Today Show

Popular Cosmetic Stores are Putting You in Danger

In November 2017, the Today’s show’s Jeff Rosen went undercover to collect “tester” samples from popular cosmetic retailers. What they found was shocking.

Prompted by the then-recent news of a woman contracting herpes from a tester at Sephora, Jeff Rosen for the Today Show went undercover at Sephora, Ulta, and Macy’s.

After testing the samples at a lab, they found that 4 out of 8 samples at Sephora contained harmful bacteria such as E. coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae. These harmful bacteria are found in human digestive tracks and come out with feces. Essentially, when using these specific testers, consumers are wiping someone else’s fecal matter on their skin. Two of the samples from Sephora came back positive for staph. Staph can cause very serious infections that may become life-threatening.

Jo GilFor instance, in another article, Sanitation Conversation covered Jo Gilchrist. In 2015, Gilchrist, a mother of a (then) 2-year-old boy, contracted MRSA, which is a drug-resistant strand of staph. Doctors said she may never walk again. She developed MRSA by using a friend’s makeup brush. Some may find this to be a common practice, but stories like this will make you think twice about sharing your makeup with your friends.

At Ulta, one sample was positive for E.coli and another was positive for Klebsiella and Staph. At Macy’s, one sample was positive for E.coli and another was also positive for Klebsiella and Staph.

While Macy’s declined to comment when Rosen reached out, Sephora and Ulta provided very similar responses.

Here is what Sephora had to say:

Sephora“The health and safety of our clients is our foremost priority and our testers are regularly sanitized, replace, and replenished.”

They also said that they follow best practices in their stores” and “offer many other ways for clients to test products.


In a similar statement, Ulta said:

“The health and safety of our guests is a top priority. We encourage and support sanitary trial by offering items like cleansers and disposable makeup applicators.”


Dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe said, “If you’re itching to try, then at least use the makeup on the top of your hand as opposed to using it close to your eyes or lips, because those areas are much more vulnerable to infection.”

A few great tips:

  • If you really want to try a product on your face, buy a new, boxed product! Most cosmetic stores have a great return policy. Be sure to check the return policy first.
  • Most stores will open an unused product for you to test if you ask an associate.

Whether you’re trying on products in a cosmetic store or applying makeup on someone else, make sure you use disposable applicators. If at all possible, avoid using testers at all.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]