Taking the 'ewwwww' out of beauty
Dirty business, beauty-shopping. No, really, it is.
There you are, skipping through the beauty halls, chipper at the prospect of trying out some new lipsticks, or a fresh foundation - and lying in wait are all manner of bacterial horrors.
We are founder members of The Safe Beauty Association, but even we were pretty blown away by some recent stats about make-up testers. A two-year study by Dr. Elizabeth Brooks, a biological sciences professor at Jefferson Medical College in the USA, found staph aureus, strep and E-coli on make-up testers in stores. And as she puts it, 'Wherever you see E-coli, you should just think: "E-coli means faeces. That means someone went to the bathroom, didn't wash their hands and then stuck their fingers in that moisturiser."'
Not surprisingly, grubby testers (and we're talking invisible-to-the-naked-eye grubby here) offer the potential for infection - everything from conjunctivitis to styes, impetigo to ringworm and even herpes simplex. And of course at this time of year, there's the potential for colds, flu (and that beastly norovirus which has cut a tsunami-like swathe through this country) to be transmitted, too.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the risks are worse at weekends: Saturday testers scored higher on the bacteria-o-meter than weekdays, and Sundays...? Worst of all. Foundations and brushes, it transpires, are worst affected. (In truth, most make-up sales consultants we've observed are pretty diligent about cleaning up lipsticks, perhaps because the risks are more obvious.) But in high street chains, of course, where there aren't sales consultants hovering, days may go by before the testers are cleaned up. (Dare we say: on inspection, it sometimes looks like weeks...?)
We have a few suggestions for 'safer' make-up and skincare shopping.
• First, do yourself (and everyone else) a favour and wash your hands really, really thoroughly before testing anything.
• If you don't have ready access to soap and water, then carry anti-bacterial gel in your handbag.
• When using the disposable tools provided by make-up brands at counter, never 'double dip' mascara brushes or any other makeup cosmetic applicator or tool. Double dipping defeats the purpose of using a single use, disposable applicator or brush and it is a term that all professional makeup artists and beauty professionals should be aware of. (Double dipping means reloading the same mascara wand with mascara by dipping it into the tube a second time.)
• Check out The Pro Hygiene Collection, which features as our Fab Find of the Week - see it here - and invest in some or all of the range, which claims to banish 99.99% of beauty bugs from brushes and testers. It's easy-to-use, if a little bulky to carry round every day - so rather than drift in and out of beauty halls dipping, dabbing and potentially exposing yourself to infection, why not make dedicated beauty 'pilgrimages', and pack this in your bag...?
• If you're ever having your make-up done professionally for an event, take along products from the range and be (pleasantly) assertive about the make-up artist using them.
Take it from us: this is very definitely better-safe-than-sorry territory.