Sampling Makeup and Safety Thereof in Places like Sephora

One of life's greatest pleasures in the trove of samples you can try on in Sephora. :) But I have wondered about safety re infection? Is the alcohol they provide really enough to disinfect a lipstick bullet? (There is no way to know if the isopropanol provided is in the 75-91% range, or if it's rubbing alcohol.)

Lip gloss tubes and mascaras seem particularly suspect, even though they provide applicators for both.

Thoughts? Better to buy the product and return if dissatisfied?


  • I don't really have an answer, but I personally go ahead and try on in places like that.  They do have a liberal return policy, though, so if you are uncomfortable, purchasing and returning could be a way to go.
  • I've never seen any data on the transmission of infectious bacteria through Sephora sampling so I really can't say. My guess is that if it was a significant problem we'd have heard about it by now but I really don't know. 
  • I will say that I've seen the staff be pretty careful in Sephora, but I suppose you never know when some customer will decide to use the tube that came with the mascara sample.
  • I would think things like lipsticks and eyeliners where you have to touch the product inside would be a bigger risk than things like liquid foundations or lotions where you're squeezing it out of a tube. For that kind of product, I usually swatch it on my (clean) forearm or hand instead of my face. I never put testers on my face since I don't really know where it has been. Another good way to test products might be to have one of the store makeup artists do your makeup, since they use different stuff that hasn't been out in the aisles and always use single-use, disposable applicators. Some stores have individually packaged samples too, so you could always try asking for one of those if you aren't comfortable using the tester.

    I'd love to see someone go through a few stores and test their testers for bacteria. It'd be fascinating.
  • I never thought much about it until I pulled the wand out of a gloss and it just struck me as used and worn. Then it struck me as gross. :)

    I like to test things and bring samples home before purchasing. I do appreciate Sephora's generous return policy, but I do hate using something once or twice, then returning. So much waste. I try to mitigate doing that as much as I can.

    You're right, Sonja, that would be fascinating to do some sample testing,
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