Last week, Australian model Anthea Page took to social media to reveal she had contracted golden staph from a makeup brush while on set during Sydney Fashion Week. What started off as a vent to her 90,000 followers soon grabbed the attention of the international community as Page was forcing a conversation spoken usually in hushed whispers – if at all – makeup hygiene.
Page spoke to theFashionSpot about her recovery back to health, and how to ensure the problem never happens again.
Having been on strong medication for the past 10 days, the aesthetic damage has begun to subside, Page rejoices, “It’s such a relief to be able to see again,” but she’s also well aware that this is an infection that could stay with her for life.
A letter to makeup artists and those getting their makeup done… I’m not going to sit here pretending I don’t like modelling or isn’t awesome because it really is and I do almost always have fun on jobs. Models have it good most of the time, especially in Australia however there are health/hygiene risks involved for models and anyone using testers or getting their makeup done people can overlook. I have just been on a fashion show job for the past 4 days and unfortunately even though I had observed unhygienic practises and confronted the qualified artists (who I will not name) I still ended up taking home a nasty eye infection from fashion weekend. I do feel my safety concerns were dismissed as if it was part of my job to put up with these unhealthy conditions. My message is not intended to critique the women who I trusted with my eye and skin health but to raise awareness of importance of hygiene practises amongst artists. If you are getting your makeup done or using any testers, check everything has been cleaned to your standard even if someone scoffs at your concerns. This is not my first time receiving an ailment from a dirty makeup brush and unfortunately in my line of work I doubt it will be the last but please be aware of this if you ever come close to a makeup kit so you can keep yourself safe and healthy. Ps – It been diagnosed as a staff infection by the doctor and I’m now on medication #unretouched #nofilter #fuckingsick
The infection took to Page’s right eye, and she says she was ordered by doctors to take “a month off work – a month without makeup” which ultimately impacted her income, given there were “a fair few” cancellations from clients with tight deadlines.
Page anticipated this, but what took the rising star by surprise was just how prevalent this hardly-discussed OH&S hazard really is.
As Page explains, models contracting viruses and infections from poorly kept makeup is “super common.” It doesn’t stop at golden staph either. “Herpes is a big one. Because it’s so easy to spread, all you need is a couple of skin cells.”
“There are cases of MRSA [a germ that commonly lives on the skin or in the nose or mouth of people] getting contracted in beauty salons when people do treatments. There are so many cases of waxing where there’s been double dipping.”
The issue of proper makeup hygiene isn’t unique to Australia and happens “worldwide” according to Page. However, the reluctance of suffering models to come forward, bar rare cases such as Hungarian model and actress Barbara Palvin, makes it a difficult fight to win. A reluctance that Page understand.
“I think it’s humiliating for people. They probably feel really naked to come out and say they have a condition because they can lose face with the people around them. Also, people’s medical conditions are personal so there’s no real reason why they should feel the need to share it. “
Having now seen how widespread the issue is, and being personally affected by it, Page is intent on being heard. After all, it’s not an issue that just affects her industry. “It’s not just models, it’s all women, men that wear makeup – it’s a scary thing.”
As Page sees it, there’s an obvious solution to ensuring what happens to her never affects another model. Currently, the code of conduct for professional makeup artistry is “not a law, just a guideline” something Page feels needs to change.
“No one is held accountable for guidelines. I actually think makeup artists should have a unionised group – to be a part of the group maybe you get some deals and cheaper insurance – but a governing body of what the rules are who can issue licenses. They can put pressure on the companies to only use their accredited makeup artists who have stringent hygiene control.”
Change can be made at a grass roots level too. Page has some sage advice for civilians who wear makeup and use sample products.
“Don’t share brushes with you friends. Also never use testers on your skin unless they’re from pump bottles. Do you really want to be putting something – even just on the back of your hand — that’s been on someone else’s lips?”