Can you get herpes from tester lipsticks?

The said woman claims she contracted herpes from lipstick she tried at a Sephora located at the Hollywood and Highland location in Los Angeles.

Hands up if you’ve ever tried on a pretty shade of lipstick at a makeup store! What if we ask you, have you ever thought you could contract a viral infection just by trying on makeup? Well, it looks like the answer may be “yes.” A California-based woman claims that she got oral herpes from lipstick she reportedly tried on at a local Sephora counter. 

The woman who tried a “common use” lipstick at a Sephora located at Hollywood and Highland, LA, has now filed a lawsuit against the cosmetic conglomerate. 

Woman contracts oral herpes from lipstick 

In her lawsuit, the woman claims that she contracted the disease on October 2015. She also mentioned that she had never had it before her visit. 

The woman stated that the store “failed to clearly warn customers about the risk of getting oral herpes from trying on lipstick.” She also claimed that because of Sephora, she has an “incurable lifelong affliction.” This led her to sue them for causing her “emotional distress.”

Is it possible to get herpes from lipstick?

So can you really get herpes from trying on lipstick at a store? 

Experts suggest yes, a person can contract oral herpes from lipstick. But before you panic, this happens only in rare cases and in multiple uses.  

While speaking to Live Science, Dr Amesh Adalja, an infectious-disease specialist and a senior associate at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore, explained how it is possible. 

Adalja who is not involved in the case, stated one possibility. This is that that the said woman might already have had it. 

“I would suspect that many people who think they get herpes from certain things were already positive [for the virus], because it’s such a common and unavoidable infection,” Adalja clarified.

herpes from lipstick

“So one person uses it and puts it down and another person picks it up and uses it. Perhaps that’s a way of transmitting [infections].” | Image courtesy: Pixabay

Another expert, Dr Suman Radhaskrishna, chair of Infectious Disease Control at Dignity Health, LA, also spoke to KNBC and spoke about another possibility.

She shared that the lipstick may have passed on to her quickly after someone with the disease used it.

“It has to happen pretty much consecutively. So one person uses it and puts it down and another person picks it up and uses it. Perhaps that’s a way of transmitting,” she explained. 

Getting herpes from lipstick depends on the environment… 

Either way, the viability of the virus mostly depends on the environment and not the person. 

“The length of time the virus survived on the lipstick would depend on environmental conditions, such as humidity and moisture levels, but it could be there for a couple of hours,” Dr Adalja shared.

And although the World Health Organization says almost 67 percent people under the age of 50 suffer from oral herpes, Dr Adalja says one must not be too scared about it. 

He says that the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) that causes oral herpes (and cold sores) is “part of the human condition.” “[HSV-1] isn’t something people should be distressed about.” But one must still be careful as to how they test products that go directly onto the skin. 

3 ways to test lipsticks in stores without putting them on your lips

Since this lawsuit brings the issue of testers and hygiene back to the table, we thought we’d do the research for you and tell you how you can avoid using a trial lipstick. And, of course, how to still take home your favourite shade. 

1. Use your fingertip to test

The tip of your finger has the same undertone as your lips. Celebrity makeup artist Rae Morris recently shared the tip with Bazaar

“Test it on your fingertip, which has a blue-red undertone that’s closer to your lip. Do one swipe only and if you like the colour, buy it. If it’s not enough, you’re better off getting the next shade stronger and using less,” she says. 

2. Shop on weekdays 

Yes, you read that right. Chances of that trial lipstick getting soaked in somebody’s saliva is the highest over the weekend. So if you can, try to shop for lipsticks during the weekdays.   

Book an appointment with high-end stores beforehand so they keep separate cleaner samples for you. 

3. Don’t touch the pot

Avoid testing anything that comes in an open jar or pot. Most people have already dipped their fingers inside and you don’t want to put that product on you.

So stay away from eyeshadows, lipglosses, cheek tints and especially open jar lotions.

Always make sure you ask for a clean sample, If you cannot get one, use the menus and colour sheets as reference. 

 

Sources: Live Science, KNBC

ALSO READ: How to make lipstick from crayons

Republished with permission from: theAsianParent Singapore