By Norain F.

A woman filed a lawsuit against the popular cosmetics store, Sephora and claimed that she ‘contracted HSV-1 infection (which can cause oral herpes) from sampling lipstick’ at the makeup store. The case is still unresolved but it’s really intriguing to us: are makeup testers actually safe for use?

It’s actually surprising that we’re not exposed to the risk of using makeup testers more. Everybody walks into the store believing that everything is all well-cleaned when in reality, those makeup testers harbor just as much germ as your toilet seat. And this does not only occur in drugstores, in fact, it’s just as prominent in department makeup stores such as Sephora. Makeup testers in stores have been found to be the breeding ground of all sorts of bacteria such as E. coli and staph which will lead to acne breakouts and rashes. Most strains of E. coli are harmless though but some can cause you serious illnesses such as urinary tract infections, respiratory illness and pneumonia.

So should you use makeup testers in department stores? Well, the answer is yes and no. You should be more careful when it comes to products like lipsticks, glosses and mascara because it’s in liquid form. Bacteria thrives in moisture-ridden places and a tube of lip gloss makes the perfect place for them breed. Testers aren’t always changed regularly so chances are, that same tube of lip gloss has probably been swatched on hundreds of lips. And you don’t know where those lips have been…

Powder products like blushes, compact powder and bronzers are a little more forgiving because they contain little to no moisture at all. Though they can still harbour bacteria, they’re still relatively safer than a liquid product. The same warning is applicable when it comes to sharing products. Personally, I don’t encourage you sharing makeup products with your friends or anyone a all for that matter.

But if you absolutely have no other choice, take these precautions to at least reduce the risk of infection:
Sharpen your pencil products before each application to minimise the exposure of bacteria to your skin. When you remove a few layers of the pencil, it’s going to reduce the risk of bacterial infection on your skin. Use an antibacterial tissue wipe to disinfect the tip of foundation pumps. Residue of the product exposed to the air may contain bacteria. Always sanitise your makeup tools. Tweezers, spoolies, eyeshadow applicators – everything must be sanitised before using it on your face. Carry a hand sanitizer at all times so you’ll be able to disinfect your tools on the go.

However, the safest route would be to never share your personal makeup products with anybody. It’s better to be safe than sorry.