Fashion & Beauty

Beware the make-up testers that can carry herpes and salmonella, Expert says

They say you should always try before you buy, and for many women, it’s no different when looking for makeup.

But using make-up testers in stores is probably not a good idea, a microbiologist has warned, because of the risk of herpes and salmonella.

Using the same lipstick as other people can mean picking up tiny droplets of their saliva which carry the herpes virus.

Meanwhile, mascara wands or eyeliner, whether tried out as testers on make-up stands or shared between friends, may lead to a nasty case of ‘pink-eye’.

Other risks from shared make-up include salmonella and e.coli, as well as skin flare-ups from bacteria on other people’s faces.

Dr Amreen Bashir, a microbiologist from Aston University in Birmingham, said: ‘Most people would never consider sharing a toothbrush with a stranger, yet they happily use makeup testers. There is a real risk of catching bacterial infections and herpes, as we all have different organisms living on us and one cosmetic tester can be used by 30 or 40 different people, which spreads the risk of infection.’

A US woman is suing a beauty firm, claiming she picked up the herpes simplex virus, which causes cold sores and is carried by more than two-thirds of the population.

Dr. Bashir confirmed this is possible in an article for the website The Conversation, in which she wrote: ‘Herpes causes blisters on the lips and around the mouth that can last up to ten days.

‘Lipsticks and make-up brushes that touch these parts of the face can spread the infection to other people.’

A study of 67 cosmetics last year found three-quarters contained the staphylococcus bug. While this can live harmlessly on the skin, there are concerns that shared make-up could transmit a less friendly version – methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, the deadly superbug MRSA.

When it comes to eye makeup, Dr. Bashir writes: ‘Studies have revealed that 43 percent of eyeliners and mascara wands contain contaminants. I know many friends who have been left with a “pink eye” after sharing mascara or using ancient mascara that’s been sitting in their make-up bags.’

Finally, make-up brushes should not be shared because they gather bacteria including Staph aureus, E.coli, and streptococcus. Dr. Astor said: ‘If all of these horror stories tell us one thing, it’s to stay away from sharing make-up products, both among your friends and especially in cosmetic stores.’

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