When it comes to sampling chips and dip at a barbecue or sampling makeup at the beauty bar, I've always maintained the same philosophy — no double-dipping allowed. But, even if you don't see the double-dip in action, it doesn't mean the product is safe; in fact, when it comes to makeup, more often than not, it isn't. The truth is that even if you practice good hygiene, the thousands of mall visitors who frequent the same makeup counter, and even the workers behind it, probably don't. That's what Dr. Elizabeth Brooks of Philadelphia's Jefferson Medical College found when she conducted an extensive study on public makeup testers. Her research revealed staph, strep, and even E. coli bacteria on makeup testers, and on high-traffic mall days, like Saturdays, the percentage of contamination on tester products was 100 percent.
But even Dr. Brooks, who's tested hundreds of makeup counters and has seen the worst of it, isn't afraid of the germs lurking in the samples — she just knows how to handle it. You, too, can brave the beauty bar when you practice safe makeup application. Learn how when you read more.
- Don't dip — Whenever possible, use sample products that don't require finger dipping. Squeeze bottles of creams and lip glosses are always a better alternative to lotion jars or pots of lip gloss.
- Forgo communal tools — Never use shared brushes, and always opt for disposable applicators instead.
- Wipe it clean — Remove or scrape the top layer of lipstick, and always wipe the surface of makeup samples with a tissue and some alcohol. Don't test any products where the top surface cannot be removed, like a face cream or eye cream.
- Be mindful of where you apply — The study also showed that cosmetics used around the lips, eyes, or nose are the worst, resulting in the spread of afflictions like cold sores, conjunctivitis, or pink eye. Therefore, avoid any products that must be directly applied to the nose, eyes, or mouth, especially mascara.
- Be your own healthy advocate — If you don't see rubbing alcohol or disposable applicators, ask for them, and don't be afraid to ask for individual samples as well. Just because they're not out on the counter doesn't mean they're not available.