How To Test Cosmetics Safely At The Makeup Counter

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

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?

Source: abbeyrosete
Like this post? Tell your friends!
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook


    • Joy Chuah says

      I agree. The horror of it. I once saw a girl testing a lipstick by swiping it DIRECTLY on her lips. Brrrr…..I was so put off. This is indeed a very informative and educational article.

      • beautifulwithbrains says

        Joy Chuah, thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed my article. And that would put me off too. People should be more careful with what they put on their skin. After all, who knows how many people have tested the same lipstick that way before? Eww.

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Paris, thank you. That always shocks me too. How can someone put on their eyes and lips something that’s been used by so many people? It can be really dangerous. Testing everything on the back of your hand is safer.

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Denise, you’re welcome. I always test everyone on the back of my hand bar foundations but even then I make sure the tester is safe before using it. But applying lipstick straight from the tube is just dangerous and always shocking to see.

  1. elly says

    I always have in my bag a small lip brush to test lipstick. I simply take the product from the base with the brush and try it on. It’s safe and simple :)

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Trisha, I know, right? Some testers are in such bad condition that I can’t believe how people can touch them, let alone use them on their eyes and lips. Eww. If a tester is really gross, I’d rather just walk away and not try it.

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      La Bisbetica, those are my thoughts exactly. You don’t know how many people have played with the tester before you and some are so gross I don’t see how anyone could use. Testing on the back of your hand and wiping everything off afterwards is the safest way to try testers.

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Makeup Morsels, I’m always horrified when I see people testing mascara like that. It is so risky! I just hope they won’t get an infection or anything. But it’s always best not to risk it and try everything on your hand/arm.

  2. says

    I usually just test makeup at Sephora, and I only test it on the back of my hand. Then I wipe it off after a few minutes – luckily Sephora has lots of makeup remover all over the store to use. I remember I used to test Mac lipstick at the counter – they would wipe it off with alcohol for me, but now it seems kind of gross. Since Sephora and drugstores let you return makeup, I just return stuff that ends up not working out.
    Jeni´s last blog post ..BurnOut Sunscreen – 18 Zinc Oxide!My Profile

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Jeni, that’s the safest way to try cosmetics and it’s good to know Sephora has makeup removers easily available. It’s not always the case here which is a shame. If they sanitized it with alcohol it should be fine but you can always try it on the back of your hand. Better safe than sorry after all. And it’s so great that you can return cosmetics in the USA. You can’t do that here so you need to be careful with what you buy.

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Stavroula, that’s awful! Some stores don’t really take care of their testers and don’t sanitize which is a shame cos it puts a lot of people off trying them.

  3. says

    I used to use the lipstick straight of the stick aswell (eeeewwww gross) i don’t know what i was thinking (obviously not much) but now i only try concealer on my jawline and then remove it afterwards the same with powder.Thanks for the article :)

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Skye, I think most of us have done that back when we first started getting into makeup and didn’t know any better. Looking back, it’s really gross. Thank goodness we know better now. :)

  4. ogo says

    Lool.. Just getting into makeup and used the lipstick directly on my lips. Don’t know what I was thinking got pretty embarrassed at the store today. But I know better now. Thanks for the article

    • Gio says

      Ogo, don’t feel embarassed, that’s something we all did when we first got into makeup and didn’t know any better. Glad you enjoyed the article.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge