5.2 Keeping your clients safe

When it comes to keeping your clients safe, hygiene is absolutely critical. As you learned earlier in this course, eye infections can be very infectious, and with proper hygiene, you can cause serious damage to your clients. In addition to the spread of infections, many of your tools present risks, and so do products like lash glue and glue remover. The basics of hygiene include correct handwashing, using disposables and high standards of cleanliness.

As you will have read in the hygiene guidance provided by Safe Work Australia, good hygiene requires everyone in the workplace to:

  • Cover their coughs and sneezes with their elbow or a clean tissue (no hankies!) And dispose of tissues hygienically
  • Avoid touching their face, eyes, nose and mouth
  • Wash and dry their hands completely before and after smoking a cigarette or eating
  • Clean and disinfect equipment after use
  • Maintain good personal hygiene (wash body, hair and clothes every day)
  • Hair tied back to prevent it from touching the client

In addition to hygiene basics, effective sterilisation and sanitisation in your treatment area is an absolute must.

Key phrase | Sterilisation: refers to any process that removes, kills, or deactivates all forms of life, which includes germs, bacteria and any other nasties.

Key phrase | Sanitisation: is the reduction of bacteria to safe levels (set by public health standards) to decrease the risk of infection.

Key phrase | Sanitation: the act or process of making something sanitary i.e. a sanitary work space.

For general cleaning, you will want to follow these steps:

Depending on what you are cleaning, warm soapy water may do the trick – for example, cleaning work benches, wiping down your lighting or cleaning your storage trolley. For tools that are in close contact with clients, sterilisation is a must. To sterilise equipment, there are a few methods you can use. All methods of sterilisation will require heat. The reason for this is to completely kill off any bacteria, heat must exceed 121°C (250°F).


For the beauty industry, there are three common sterilisation methods used which are UV light, moist heat and dry heat. Let’s learn a little more about each:

UV light

UV lights have become a popular sterilisation method as it is relatively inexpensive and effective. There are specific UV sterilisation machines that are purpose-built for a beauty salon environment. Without getting too technical, UV sterilisers basically use the power of UV lights to kill free-floating organisms, such as viruses.

Moist heat

Moist heat sterilisers are also referred to as auto claves, which use steam to kill any nasties. These are often used in medical settings and are very effective. However, make sure that your tools are heat resistant before putting them in an auto clave!

Dry heat

Dry heat sterilisers are the most popular option in the beauty industry because the process works and does not destroy tools with moisture like auto claves can.

You might hear some beauty industry professionals say that they soak their tools in boiling water, so they are sterilising them. Yes, boiling water has the heat component, but soaking tools in boiling water is actually considered to be a sanitation method. The reason for this is boiling water reaches 100°C, and as you learned earlier, to completely kill off any bacteria, heat must exceed 121°C (250°F).

As a lash artist starting out, it is unlikely that you will have access to an autoclave. You can pick up dry heat sterilisers for under $100, but soaking tools in hot water with a cleaning agent such as Barbicide or a bit of bleach will be a good option until you can afford sterilisation equipment. If you are using cleaning agents or bleach in your sterilisation process, then be sure to rinse and air dry after soaking.


Sanitation in your workplace is an absolute must, and you will be sanitising your work area and tools throughout your treatments, after each client and at the end of your workday. To keep your work area and tools clean, you will need to use a combination of cleaning, sanitising, and disinfecting – but aren’t they all the same? Actually, they are not. Let’s take a look at the differences:

Sanitation methodOverview
CleaningYou will clean your workspace and tools regularly to remove dirt, dust, crumbs, and germs. In your cleaning process, you will usually use warm water and cleaning agents such as soap, glass cleaner or floor cleaner. Cleaning will make your surfaces visually clean, but it will not eliminate all germs.
SanitisingSanitiser comes in many forms, including gels, sprays and even powder form. The aim of sanitising your work area, hands or tools is to lower the number of germs to a safe level. Before you sanitise something, you should always make sure it has been cleaned first. For example, skipping washing your hands in favour of just sanitising them may result in germs still being present. Sanitisers are generally safe on your skin and are often used in hospitality environments as they are safe around food.
DisinfectingDisinfectants are designed to kill germs on surfaces and objects and will usually come in the form of bleach or alcohol solutions. For disinfectants to be most effective, you will usually need to soak items or leave them overnight so that they have time to destroy germs. Disinfectants tend to be slightly stronger than sanitisers.

If you ever drop a tool on the ground during an appointment, you cannot pick it up and use it on the client without cleaning and sanitising it first! Practising good hygiene and sanitation keeps everyone safe and will also help your reputation. You must clean and sanitise after each client and then allocate time at the end of each day to clean your floors, bins, tools and any frequently touched surfaces.

Given the rise of viruses spreading, Safe work Australia has excellent guidance for routine cleaning in response to viruses but can be applied in your daily setting. The guide linked below explains which sanitation method to use in terms of detergent (cleaning) and disinfectant for different materials and depending on how frequently they have been touched.

A comprehensive list of hygiene rules to remember, is:

1Always wash your hands and use sanitising spray between clients
2Use clean towels for every client and wash towels at a minimum of 60°C
3Tie long hair back
4Wear short sleeved garments
5Remove jewellery
6Fingernails should be short and clean
7Have all metal tools soaked in Barbicide for at least 20 minutes
8Use disposable equipment where possible
9Dispose of waste correctly
10Use disposable implements to decant products from containers
11Never “double dip” back into the product (causes cross contamination)
12Spray work surfaces with sanitising fluid between clients

When you are working with products, chemicals, and equipment that you are not familiar with, it is important that you read the labels and any safety data sheets that apply. A safety data sheet (SDS or MSDS) is an important document that provides information about hazardous chemicals. An SDS will include the following information:

  • Ingredients and chemical classifications
  • Handling and storage requirements
  • Medical information, including emergency responses
  • How to dispose of the chemical

If you haven’t received an SDS with your products or chemicals, then contact your supplier and request that they send them to you. It is critical that you understand all of the requirements for the safe and effective use of any product or chemical you use. The best way to understand SDS is to read some for yourself! There are several SDS for a range of products and chemicals linked as well as a link to more information about SDS which can be found on the Safe Work Australia website:

Now that you have read a few SDS, can you now see how important they are? They have loads of useful information and will always indicate any safety risks and requirements. In the Nova Lash SDS as an example, you will see they have included thorough information with regard to the first aid requirements for specific accidents. In this example, there are treatments options for:

  • Skin contact
  • Skin adhesion
  • Eyelid adhesion
  • Adhesive in the eye
  • Lips stuck together
  • Burns

Earlier in the course, you learned that you should err on the side of caution, and if you are unsure, then you should seek medical attention straight away. While major accidents are rare, if the reaction is severe, copies of the SDS and any product packaging should be provided to the medical facility so that they know exactly what they are working with.

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