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Herpes and E.Coli Found in Beauty Testers! The Scary Truth at the Makeup Counter

Herpes and E.Coli Found in Beauty Testers! The Scary Truth at the Makeup Counter


The next time you go to reach for the tester at your favorite makeup counter, we would seriously urge you to think twice. Sharing makeup even with your closest friends isn’t the wisest idea to begin with, never mind an entire mall. Which is why we weren’t surprised that makeup testers at beauty stores were found to be virtual germ incubators think herpes, pink eye, and E. coli. The L.A. Times reported that those were just some of the serious infections found nesting in communal makeup brushes.

Dr. Zein Obagi, a Beverly Hills-based dermatologist, explains to the paper, “If a woman has a cut on her lip and borrows lipstick from someone who has a cold sore, she’ll get a cold sore. You can pass herpes [the cold sore virus], conjunctivitis [pink eye] and all sorts of things through sharing makeup.”

While this may be an extreme case, the amount of bacteria one is susceptible to when sampling makeup is astounding. The article cites a two-year study from Rowan University on public makeup testers. Conducted by Dr. Elizabeth Brooks, the study found that on an average Saturday, 100 percent of the makeup at cosmetic counters was tainted with staph, strep, and E. coli bacteria. (Just a friendly reminder, but E. coli is normally associated with feces).

Now that weve completely grossed you out, there are some solutions (if avoiding makeup testers proves to be too difficult for you). Instead of makeup brushes, Brooks suggests using disposable applicators, which most counters carry. As for the actual makeup, Brooks insists, clean the surface of the makeup tester with a tissue or a tissue dipped in alcohol before applying makeup. While these solutions may reduce the chance of infection, the safest way to stay healthy is to avoid communal testers completely.

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  • Jo WOods

    Wow, that is downright scary stuff dude. Seriously.


  • FrankZ

    Depending on which data set you look at, roughly 70-90% of people carry the herpes cold sore virus even if they don’t show symptoms. That means if you’ve kissed more than 1 person, you’ve been exposed to it. If fact, most people contract it from their parents. I think the media should do its job and treat it like what it is: everywhere.

  • Nathan Eckman

    I feel bad digging this.

  • srjdryjd

    our website: now buyy.COM


  • E. Edwin

    Do people really use makeup testers on their faces? I always just test the color on the back of my hand or inside of my wrist. Seriously, ew.

  • Shellie

    What happens during fashion week. Don’t the models share the same pallets there as well? Should the providers of make up at these events have individual packets of make-up? I think we all have to be safe. and it looks like they use the same brushes as well and make up. Often times they are applying the make up with their fingers. Are hands washed at these events between each application?


    That’s very important things for women…thans alot…

  • ELE Cosmetica

    Great article, thank you. I use a product to remove eye makeup. It cleans, conditions, preps and hydrates the skin and lashes. It’s really rather remarkable.

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