In the beauty world it’s a well known fact that sharing some products is an absolute no-go. Take mascara for instance, it’s been drilled into us since we were makeup newbies that you need to keep your little black tube of eye lengthening goodness to yourself, no exceptions.
What is lesser known however is the plethora of other beauty products that you should keep to yourself to minimise the chance of bacteria and other nasties spreading. Recently, Elle spoke to cosmetic dermatologist, Dendy Engelman for a rundown of those products as well as revealing four beauty buys that are safe to share.
6 products you should never share
#1 / Products that come in a jar
If the product’s packaging requires you to dip your fingers into it (think jars of cleanser, day cream, eye cream, foundation, lip balm etc.) you should keep it to yourself, as well as make sure your hands are always clean before you dip them in. Engelman says “you don’t want to create a petri dish out of the cream you’re going to be applying to your face.” This is especially the case with skin care products as your skin absorbs 60 per cent of whatever is applied to it.
#2 / Pressed Foundation
Whilst dry powder formulations don’t capture as much bacteria the way wet ones do, there is still a significant risk of transferring bacteria from one person to another if that product is shared.
#3 / Lipstick or balm
Engelman says lipsticks and lip balms shouldn’t be shared as “a large percentage of people carry HSV-1, (herpes simplex virus) but just because it’s in your system doesn’t mean you ever show signs of it externally.” She continues to say “this is referred to as asymptomatic shedding, where you have the virus but you don’t show any symptoms.”
Engelman says that this lack of symptoms is the reason why it’s so important to use your own lip products “because if you pass your favourite lipsticks around from girl to girl and you or your friend has the virus, you could be transferring bacteria or HSV-1 and never know it.”
#4 / Cream eyeshadows
Due to a cream eyeshadows’ tacky formula, the likelihood of them trapping bacteria is very high. This is even more likely since cream shadows are often applied with fingers, which harbour their own bacteria as well.
#5 / Makeup brushes
This one might be a no brainer but the reasons why you should keep your brushes to yourself are pretty important. Acne production can be exacerbated by using someone else’s brushes due to the cross-contamination of bacteria that occurs. Engelman says that if you’re going to share makeup brushes make sure they’ve either been sprayed with alcohol to kill the bacteria or alternatively shampooed before use.
#6 / Facial cleansing brush
Before you think about sharing your cleansing brush or using another person’s, consider all the dirt, oil, dead skin cells and bacteria you clean off your face each morning and night with the device. If you live with someone and they’re stealing your brush, you should invest in several brush heads so you can each have your own.
4 products that are safe to share
4 products that are safe to share
#1 / Anything in a pump
No matter what beauty category it falls under (fragrance, haircare, foundation, moisturiser etc.) if it comes in pump packaging it’s fine to share, as the risk of contamination is low because you only come into contact with the product once it’s left the bottle.
#2 / Loose powder
As previously mentioned, powders limit the ability for bacteria to flourish in comparison to moist products such as mascaras and creams. Consequently, if you dip your (clean) brush into loose powder once, there’s a smaller risk of spreading bacteria.
#3 / Lip and eye pencils
This one surprised us, as we would have though sharing any eye products was a no-go. Turns out that any product that can be sharpened back to its brand new state is fine to share as bacteria is removed once it’s sharpened. Engelman says that it’s important to dip your eye or lip sharpener in alcohol once a week to keep it germ-free.
#4 / Eyelash curler
Since metal and stainless steel don’t trap bacteria for long, it’s ok to wipe your eyelash curlers down with an antibacterial wipe (preferred) or a tissue and share it with a friend.
Kate started working for BEAUTYcrew in early 2016, first as a contributor, and was then named Beauty Writer in 2017. She loves picking the brains of the industry's top experts to get to the bottom of beauty's toughest questions. Bronze eyeshadow palettes are her weakness and she's forever on the hunt for the perfect nude nail polish to suit her fair skin. Her words can also be found in Men's Health magazine, and she now works in PR.