Woman Claims Tester at Sephora Gave Her Oral Herpes: Tips for Safely Applying Cosmetics

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TMZ is reporting that a woman is suing Sephora after she claims she contracted the oral herpes virus from a lipstick tester at a Los Angeles store in 2015. The woman is suing the chain for emotional damages and claims that other beauty companies have ways to avoid the sharing of viruses like herpes.

Sephora responded to American Spa's request for comment, writing in an email " While it is our policy not to comment on litigation, the health and safety of our clients is our foremost priority. We take product hygiene very seriously and we are dedicated to following best practices in our stores." 

We spoke to board-certified cosmetic and medical dermatologist Margarita Lolis, M.D. and Norman Rowe M.D., owner of Rowe Plastic Surgery (NYC) and Tight Medical Spa (Water Mill, NY) about ways to keep clients safe when applying cosmetics. Here are her tips for both shopping for cosmetics and how to provide a clean experience for clients. 


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When it comes to shopping for cosmetics, Lolis suggests not actually applying them to the lips. "Ideally in the case of lipsticks, you really want to try the cosmetic on your hand. People prefer actually trying lipsticks on their lips, so they can actually tell if they like the color but there's a risk with that," she says. "A good solution would be to bring your own lip brush and wipe down the lipstick and swipe color from the side as opposed to the top"

Rowe says communicable diseases can be transmitted through contaminated makeup and suggests that both makeup counters and spas supply Q-tips for client use, and spas and counters should clean the makeup dispenser between users. He says that by cleaning the dispenser in view of the next user will make the client feel comfortable.  

Lolis suggests that spas follow the International Spa Association (ISPA) guidelines, which say the following: "Products, equipment and instruments used in spa services and treatments are cleaned, disinfected, stored and used in compliance with the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines. Staff is trained on how to handle products and provide first aid if needed." Lolis also suggests that surfaces are wiped down and instruments sterilized. 

"Keeping products closed when not used is a good idea," says Lolis. "Testers are a breeding ground for bacteria so again, a formula of wipe-test-wipe again must be encouraged. When working with a makeup artist be sure to bring your own brushes or make certain the makeup artists sterilized brushes and cleaned them thoroughly."

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