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Warning: Those lipstick samples could be loaded with poop, investigation finds

By Mandy Matney

mmatney@islandpacket.com

Herpes can be spread by “sharing objects that have contact with saliva,” including lipstick. But that does not commonly happen because the virus only survives for a couple hours at best.
Herpes can be spread by “sharing objects that have contact with saliva,” including lipstick. But that does not commonly happen because the virus only survives for a couple hours at best.

After a California woman filed a lawsuit claiming she contracted herpes after trying on lipstick at a Sephora store in October, a recent investigation found several different forms of bacteria on makeup samples in major retail stores that could make you sick and cause infections.

The Rossen Reports investigative team at the Today Show tested makeup samples at three major retail stores for harmful bacteria. Samples at all three of the stores showed harmful bacteria on the makeup including E. coli and staph, according to the report. Even more revealing, the report showed, some samples tested positive for bacteria commonly found in feces.

“You could literally be applying and smearing someone else's fecal matter directly onto your lips,” Dr. Whitney Bowe, a dermatologist, told Today.

Makeup is “the perfect environment for germs to hang out” because of its waxy and moist texture, Dr. Kelly Reynolds, germ expert at the University of Arizona, told BuzzFeed.

A BuzzFeed investigation found that your own makeup products can contain bacteria, viruses, and fungi if you don’t clean it properly and apply it with dirty hands. It could also contain particles of your own poop.

“After three months, makeup will probably also have some fecal matter since it's usually stored and used in the bathroom next to the toilet,” Susan Whittier, associate professor at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, told BuzzFeed.

Buzzfeed and Today’s investigation findings are consistent with a 2005 study tracking public makeup testers over a two-year period that found staph, strep, and E. coli bacteria on makeup samples, the Los Angeles Times reported.

And dermatologist Toral Patel told the Chicago Tribune her patients have reported pinkeye, cold sores, bacterial infections and boils after trying on makeup in stores.

Patel said if you must try on makeup, it’s best to try it on a less noticeable spot near the jawline and never try it near or around an open wound, the Tribune reports.

Herpes is less commonly transmitted via objects because the virus only survives for a couple of hours at best, depending on how humid the environment, Dr. Amesh Adalja of Johns Hopkins Center recently told Live Science. But several medical experts have confirmed that it’s very possible to contract oral herpes from lipstick samples.

Adalja warned makeup users to avoid sampling on their hands because herpes particles could easily transfer from the hand to the mouth, according to Live Science.

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