Stop! Don’t touch that lipstick! And forget about the foundation, the moisturizer and the mascara.
A two-year study of makeup testers detected the presence of strep, staph and E. coli bacteria as well as traces of the cold-sore virus herpes, and viral conjunctivitis, or pink eye.
The study, by Elizabeth Brooks, M.D., of Jefferson Medical Center, was conducted when she was on the faculty of Rowan University in New Jersey. Brooks focused on testers in drug and department stores; she and her researchers took samples on Saturdays, the highest-traffic day in those stores.
And how the germs and viruses get there is pretty gross. “E. coli equals feces, ” Brooks said to The Los Angeles Times. “That means someone went to the bathroom, didn’t wash their hands and then stuck their fingers in that moisturizer.” E. coli, often associated with food poisoning, causes cramps and diarrhea and can be fatal.
While it’s a fairly safe bet that no one has ever died from a makeup sample, the federal Food and Drug Administration does warn consumers of the “risk of contamination” from public makeup testers.
If you want to reduce the risk, the Times recommends, using single-use cotton swabs or disposable makeup applicators—but never shared brushes. (Actually, it’s not a good idea to swap makeup or makeup applicators even with your best friends. No offense or anything.)
The safest action of all, though, is to never sample cosmetics at all. And while that may seem unreasonable (you’ll probably end up with a few lipsticks you’ll never use), the possible alternatives – from E. coli to herpes – are much worse. (The Los Angeles Times via Betty Confidential)
Tip: Shop at Sephora! If you don’t like the product, you can return it for a full refund! You won’t need to sample!