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In-store guide to testing makeup

If you are a makeup lover like me,  stopping in a department store or Sephora is a special treat because it allows you to get hands-on with beauty products for a better idea of color intensity, texture and blendability. But have you ever thought about how many people did the same?

It’s been a long time since I learned that sharing eye and lip products with others can be the culprit for transmitting persistent, communicable illnesses like pink eye and herpes. Just recently, I discovered I can even contaminate my own beauty products solo by using my bare fingertips to dispense my creams and cosmetics. Putting two and two together, I’d never think of putting a tester near my face, but a recent secret investigation conducted by “Good Morning America” brings the “yuk factor” and associated risks into much clearer light.

Allure magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Linda Wells compared makeup testers to petri dishes, and she was right on the money. When the “Good Morning America” team visited 10 stores in two different states, they uncovered a whopping 20 percent, or one in five samples, which contained significant amounts of fecal matter, mold or yeast.

Wells offered 10 steps to the “Good Morning America” audience to ensure you don’t go home with more than you bargained for when making your next beauty buy.

1) Narrow down your choices by doing research about the makeup you’d like to buy on the Internet before you visit the retailer in-person. Come armed with a narrowed-down list of choices to limit the number of samples you’ll need to try.

2) Don’t trust disposable wands, since double-dippers who came before you may have already contaminated the samples.

3) Avoid foundations, lip glosses and moisturizers packaged in open jars. Any containers that allow fingers inside, yours or a stranger’s are particularly vulnerable to bacteria buildup.

4) Eyeshadows and eyeliners should be tested on your hand, rather than your eyes, using a disposable applicator.

5) When testing foundations, use a disposable applicator and apply a small amount to your neck, avoiding your face and lips.

6) Carry an alcohol towelette in your purse or request the salesperson sterilize tubes of lipstick you are interested in trying with alcohol before use to kill bacteria.

7) Apply new lipstick shades to your fingertip and never directly to, or near your mouth.

8 ) Match concealer samples against the lighter skin tone of your inner wrist, similar to your under eye area, rather than on your face.

9) Request the salesperson open a fresh tester and provide you with a disposable wand each time you dip to sample mascara. If your only option is from a used tester bottle, ask the clerk to describe the mascara to you in lieu of sampling it.

10) See if the retailer has a “buy and try” policy that allows you to purchase, and then try your new beauty products at home with the option to return them for a refund if they don’t meet your expectations.

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Lauren Stewart
By: Lauren Stewart

Lauren Stewart is a freelancer writer from Michigan. She enjoys writing about beauty, health and fitness! She is passionate about learning new ways to take control of her health and wellness and is a makeup and skincare junkie! You can contact her by emailing