Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Face Painting: Cleaning Faces and Hands

There is much debate among face painters about what is best to clean models chocolate/booger encrusted faces, and also what is best to clean our own germ riddled hands after touching each model. Here are my thoughts on both issues.
FACES
A parent plops down their child in your face paint chair and the kids face is covered in what they had for lunch, and their nose is one breath away from blowing snot bubbles. Eww! What can be done?

Most face painters go with the option of using wet wipes to solve this problem. It's such a common thing to see on face painting tables and most people assume it's the best option, but it's far from it. In fact there are so many issues with using wet wipes when face painting that it actually has it's own page.
4 Reasons Wet Wipes Are Bad For Face Painting

If you've read it then you understand why I feel wet wipes are not the answer, and not recommended.

At the end of that blog entry I do offer what I feel is the best solution, but I didn't come to that right away. There were many other alternatives I looked into as well. Here are some of them.

Not Recommended: Homemade Wipes

This is an interesting idea, and it was actually one I was playing around with in my head before coming up with my paper towel square/spray bottle solution.

I once a found a blog from a mom who made her own wipes using soaked paper towel, baby oil and other things in them (that's her photo up there). To be honest it made me cringe because with out the preservative chemicals found in regular wet wipes (which are at the same time their very issue) you have just created a ticking time bomb for bacteria. Don't kid yourself, this WILL mold; you can't keep something like that wet and not have bacteria or mold start to build and form at some point.
Also it's a time vampire, because you have to make them yourself, and they don't last very long, so you'll be making them all the time.

So it's just safer to keep your wet solution in it's own dispenser until you need it.
Not Recommended: Reusable Cloth Squares

Thought about this too. Cut up little fabric squares and use them with my soap/water atomizer! At first it seemed like a great eco/green idea, because I could wash them at home and it would be less waste over all, and I could even dye them black to avoid visible stains!

But after some more thought I realized that there are just some things the public just doesn't want you to reuse, or be the 2nd hand recipient from (even if it's clean!!). This is one of them. The public understands you can't throw out your brushes, or your sponges etc but with something as simple as a cloth wipe it feels 'dirtier', even though honestly it's probably cleaner then the brush! Nope, doesn't matter. The public doesn't see it that way. They want you do use a wipe just for them, and them alone. Doesn't matter if you take it home and wash them in the washing machine or whatever. It's the same reason there's not really any 2nd hand underwear for sale at Value Village. It doesn't matter how clean it actually might be, because the very thought of it makes us cringe.

10 Grossest Items To Buy Second-Hand

Sadly you can't do much to change the public's impression on this. :/ And to me at least a clean image is just as important as an actual clean setup.
I did think that perhaps it while it might not work in other places, it might work in my city. I live in Vancouver which (claims to be) one of the Greenest cities in all of Canada, and the people here can be pretty smug about it too lol. I thought I might try it, but again, some times you have to cater the the lowest common denominator. Also I know that in Vancouver Canada at least, not many people would actually 'voice' their concern if they had one. They would be more likely to just keep it to themselves, as to do otherwise might be considered 'rude'.

So, I chose not to risk it and went with the option I knew had a definite success, rather then a 'maybe'.

Save this one for personal at home use instead.

Highly Recommended: Paper Towel + Soap/Water Spray
All things considered, I went with the small paper towel squares and to keep them dry until I spray them with my atomizer soap/water solution. Sure it's not as fast as pulling out a pre-moistened wipe, but it's only like 2 seconds more for a better result so I think it was well worth it.
Read more at the bottom of this page.


HANDS
Every season is flu season. At least that's what it seems like lol. Let's face it, kids are germ factories, and this is one of many reasons it is highly recommended to sanitize your hands between each model. In the makeup industry this is a must. You can't even touch your hair or other 'non-tools' with out sanitizing your hands again after. So with face painting, to me it's reasonable to, at the very least, sanitize your hands between models.

But what to use?

Not Recommended: Hand Washing Station

If you can manage to haul a large multi-gallon water container, and set up a make shift hand washing station, then by all means if this is what has worked for you. But to me this isn't the most practical thing do be doing for most face painting gigs.
  • First of all this doesn't sound practical do be doing indoors, or say at a private birthday party in someones living room. 
  • It's also not practical to be doing this between every single model. It simply takes too long to properly wet > soap > rinse every time.
When push comes to shove, soap and water is better hands down for cleaning. But it fails for being practical for your average face painting setup. I could see it being used at a large outdoor event where you are painting for many hours, but little else.

Not Recommended: Soapy Spray

Long ago I tried the soapy spray thing for my hands when I was face painting because I knew soap was ultimately the best and my hand sani was starting to dry out my hands. Having a hand washing station would be best, but as stated above it just wasn't practical to bring in peoples homes. So I opted for a soapy spray for my hands, however my retired nurse Mother-In-Law set me straight on that one, with SCIENCE!

See the problem comes when it comes time to rinse off the soap, and this is the step which is missing when we simply have a soap water mix.


Soap contains surfactants (surface active agents) and on one end of the molecule is attracted to water, while the other end is attracted to dirt and grease. So the surfactant molecules help water to get a hold of grease, break it up, and wash it away. BUT the problem is this; if you aren't rinsing it off then dirt and grease filled surfactants just stay and hang out on your hands (this is why there is a "20 second rule" when it comes to washing your hands).

So the grime and bacteria are still there, and aren't they really sanitized at all, just stuck on the surfactants which are still on your hands.

But doesn't the same problem occur when using a soap/water mix with paper towel for cleaning a models faces? Yes. So along with the soap/water spray, I also use my regular water atomizer (used to wet rainbow cakes) to wet the other side of the paper towel and wipe away any soap left over on the area if needed. While I surmise I could do the same thing for my hands, it would require larger pieces of paper towel and more water, AND I would have to do it between each and every kid. :/
Highly Recommended: Hand Sanitizer
Hand sanitizer for the win.

Hand sanitizers are are gels that contain alcohol in order to kill the germs present on the skin. My Mother-In-Law told me to simply get a hand sanitizer with an added moisturizer, and recommended one with added aloe. That way this kills any bacteria on your hands and makes it inert for minimal cross contamination. When choosing which one to get, choose one that has a min 65% - 95% alcohol content. Any less and it's not enough to effectively sanitize. I also opt for one with a pump on top.
  • Convenient, portable, easy to use and not time consuming.
  • Several studies have concluded that the risk of spreading gastrointestinal (stomach) and respiratory infection is decreased among families who use hand sanitizers.
  • The alcohol works immediately and effectively in order to kill bacteria and most viruses.
  • You don't need a lot! A dime size amount is all you need.
Just remember these are not meant to be a replacement to soap and water. If you have grime and dirt etc on your hands, then you need to wash them with soap and water.

Face paint on your hands is a different issue. As it's not itself dirty, and is usually just transfer from a sponge or brush, I actually do keep some wet wipes in my kit (hidden away so parents don't grab them) to clean paint off my hands (and my kit). The cool thing is that the oils in the wipes also help to coat my hands (and my tools) so that the paint comes off them even easier!

Thank you for reading! I hope you found this helpful!

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