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Curly Nikki

4 Ways To Test Your Makeup Safely

By January 27th, 202111 Comments
4 Ways To Test Your Makeup Safely
by McKenzie Renae of

Every girl loves playing around at the beauty counters! We can get so wrapped up in all of the pretty colors, new collections, and seasonal trends, that we tend to forget about proper sanitation when testing out products at the counter.

I read a startling and disturbing fact from Rowan University’s study on makeup tester germs. They reported from their study that “more than half of all testers were contaminated, and we found staph, strep, and E. coli bacteria from feces.” Gross!!

Ok, so here’s the up side to things. I know most of you ladies want to see how a color looks on you before you purchase it. Here are 4 of the best ways you can test your makeup safely!

1. Ask the salesperson to prep the tester

For lipstick: Ask for the lipstick to be sprayed or dipped in alcohol, then scrape off the top layer, and use a new, disposable applicator (not their finger) — or a brush sprayed with alcohol to apply.

For lip and eye liners: Because all of the contamination is on the surface layer, sharpening works for lip and eye liners.

For powders: Powders can be just as germy as creams, so you can try bringing your own makeup alcohol wipes to clean them. Make sure to wipe the entire surface of the tester, and still have the salesperson scrape it afterwards.

2. Shop on weekdays

From the Rowan University study, they took samples from different days of the week, and Saturdays were the most contaminated days (b/c more people shop during the weekend). The least-germy batches were Friday morning and Wednesday morning, since the nights before tend to be low-traffic.

3. Beware of the pot

Don’t try anything that comes in an open jar people dip a finger into, such as lotion, lip gloss, or loose eye shadow, because then the contamination isn’t just on the top layer — it’s throughout, so there’s no way to clean it (unless you’re sure it’s a new jar).

4. Get cheeky

It’s fine to apply foundation, blush, or any other products to the back of your hand, or jawline (the worst that could happen is that you get a zit). Unless you know you’re getting a clean sample, avoid applying testers to your eyes or lips, which are direct entry points for germs and can lead to infections and viruses.

Don’t you feel better that you know all of this?!

Happy (sanitary) makeup shopping 🙂


  • Hilary B. says:

    Great tips! I often see grown women applying the lipstick testers directly on their lips at Sephora, grossssss. Testers and I aren't cool like that, unless it's in a pump.

  • Anonymous says:

    Thank you for this one!

  • Anonymous says:

    Great tips, good to know!

  • Anonymous says:

    I don't test anything on my face anymore since getting a cold sore after sampling make-up. Even though I used the sanitary disposable applictors that the store provides, I don't think a lot of people realize that you are supposed to use a new applicator each time after each use. I can't count how many women I have seen use a disposable applicator then dip it back into the product and use it on their faces again. I got a coldsore once and I will never do that again, no thanks…no ma'am!

  • Anonymous says:

    this is nice to know!

  • Annie L. says:

    Sometimes it's just inevitable regardless of your hygiene interventions. I've gotten an eye infection and colds from various NYC Sephoras so it's life.

    If it's too much for you, their VERY LIBERAL return policy and generous samples they'll make on the spot of anything you request are great alternatives!

  • Meika says:

    I do feel better knowing this. I make sure to watch the salesreps santize items that i want to test out….me and germs are not friends at all

  • Lola says:

    Wonderful tips. I have practiced these same safe tips for years, although I usually never put any testers on my face. The back of the hand or inner arm works just fine.

  • Anonymous says:

    I wear makeup, but mineral like bare minerals. I only purchase a concelor from clinque, the salesperson helped me find a color because I needed it to cover my acne scarring only, that occurred in high-school( I am 22) and still Breakout around my time of the month. I never wear lipstick or colored lipgloss, only clear lipgloss and EOS balm. I know there is germs in the testers, I have seen people at Walmart test out thing opening them like lotion and hair grease. When I was younger I use to sometimes see fingers in the jar, so I had to open it myself to make sure.

    Megan Montgomery

  • Anonymous says:

    The sharpener would need to be sanitized as well…

  • Anonymous says:

    I don't wear makeup, but these tips were very helpful & I will definitely pass these tips along to family & friends.

    Brooke B.

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