

Keep kit bags and other items far away from the active work area to reduce the spread of droplets.

Remind cast to refrain from touching your kit items. The less people touching the same thing, the less the risk of spread.

Clean and sanitize the chair when you clean the work station. 

Keep minimal product on the station while you work (this will save time for cleaning later). 

Your stand-by bag should be constantly cleaned and sanitized (at home and on set). Things kept in this bag should be separated and kept to the essentials only.

Useful information

Cleaning vs disinfecting:

Cleaning is the act of removing germs from something through washing and drying. Or using a damp cloth with a soapy product, to wipe it down. Whereas disinfecting or sanitizing involves killing the germs (bacteria/viruses/fungi). Only solid items can de disinfected (i.e. porous items such as makeup bags and fabrics are difficult to disinfect).

Cleaning should be done before disinfecting. This is obviously in an ideal world, or an easily controlled setting like a studio. On location, it is very difficult to do both of these things.

Sterilization: killing all forms of bacteria, viruses or fungi. Including bacterial spores. This is only done at medi-spas and in the medical field.

IPA is more than adequate at 70% alcohol. A higher percentage has shown to not kill germs properly because it dries too quickly. Try to saturate to item with the IPA and then allow it to try off.  You do not need a medical-grade disinfectant: IPA is fine and we are qualified to use this. 

Household bleach is only used on surfaces and product-packaging. Do not use it on the skin. Do not mix bleach with IPA (this creates chloroform!).

We are all still navigating this new reality! Be patient with yourself and others. 

Tips for Cast:

Arrive with clean hands and nails to set: consider removing your own old nail polish yourself at home. Clean your nails with a nail brush, hand wash and then sanitize before coming to HMU. 

The risk to yourself and the artist is reduced when you spend less time in HMU, arrive to set prepared for HMU.

Talk as little as possible, to reduce droplet spread.

Do not eat and drink at HMU. And do not leave your coffee cup and food at the HMU work station.

Refrain from touching products and workspaces at all times.

Keep your mask on up until it is necessary to take it off.

Wait in a separate area from HMU and an artist can fetch you when they are ready for you.

Useful resources for HMU:

The National Health Department website and social media

Barbicide COVID-19 sanitation course (you also get a certificate)

Your own college training guides on hygiene

Other artists!      Follow me on Instagram @amylouise_makeup_ 🙂 xx