Is It Safe to Try Before You Buy? Experts Weigh in on the Cleanliness of Sampling Makeup

   By SheSpeaksTeam  Nov 06, 2017

For those of us who have a love affair with makeup, shopping in a store that allows customers to try on products before purchasing is like being a kid in a candy store. But just how safe is it to try on makeup with fellow shoppers and all of the germs that may come with it? In a recent incident, a California woman sued a Sephora after she claims to have contracted oral herpes from trying on a sample lipstick in their store.

Today reports about the lawsuit in California and whether or not it is safe to try before you buy. Dr. Dr. Whitney Bowe, a dermatologist based in New York City, explains that we can never be sure if a sample product is germ-free in stores. So if you want to avoid potentially being infected with a number of bacterias including staph, E. coli, and strep you should steer clear of trying on things you must apply to your face like lipsticks, blushes, and eye makeup.

Even though stores offer disposable single-use applicators, there is no telling how many people have double-dipped. Dr. Bowe explains how many department store samples that are tested in the lab show they are harboring many harmful bacteria. Sharing makeup with friends is also a no-no if you want to avoid the spread of disease. Dr. Bowe says, “You never know which makeup products can become contaminated with germs (or) bacteria as we all harbor bacteria on our skin. Never share anything that comes into direct contact with another person's skin or mucus membranes.”

Sephora explains that their staff is trained to keep their products clean, but can they really be watching for microscopic bacteria at all times? A Sephora spokesperson explains, “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.”

What do you think of the recent lawsuit filed against Sephora by a woman who claims to have contracted oral herpes while trying on lipstick in the store?

Do you feel comfortable trying on makeup in department stores when they offer samples?

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mara83 by mara83 | West Richland, WA
Apr 18, 2018

Pretty shocking! I do not try make up in department stores. The only way I would try would be if the sample was in an unopened package.

denovot by denovot | BROOKLYN, NY
Jan 26, 2018

I would NEVER try on a lip product or eye product, that is disgusting. Even IF the store follows the necessary precautions with disposable applicators etc, there will always be someone with poor hygiene slathering it on their skin or mouth, and there goes the whole product. I don't even use things that come in jars for risk of contaminating myself! You can buy these great empty airless pumps online and I fill my jarred products in those. All products should come in pumps or tubes!

Badassmama1026 by Badassmama1026 | Marietta, OH
Jan 05, 2018

I will use the samples on my hands but not on the face your just asking for it then

Shanaisrad80 by Shanaisrad80 | GENESEO, NY
Dec 09, 2017

I think the woman probably got herpes from being a hooker. Obviously she didn't purchase anything, and was only there doing her own makeup for free. Sephora does provide little Alcohol that you use to sanitize the spot of any palette or a lipstick. Also, HELLO you can just ask the employees and get 3 free samples of anything, every time you walk in! I spray my purse with my favorite purfumes! Lol! Hello Johnny Depp in my purse😂! Just don't be dumb when it comes to testing. Use that thing in between your ears ladies!!

Chandyb47 by Chandyb47 | Bakersfield, CA
Dec 05, 2017

I would never put anything on my face someone else may have used. I've tested blushers,etc. on my wrist but that's as far as Ill go. The threat of diseases is too great.

monteque by monteque | N LITTLE ROCK, AR
Nov 21, 2017

First of all that is nasty! Staph Infection??!!

KasperGrl by KasperGrl | Villa Rica, GA
Nov 15, 2017

I wouldn't want to test out samples that other people have used. I would much rather just get a sample size product that is essentially a one time (or few) use kind of thing.

ImaginativeCreativeYou by ImaginativeCreativeYou | WEST CHESTER, OH
Nov 11, 2017

Nope I don't feel comfortable trying on makeup in stores because I have very sensitive skin that breaks out easily. Also, I am aware of of the many germs out there.

Heathers2980 by Heathers2980 | Melrose , FL
Nov 11, 2017

I think they should have the 1 use samples. Customer can just take the small sample with them. Avon does it for thier lipsticks.

Missalisha2016 by Missalisha2016 | BATTLE CREEK, MI
Nov 09, 2017

Oh wow! I honestly never try on sample make up at stores like that. I never thought of herpes being on them but I've always had an image pop up in my head about how many people actually had their lips on a lipstick or eye shadow, so I never test samples like that at the store, its kind of weird if you think about to have samples like that?!

lisabrown by lisabrown | Camino, CA
Nov 06, 2017

I would only try makeup on my hand or wrist, never on my lips, eyes, face, that is not a safe thing to do.