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Avoid the spread of germs and disease when sampling makeup at the cosmetic counter

Keep it clean when sampling makeup

Preventing the spread of germs and...

PALM DESERT, Calif. - In October, a California woman filed a lawsuit claiming she contracted herpes after sampling lipstick at a Sephora store in Hollywood. Since the holidays are here and many will be headed to the mall for last-minute shopping this weekend, it's important to follow a few safety tips when testing out makeup to avoid disease or THE spread of germs.

Dr. Timothy Jochen, from Countour Dermatology says fungal or bacterial diseases like staph are more likely to spread through makeup than STDs and viruses like herpes, which typically die when exposed to temperature change. He says those with outbreaks of these diseases are more likely to have had it over many years, just without symptoms. 

"People will blame things on things they most recently did, but it may not be related at all," Jochen said. "In my practice, I've never had anyone say they've gotten anything from using sample products."

He said to play it safe, consider wiping off the top layer of a lipstick sample before trying it on. Celebrity makeup artist Ruby Vargas agrees, and also recommends using separate sample applicators to apply products. She also says double dipping with the same applicator should be avoided. Here are some more tips to implement:

  • Test makeup on a hand instead of directly on your face.
  • Never try makeup samples if you have open wounds on your face.
  • When sampling mascaras, ask for a plastic disposable applicator to avoid the spread of pink eye.
  • Before using pencil lip liners or eye liners, sharpen them first.
  • If a sample product looks empty, ask a sales representative for a new one to avoid bacteria that may have gathered at the bottom of a container.
  • When trying out powders in store, use a disposable pad. 
  • Protect your own personal makeup from bacteria buildup by following expiration dates, cleaning brushes weekly and staying selfish. Never share your makeup with someone else.

CBS Local 2's Kelley Moody did reach out to Sephora for this story. They responded with a written statement saying the following:

Sephora's foremost priority is the health and safety of our clients.
While some bacteria is common in public places, if attended to swiftly, most can be effectively treated before causing skin irritation or infection. Not only do we have hygiene stations available for client use throughout our stores, our testers are also regularly sanitized, replaced and replenished, and our associates are trained on industry hygiene standards to assist our
 clients.

Sephora's entire retail concept is rooted in self-discovery and our goal first and foremost is to enable an immersive environment that caters to clients' desire to learn and play uninhibited. That said, we take every effort to ensure we are following best practices in our stores. We also offer many other ways for clients to test products, including guided assistance from our associates, personalized samples, digital tools that allow users to try on hundreds of products virtually and a monthly subscription service featuring prepackaged deluxe samples.

 When asked to comment about the aforementioned lawsuit, a Sephora representative responded:

While it is our policy not to comment on litigation, the health and safety of our clients is our foremost priority. We take product hygiene very seriously and we are dedicated to following best practices in our stores.


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