Testers: The Dirty Truth

I’m a health conscious lady, but you’d be disappoined surprised to know that there are a lot of things I choose to ignore. Like grams of sugar in a glass of wine or calories in phad thai. I have a soul thank you very much and would like to enjoy my favorite things in peace.

There is one thing, however, that I no longer choose to ignore: contamination risks of makeup testers.

Since I am a ‘try it before you buy it’ kind of lady, I like to apply a product or ask for a take-home sample prior to purchase. It keeps me in check–I have been known to make many impulse beauty purchases–and it’s helped me avoid some regrettable post-register purchases.

When I sample, however, I don’t apply testers like lipsticks directly to my lips or eyeliners directly to my eyes, but I have been known to use disposable mascara wands or lip gloss applicators to try items out.

And while one wand = one use for Femilady, I have always known there are double dippers out there–please stop, that is nasty–who dunk their ‘disposable’ applicator in the product, apply, and dunk again for a second round.

So my shopping trip last weekend–post vino with one of my enablers best friends–inspired me to explore the dirty truth of testers.

The findings are, well, nasty.

I found one study conducted by Good Morning America, that revealed…

…one out of every five, or 20 percent, of samples we tested from 10 stores across two states showed significant growth of mold, yeast or fecal matter.

A study cited in Allure‘s Jan 2013 issue, reports even nastier numbers:

67 percent of makeup testers contaminated with staph, strep, or E.coli on the average midweek day.

On the weekends? Way worse. Generally, 100 percent of makeup testers are contaminated on on the weekends when traffic is highest.

This is a serious problem for Femilady since I am a huge proponent of “try it before you buy it”.

What’s a beauty buyer to do? ABCNews.com breaks it down:

  1. Research the makeup you want online before you go to the store, so your choices are narrowed and you don’t have to try as many.
  2. Be wary of even disposable wands because you never know how many people double-dip the samples.
  3. Stay away from open jars of lip gloss, moisturizer and foundations, because people may have dipped their fingers into them and hands are hotbeds of germs.
  4. When testing eyeshadow and eyeliner, use a disposable applicator and test it on your hand, not your eyes.
  5. To test a new foundation, apply it to your neck, away from your face and lips.
  6. Ask the salesperson to sterilize lipstick tubes with alcohol before you try them.
  7. To try a new lipstick shade, apply it to the pad of your finger, not anywhere near your mouth.
  8. Test concealer on your inner wrist, not your face, where the lighter coloring will usually match your under-eye area.
  9. Never test mascara from a used tester bottle. Ask the clerk to open a fresh tester and give you a disposable wand. Dip each wand only once, to avoid contaminating the sample for the next customer. If a new tester isn’t an option, don’t test at all. Instead, ask the salesperson to describe the mascara to you.
  10. Many stores now have a “buy and try” policy, where you can purchase cosmetics, take them home to try on, and then get a full refund if you’re not happy.

So apologies for being the bearer of bad beauty news, but hopefully these nuggets of vomit inducing helpful info will keep you safe from infections and viruses.

Here’s to smart shopping!