What is sanitation and what is disinfection and why is 70% alcohol so important?
Updated: Jul 12, 2020
During the COVID19 pandemic I see that all of my clients who needed to move their wedding dates are starting to think about this topic of sanitation.
From the moment I founded my brand "Makeup by Katrin Levi" I observed all rules of sanitation thoroughly and follow a sanitation protocol on all my jobs.
This part of my job is dear to my heart and my people know it is hard for me to shut up about it :)
The proper sanitation is something I apply always, every single day in my work as a professional makeup artist and not only since COVID-19. But I recently became a licenced sanitation expert in order to kick into the highest gear in sanitation practice to offer maximum protection to everybody in my chair.
If you are a collegue reading this and you want to protect your clients better here is an afiliate link to the program I took: http://lddy.no/nbcf
If you are a consumer who wants to learn more about makeup sanitation t the end of this article you'll find a link to my friend Natalie's free download to give you a nice overview about the steps you can take in your personal makeup bag routine.
Today sanitation and disinfection also play a bigger role in our personal lifes and I will help you to demystify some terms.
What is sanitation?
Sanitation is often used as a term to describe the whole thing but the word itself means to clean the surface of something that at least 60% of bacteria are removed.
Even when we wash our hands with soap and water, this is sanitation because a good hand wash for 30 seconds with soap eliminates most of the surface bacteria and loose skin cells.
Before we sanitize/disinfect anything we always clean first. Then we proceed with the sanitation/disinfection part if needed.
So we learned that sanitation follows after cleaning and it kills around 99% of bacteria but sanitation doesn't kill fungi, MRSA and Staph viruses, HIV and co.
My favorite sanitation product is 70% alcohol.
It isn't killing all viruses but it is effective against COVID-19 as well. So using 70% alcohol in the sanitation step is a good approach in your every day life currently because it will offer protection against COVID-19.
In alcohol there are some different types available like Isopropyl and Ether but I will not go into this detail here. Take whichever 70% product you have available.
Depending on the product you choose and what you want to disinfect there are different times those products need to sit on the surface. You can find the time per product in the small print and if you use 70% alcohol hand sanitizer it will take average 10 seconds to be effective.
The cleaner your hands or the surfaces are the faster it will be sanitized properly.
During this pandemic it is important to sanitize your shopping bags when you arrive at home.
Why do we see 70% alcohol products everywhere since the COVID-19 pandemic started?
Some important facts about 70% alcohol:
It is scientifically proven that at a percentage of 70% alcohol is most potent.
Bacterias have cell walls formed out of lipids. The alcohol dissolves the wall in average 10 seconds and leaves the nucleus cracked open and the DNA floating around being unable to function any more. So it isn't removing it. It just disables the function.
Also alcohol solutions from 60%-91% are effective but may affect the time the product needs to sit in order to have the wished effect. They contain less water than 70% alc. and the water evaporates too quickly so that the effect of the alcohol on the cell walls isn't as effective.
Higher alcohol percentages than 96% put the cells into a shock mode, their defense mechanism is activated and they can survive in this stage for many hours. This can in the end lead to a higher contamination than prior to the disinfection attempt.
If you spray your household items, cellphones and keychains with 99% alcohol then you engage pathogen growth immensely. In makeup we only use 99% for alcohol activated colors, not in our sanitation routine.
When we talk about 70% alcohol that doesn't mean that you can just add a spritz of it in order to see results. The percentage means that 70% of the total product needs to contain 70% of alcohol, 30 parts whatever and 70 parts alcohol.
Meaning if you want to mix your own hand sanitizer with let's say aloe vera gel and alcohol you need to take alcohol with a % higher than 70 and then do your math to get a solution with 70 parts of alcohol.
I recommend sanitizers at exactly 70% but a little lower is also working.
Under 60% they are useless.
Disinfection means to destroy 99.9% of all surface pathogens.
Most common are certain chemicals such as Barbicide, bleach or other products with the label to destroy 99.9%
Mixing chemicals is dangerous and should only be done if you know 100% what you are doing. While mixing aloe gel with alcohol is harmless, mixing household cleaners with each other can be life threatening. Never mix bleach like economica with alkaline toilet cleaners because it can result in a chemical reaction that creates chlor gas which is lethal in small doses.
For house cleaning among economica I recommend vinegar essence and 70% alcohol to keep your home safe and a disinfectant for sensible areas like the toilet and door knobs.
Not all things can be disinfected.
Mascara wands, creams of all kind, sponges are the first to mention. That is the reason why a professional makeup artist will use disposables and not contaminate products in the application process. For your personal use you don't need disposables as long as you sanitize carefully and in your personal routine you can also use sponge blenders multiple times if you wish.
70% alcohol is 70 parts alc. and 30 parts distilled water. You need to close the lid in order to prevent evaporation of water AND alcohol. If the bottle was open for some time you can't use it for proper sanitation any more. 99% alc. will also evaporate over time but the percentage inside the solution will not change. It will always remain 99 to 1. I still don't recommend keeping it open for safety reasons.
What is disinfection?
Disinfection means to destroy 99.9% of all surface pathogens. Pathogens means not only bacteria but also fungi and viruses.
Most common are certain chemicals such as Barbicide, bleach or other products with the label to destroy 99.9% in combination with the term Viruzid or germicidal and usually you can see on the product bottle against which specific pathogens it is effective and also how long the product needs to sit in order to show an effect.
In your every day life disinfection with a hospital grade viruzid is only recommended during this time on door knobs, toilets and other sensible areas where disinfection makes sense.
A lot of things like our hands can't be disinfected! In fact disinfectants are toxic and should never touch our skin. If you work with a disinfectant you should wear protective gloves. Never ingest or inject or bath in disinfectants!!
Disinfectants like bleach are suspected to raise your individual cancer chance. Use common sense and protect your body from any form of direct contact.
Is there more to mention about disinfection? You bet!
Sterilization often comes up as a term as well but what Sterilization means is the destruction of 100% of pathogens but this is only practiced in the medical field and in some parts of beauty fields and is only doable under very controlled parameters. We and our house and our belongings will never be sterile and don't have to be. Also a makeup kit doesn't have to be and can't be sterile.
A relatively new field is the UV light disinfection.
I use UV light to disinfect my makeup kit as an additional step in my process and UV light in the right nm range is now tested to figure out if it can kill COVID19 virus.
For a scientific article about blue light and how it kills germs I refer to this article.
Studies about COVID19 are ongoing but familiar viruses like SARS and MERS have shown that UV-C light exposure will eliminate them. It is very likely that it will be effective against COVID19 as well.
UV light disinfection is recommended as an additional step and is very suitable for sensible items like makeup brushes which get destroyed if we use a hospital grade disinfectant.
Warning: UV-C light is causing damage to our body if we are exposed. Only use this additional step of disinfection on your tools and products, never on youself or other humans and animals.
Fazit: Be sanitary in order to protect yourself from most pathogens and use the additional step of sanitation with 70% alcohol when going to public places and maximum use disinfectants on sensible areas according to safety instructions. Else than this follow the state instructions for gloves and masks. Viruses enter our blood stream mainly through the eyes, nose, ears and mouth. Keep your hands away from the face for that reason and cough into the crook of your arm.
If you want to hear more about sanitation listen to the podcast I made with my collegue and friend Natalie Setareh:
Download Natalie Setareh's free guide on how to be sanitary with your personal makeup bag: https://nataliesetareh.com/clean