University Runs Tests On Germs Contained In Makeup Testers, Here’s What You Need To Know

Before you hand over your hand-earned cash for a new beauty product, you often want to see how it looks first. That’s why stores like Ulta and Sephora and makeup counters in department stores allow customers try out their products first with testers.

You might think nothing of swiping on some lipstick from a tester, or daubing on foundation to ensure it matches your skin tone. But it’s more likely you have wondered who else used the tester before you and whether he or she has passed along bacteria or viruses.

Given how many people go through a store every day, should you worry that those communal makeup testers are actually unhygienic?

makeup sample photo
Getty Images | Bryan Steffy

Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Rowan University ran a study on makeup tester germs, and the results are a bit shocking.

“More than half of all testers were contaminated, and we found staph, strep, and E. coli bacteria from feces,” Elizabeth Yesuratnam Brooks, a former professor of biological science who ran the study, told Allure. She added that by using the testers, “you can contract pink eye, infections, or even viruses like herpes or hepatitis.”

In fact, a California woman is now suing Sephora, claiming that she contracted oral herpes after using lipstick from one of the tubes on display at a Hollywood location of the cosmetics store chain.

lipstick photo
Flickr | borosjuli

Yikes! So is there any way to test cosmetics safely? Here are just a few tips and tricks:

1. Shop on weekdays.

Brooks explained that her study compared testers from different days of the week, and Saturdays were the most contaminated. You can probably blame that on the abundance of shoppers who are in stores on weekends versus weekdays.

She recommended Wednesday morning and Friday morning to Allure as the cleanest days to shop, since the stores she studied had low foot traffic the nights before.

2. Leave it to the pros.

An in-store makeup artist will likely be a lot more hygienic when he or she applies testers for you, thanks to their training and experience.

“[MUAs] are trained by the cosmetic companies to use sanitary measures, including disinfecting their hands, sharpening pencils, and spray makeup brushes with antibacterial spray between customers,” Cheryl Krebs, a makeup artist at Bloomingdale’s in New York City, told Prevention.

You should expect your MUA to have a trusty bottle of isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) nearby, used to disinfect both tools and beauty products.

makeup counter photo
Getty Images | Gabriela Maj

3. Don’t try makeup on your lips or eyes.

Keep bacteria or viruses from getting into your eyes, mouth or nose by just testing products on your hand and then wiping it off immediately.

“Always try opened containers, like lipsticks and shadows, on your hand,”  makeup artist Kimara Ahnert told Fox News. “Avoid testing mascara. It’s always best to go with a new one. And never use makeup samples that look half empty. These have had multiple users.”

You should also try to use single-use samples if you can. “I would try to find samples that are in packets when possible,” cosmetic surgeon and dermatologist Dr. Joel Schlessinger told Fox News. You may have to ask the cashiers or MUAs for these samples directly, but it’s worth it.

Do you have other tips for keeping germs at bay when testing beauty products? Let us know.