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I�ve seen my wife go to a makeup counter and try on samples and I thought, �Hmmm... not sure about that.� She assured me that they clean the samples between uses.
Well, they�re supposed to, but a woman in New York is suing a cosmetics company to get the industry to provide individual disposable samples. She claims she got herpes from a lipstick an employee applied on her. Is that possible? Maybe.
She claimed that two days after she tried the sample her lip swelled and she was diagnosed with a cold sore. Cold sores come from an infection with the Herpes simplex virus type one, or HSV-1, and there�s no cure. The virus stays dormant in nerve cells until reactivated by anything from sun exposure to emotional distress. Up to ninety percent of adult Americans have been exposed to HSV-1.
For most people, these infections are rarely serious, but HSV-1 infections of the eye is a leading cause of blindness in the US. The woman suing may have acquired a primary HSV-1 infection from the lipstick if a previous customer had an active infection. But she may have simply reactivated a latent HSV-1 she already had.
It�ll be challenging for her to prove the cold sore came from the lipstick sample, but it is possible to contract a variety of bacteria from sharing makeup, especially eye makeup. Samples of makeup displays reveal half and on busy weekends, all samples, contain bacteria like staphylococcus, micrococcus, pseudomonas and E. coli. We don�t know if makeup samples can harbor viruses, but some viruses are very stable so it�s possible.
If you insist on trying sample makeup, take precautions. Try squeezed lotions; ask makeup to be cleaned with alcohol; lipstick with the top scraped off; and don�t share makeup brushes.