The way I makeup: Volume 5

Michelle Castano



Makeup counters:

A cautionary tale.

With the exception of drugstore makeup, most makeup retailers including Sephora, Ulta, and even the Glossier Pop-up store in Wynwood provide testers for its shoppers.

Although shade matching one’s foundation shade or even finding the perfect hue of lipstick might be alluring upon testing, the buyer should PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

Mascara applicators, lipgloss tubes, and eye-catching eyeshadow palettes are hosts to a breeding ground of germs and harmful bacteria.

According to cosmetic chemist Ginger King, the most commonly seen bacteria on makeup products  is e. coli from people who do not wash their hands after using the bathroom. How do you know for sure that the person testing out a pigmented lip stain has a wart or fungus on their lip and is contaminating the makeup sample? And as much as I love a good deluxe sample as much as the next person, I will steer clear of such “freebies”.

While stores do have disposable applicators for makeup testing, do you know how many people a day are testing out beauty products? A ton. And how do you know if such patrons are “clean”? Well you don’t.

If you absolutely feel the need to test out a beauty product, NEVER apply it on your face, much less near your eyes. The “safest” area for testing out products would be your hands. Yes girl, you can see how glittery that Too Faced eye shadow is.. just keep it far away from your face.

After testing such product, followup with a makeup wipe or better yet, alcohol swab (if you have sensitive skin, avoid the alcohol tip) or hand sanitizer.

Like many of you have thought, “oh this isn’t going to happen to me,” it can absolutely happen to you, and it certainly happened to me.

Let’s backtrack to a warm summer night in the Wynwood Arts District. I got word that the “Insta-famous” online retailer, Glossier was hosting a Pop-Up store for a limited time in the Miami neighborhood. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on their famous Cloud Paint cream blushes, smell their musk scented perfumes and learn a bit more of their story as a company.

With such excitement and “oohing and aaahing” [hello onomatopoeia] at the aesthetics of the decor and physicality of “sold-out” online products, I completely forgot about the germs found within makeup testers.

And as a self proclaimed germaphobe, I disregarded my rule of thumb. I tested Glossier’s Lidstar “glistening eye glow” pigment.

In retrospect, I probably dabbed the tester straight onto my eyelid.

Fast track to 2 a.m.. and a rabid eye burning sensation presumably caused by the makeup tester immediately disturbed my slumber.

As a Web M.D. user who tends to look up all symptoms, I instantly thought I had a parasite in my eye. It felt as though a needle was protruding into my right eye. I rushed to the Cleveland Clinic emergency room and explained my sensations. After extensive eye exams, Dr. Linh determined that I had suffered a corneal abrasion in addition to conjunctivitis (pink eye).

I steered clear of mascara, eyeliner and eyeshadow for a month and inserted prescribed anti-fungal eyedrops and eye cream onto my corneas. I dislike going to the optometrist more so than going to the dentist and eyedrops are a complete nightmare.

So next time you find yourself at a makeup counter and browse the tester section, ask yourself, “is the juice worth the squeeze”? It 10,000 percent to the tenth power isn’t.

Photo: Makeup customer swatching lipstick shades onto hand. Photo courtesy of

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