Charlotte-Area Makeup Testers Contain MRSA, E. Coli, Herpes And More


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Try before you buy is a nice concept for cars, clothes and electronics, but what about makeup?

“I find it quite unhygienic and frankly speaking, a little disgusting," said Dr. Arash Poursina, an infectious disease specialist with Piedmont Medical Center.

He says makeup is one thing you shouldn’t sample.

“You go to a department store, if they have put a toothbrush over there for everybody to try and see how good that toothbrush is, you would not if 50 other people have brushed their teeth with that toothbrush," Dr. Poursina said. "Why would you pick up a lipstick and use it? It’s the same thing."

The NBC Charlotte Defenders team went to different cosmetic stores across the Charlotte area and took samples from 10 different makeup testers. From lipstick to mascara, eyeshadow to blush.

They were swabbed into Petri dishes of agar, a substance that will show us any organisms that were lurking on the samples. Five days later, the Defenders took the results to Dr. Poursina.

And some of the results were stomach-turning. 

“Some of these are molds," Dr. Poursina said, looking over the samples. "You have even G.I. organisms like E. coli for example. What I’m really worried about some of these samples actually look like staph and MRSA infections.”

Staph or MRSA can even be deadly if it gets into your blood stream. Dr. Poursina also says he saw what could be herpes.

“Even sexually transmitted diseases can be transmitted by sharing make up,” he said.

The worst culprits from our samples? The eye shadows and lipsticks. Big cosmetics stores like Sephora and Ulta say they have strict policies about changing out samples frequently to keep them fresh.

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