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Gross! 1 in 5 Makeup Counter Products Has Something Growing On It

We’re arming ourselves with endless alcohol wipes the next time we hit up a makeup counter. Photo: makeherup.com

Public Service Announcement: Stay away from makeup counter products! Or, at the very least, don’t put anything near your lips or eyes, and use lots of alcohol to disinfect everything. Recently Good Morning America performed an undercover test of makeup counter products and found that one out five contained mold, yeast, or fecal matter growth. Um, ew.

GMA visited 10 stores in two states to get their findings, and their results showed that there was significant growth of the above mentioned microbes on 20 percent of the products tested. The effects of using one of these infected items? Possible rashes, breakouts, infections and more, says GMA. But you shouldn’t be too worried, says Dr. Philip Tierno, director of microbiology at New York University’s Langone Medical center. Just “realize that if you have an open cut, you might not want to go that route of using makeup that has been used by other people before you.”

There are solutions to these nasty makeup encounters, assuming that you take a few precautions. Here’s a condensed list of recommendations from GMA (which we whole-heartedly support):

1) Be wary of even disposable wands because you never know how many people double-dip the samples.

2) 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.

3) When testing eyeshadow and eyeliner, use a disposable applicator and test it on your hand, not your eyes.

4) Ask the salesperson to sterilize lipstick tubes with alcohol before you try them. Our “GMA” tests showed that kills the bacteria.

5) Test concealer on your inner wrist, not your face, where the lighter coloring will usually match your under-eye area.

6) 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.

7) 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. [BB Note: This policy is even in place in big drugstores.]

For the full list of recommendations, read the rest of GMA’s article on counter products here. Even more reason to love Birchbox samples and trying products at home! (Yes, slightly shameless plug, even for us).

Are you as completely grossed out by this as we are? 

—Candice

Finally convinced to take the plunge into a box? Sign up for Birchbox here.

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