Picture of woman with makeup allergies so makeup artists can avoid lawsuits

Lawsuits and Lipstick: How makeup artists can avoid makeup allergy lawsuits

You visit a client, a bride, to apply makeup before her wedding. Halfway through your application, she mentions that her eyes feel strange, and you notice the skin around her eyes swelling. You try to clean off the makeup, but the swelling continues, and an hour later, her eyes have nearly swollen shut.

As she heads to the hospital, she’s angry and upset. She has to cancel her big day. Soon after, her lawyer contacts you for reimbursement of the tens of thousands of dollars in wedding expenses. And all this because of a swollen-eye-inducing makeup allergy.

As a makeup artist, it’s easy to focus on getting a look right. But do you ever think about makeup allergies? Your choice of makeup is key not only for enhancing your clients’ appearance. It’s how makeup artists can avoid makeup allergy lawsuits.

Let’s explore how serious makeup allergies can be for makeup artists and the best ways to avoid related claims.

Are makeup allergies actually worth worrying about?

Cosmetic companies are more likely to be sued for severe allergic reactions caused by the makeup they manufacture than you. However, makeup artists can be held liable for makeup allergies that occur after they provide their services (do the job). As law firm Dyer, Garofalo, Mann & Schultz L.P.A. argues, makeup artists are “sophisticated users.” Your familiarity and expertise with makeup mean you should know better than to cause an allergic reaction and can be proven liable if you do. 

Here are the top five ingredients to avoid in makeup, as shared by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA):

  1. Natural rubbers, like latex.
  2. Fragrances, like Benzyl alcohol, Citral, and Isoeugenol.
  3. Preservatives, like Formaldehyde and Methylisothiazolinone.
  4. Dyes and color additives, like coal-tar, and p-phenylenediamine.
  5. Metals, like gold or nickel.

Some of these common cosmetic allergens are in most products on store shelves. That means much of what you carry in your makeup bag can cause allergies. So let’s talk about what avoiding makeup allergy lawsuits as a makeup artist looks like.

3 Tips to Prevent Cosmetic Lawsuits as a Makeup Artist

While ingredients in the list of available cosmetics aren’t yours to decide, you can follow these tips to help you reduce the chances of a makeup allergy lawsuit, as recommended by fellow makeup artists, our claims experience, and other professionals. And these will also help you protect yourself better in the case you do end up in a lawsuit because of the allergies caused by the cosmetics you use as a makeup artist.

1. Use an intake form.

You can often avoid allergies so long as you know about them, and the best way to find out is to ask the client themselves. Intake forms allow your clients (especially new clients) to share any possible issues before you start their appointment.

These forms should ask specific, pointed questions, like the following:

  • Do you have allergies or sensitive skin?
  • Have you ever had a negative reaction to a cleaning or cosmetic product? If so, what?
  • Which makeup types and brands do you regularly use?

Getting this info will only help you if you are familiar with the allergens in your makeup. If you glance over a list of your client’s allergies and aren’t sure of the ingredients in your cosmetics, it won’t protect you. Take time to become familiar with the possible allergens in your makeup.

We also suggest sending the intake forms early so you have time to review the forms before starting your appointment. An electronic document signing software can help you with this. Or you can invite clients to come early enough that they can finish the forms with enough time for you to review them before the appointment begins.

2. Contracts and Disclaimers

Your contract may give you additional protection against makeup allergy claims.

Most important for avoiding makeup allergy lawsuits is a disclaimer section. This is where you can explain that you are not guaranteeing the quality or the safety of the products you use. No, this isn’t a license to use terrible makeup, but it is a useful tool for setting expectations. You are a makeup artist first, not a cosmetics retailer who recommends makeup for your client to buy. In the case of a lawsuit, such a clarification can work in your favor.

In addition, have an allergy disclaimer to let clients know that makeup allergies are common for people with sensitive skin. We also recommend reinforcing your disclaimer verbally. Telling clients about potential allergy risks face-to-face will help them know what to expect if their skin begins to tingle, swell up, or get a rash. It’ll also help them maintain their trust in you since you took the time to warn them.

3. Carry allergy-free makeup options.

When you discover that a client may be sensitive to one of your preferred cosmetics, you should have a backup plan. There are a lot of options available in the market today that work well for those with sensitive skin and allergies. But you aren’t likely to find them if you aren’t purposefully looking for them.

After all, many common cosmetic allergens, like fragrances, dyes, and preservatives, are in most of the name-brand cosmetics, making them hard to avoid if you aren’t specifically searching for allergy safe products. In addition, even many “clean” brands of makeup still have cosmetic allergens despite saying the contrary, as a 2022 study in the National Library of Medicine showed.

Here are some allergy-free makeup products to consider for your clients with sensitive skin, as recommended by Healthline:

  • Clinique
  • Marcelle
  • bareMinerals
  • Tarte Cosmetics
  • Tower 28 Beauty
  • Almay
  • Jane Iredale
  • Colorescience
  • Youngblood Mineral Cosmetics
  • VMV Hypoallergenics

Be Prepared For Allergic Reactions

It’s difficult to prevent every type of allergic reaction, but that doesn’t mean that you and your makeup artist business should be unprotected. If, despite your best efforts, your client still has a severe reaction due to makeup allergies, you can protect yourself with the right insurance coverage.

WellnessPro Insurance can protect you from makeup allergy-related claims. Our liability coverage can defend you against allegations and pay for client medical bills that you become liable for from those allergies.

Apply for a quote here.

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