Playing with testers at the cosmetic counter is a lot of fun. There are so many pretty and interesting products that seem to beckon and call us to try them and, once we do, we can see how well they suit our coloring, skin type and needs before purchasing the full size. For any beauty lovers, it’s like being in a playground. But there can dangers lurking around…
Testers are used every day by tens, if not thousands of people. Some of these people can have dirty hands, or health problems such as pink eye and contaminate the testers with bacteria, mould and fungi. It is true that most products contain preservatives but these are tested to be safe when used by one person, not loads of them everyday! The more people use testers, the more bacteria they have to fight, the weaker preservatives become and, after a while, they stop working.
So, what shall we do? Should we not use testers at all? Such a drastic measure isn’t really necessary. Here’s what you can do to play with testers safely:
Mascara and liquid eyeliners
Mascaras and liquid eyeliners have the most risk of contamination and should NEVER be tested directly on the eyes/lashes. Not even if the counter has disposable wands. Why? Because you just can’t be certain that all the people that tried the tester before you didn’t double-dip. If you wanna test a mascara, apply it on the hairs on your arm. Yes, I know, it is weird, isn’t it? But you’ll get an idea of how well a mascara adds length or volume without the risk of getting an eye infection.
Powder products (such as loose or pressed eyeshadows, blushes and powders) have, on the other hand, the least risk of contamination. That’s because bacteria need a moist environment to thrive and grow. However, that doesn’t mean that they are completely risk-free. It is always a good idea to wipe away the top layer of a powder product (just ask the SA or makeup artist at the counter if you can do this though) with a tissue before trying it on. Or just try it on your hand, which is always the safest option (especially with eyeshadows).
Lipsticks and cream products
Lipsticks are pretty easy to test. Most people just sweep it on their lips (never do this!) so the top of a lipstick is the area most likely to be contaminated. Instead, twist it up and pick up the product at the base to test it. Alternatively (and this is something you should do with all cream products) ask a SA or makeup artist if they have alcohol to sanitize the product before trying it on.
Foundations and concealers
Unlike other cosmetic products, concealer and foundation should be tried on the face (the latter near the jawline) to be sure you get a perfect match for your skintone. If the testers come in a tube, squeeze a bit of product on a tissue and then throw it away. Bacteria are usually found in the top layer of a product so once that is removed, you should be able to use the tester safely. If instead the tester comes in a cream or stick form, use the same tips I shared previously for lipsticks and cream products. And if you can, use a clean, disposable sponge instead than your fingers to apply the product on your face.
Pencils, brushes and organic products
Pencil eyeliners should never be tried on the eyes. Test them on the back of your hands instead. As for brushes, you can tell how soft or scratchy the bristles are just by touching them. But if you want to try and use them on your face, ask for an alcohol bottle and sanitize them. But always beware of organic or preservative-free products. These either contain no preservatives or natural preservatives which are weaker than parabens or formaldehyde-releasing preservatives that just don’t protect as well. If you really want to try these products do so on the back of your hand, never on your face, as the risk of bacteria contamination is high.
Do you play with testers at cosmetic counters? Do you follow these tips or have others you want to share?