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Herpes and E. Coli Found in Beauty Testers

Ladies, beware next time you go to the beauty counter!  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 we’ve 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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