In case you’re wondering if this is even possible, according to a microbiologist, I can tell you that it most certainly is. And it’s not just herpes that can lurk in makeup.
But let’s look at herpes first.
This very common virus is mainly spread by skin-to-skin contact, kissing and sex, but it can also be transmitted in droplets of spit left by an infected person on towels, cups, cutlery and, yes, lipstick.
It doesn’t always show up on the skin as a blister immediately after it has infected a person, instead it can stay hidden and appear after a few months.
Because of this, it’s impossible to say with certainty if the American woman caught herpes from this particular store tester, or elsewhere.
Herpes causes blisters on the lips and around the mouth that can last up to ten days. Lipsticks and makeup brushes that touch these parts of the face can then spread the infection to other people.
There is no cure for a herpes infection, although treatments are available that will reduce the length of infection.
Cosmetic products contain preservatives to help slow down the growth of microbes, but they can become contaminated if people use non-sterile applicators or fingers to apply products, or if the products are poorly handled and stored; for example, products stored in warm and humid or damp conditions such as the bathroom.
Makeup brushes also have the potential to act as suitable homes for bacteria to thrive. Often, beauty blenders and brushes are dampened to help the application of eyeshadows or foundation. But this environment has the potential to promote rapid bacterial growth.
Mascara wands and eyeliners not only beautify the eyes, but can cause irritation and conjunctivitis, caused by both bacteria and viruses, including herpes simplex.
If all of these horror stories tell us one thing, it’s stay away from sharing makeup products, both among your friends and especially in cosmetic stores. You just don’t know what infections other people could be carrying on their skin.