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Beauty News: Makeup Samples Filled with Bacteria, Mold, and Fecal Matter

June 21, 2012

You might want to rethink that free makeover at the makeup counter.

Good Morning America went undercover to test the makeup samples at 10 big beauty stores and found that one out of every five samples had mold, yeast, and -- prepare yourself for this one -- even fecal matter.

Excuse me while I lose my lunch.

Related: 13 Gross Ingredients Hidden in Your Beauty Products

The Microbiology lab at New York University Langone Medical Centre says the eyeshadows, lipsticks, and foundations you've been testing before buying are not only caked with poop, but they're also smeared with strains of bacteria that can make you sick.

Probably not too surprising considering that beauty counters, on average, replace their makeup samples once a year.

Related: 12 Things Your Nail Salon Doesn't Want You to Know

The biggest germ dispensers are makeup brushes, foundations, and eye makeup. If you're hell-bent on testing makeup before you buy, always use a disposable applicator and test the color on the back of your hand or your neck -- not your face or (gasp!) your lips.

And if you're thinking you're immune because you only shop for makeup in the fancy department stores, check this out: GMA found no germ disparity between the high-end department store samples and the ones at the drugstore. It seems bacteria is indifferent to class.

Thoroughly grossed out, we decided to do some beauty sleuthing and found 6 more dirty secrets at the makeup counter:


Do you feel special when a salesperson says you are pretty or goes on about how great your skin is? Well, for the most part, they are complimenting everyone. "Usually if I compliment them, they open up about what they are looking for," says one former makeup artist. She says she found that women were "shy and self-conscious" and that with a little "boost" from her, they were more likely to talk to her about their skin or makeup concerns and buy products.


"Cosmetic training in a department store or beauty supply focuses mostly on sales and not about product knowledge, which is unfortunate," says one former counter makeup artist. "We do learn mediocre product information, but that doesn't come until several months after working there, so we spend the first couple months making stuff up or sharing our limited experience," she says. "I would generalize that most beauty advisors know a little more than what the average woman does about beauty," and the ones that make "good money" off commissions are "sales people, not beauty experts," she concludes.

Related: 10 Fast Food Options That Are Good for Your Skin


Walking through a department store you'll realize that sometimes the salespeople look more like doctors than makeup artists. This is a planned scheme to convince you they are "experts," says a former counter worker. "The lab coats and charts are a marketing tool. They give the illusion [that the] sales force are estheticians, research scientists and keep their area clean," she says. "If we were [experts], we would not be working at the counter. Experts on beauty are actually providing services in salons and developing new skin care technology in a lab," she jokes.


One of the biggest selling points of visiting the makeup counter is the "free makeover," but what salespeople don't tell you upfront is that the makeover isn't really free. Makeup artists at counters work on commission. So although you're not obligated to buy anything, it is expected. "Technically it's free, but we invest our time hoping you will become our next big customer. It's like tipping -- if you don't tip your waiter, no one is going to come after you yelling and waving their fist, but you would leave feeling guilty. It's just not courteous to get a free makeover when you have no intention of buying," says a former counter makeup artist.

Related: 8 Bad Skin Habits That'll Shock You


There are certain things brands won't want to tell you about the product if you don't know to ask about it, says one beauty counter veteran. If an ingredient in a product you are interested in "has scared the public," like for example the media scare over parabens, the salesperson won't mention the present ingredient when selling it to you, she warns.


Think once you leave the department store you are forgotten about? Think again. "If we get a particularly weird customer we may laugh about it for weeks," says one former makeup artist. "I used to have my family in stitches at dinner telling them the customer stories of the day. There are weird people out there!" she says and that was the "only fun we [could] have sometimes."

More from TotalBeauty.com:
The Weirdest Beauty Tips You've Heard
6 Yoga Moves That'll Make You Look Younger
10 New Weight Loss Diet Myths and Facts

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