Store Testers: The Nasty Reality

I feel like everyone already knows that testers are gross... But every time I go into a store somewhere, I see people applying them directly onto themself and I’m shocked every time. I‘m not sure if they have no regard for their health or if they just don’t know that they’re gross? So, I kinda figured I’d write this for everyone and anyone who do not know.

Store testers are nasty. The end. Just kidding... But they really are nasty. I’ve worked in beauty retail stores for the past 4.5 years and have been obviously a consumer for way longer. But working in stores you know more than an average customer would know because you’re constantly surrounded by everything. I don’t want to say “secrets” because it’s not at all a secret, but it’s just usually not something people would know unless you or someone you know work at a beauty store.

So, let’s start off with the fact that majority of testers have been out for awhile, sometime way too long... if it’s unpopular, it doesn’t get used much, therefore, it doesn’t get changed. Replacement testers are usually only made when a product runs out or dries out because in a store with over 1000 products, you can’t keep track of what day each one was opened. It’s literally impossible because sometimes testers are stolen or sometimes multiple testers are made, which makes it hard to know what one was opened when. Obviously if somebody smells a tester and it smells nasty or they look at it and it has clearly gone bad, they’ll open a new one.

The next thing we will talk about is the fact that testers are dropped on the floor... A lot. And obviously you can spray alcohol on it to disinfect it as much as possible, but realistically, you don’t want to put a tester, such as a lipstick, directly on your lips. I have seen customers drop it on the floor, it rolls underneath the display, they grab it and it’s covered in dust and dirt and they WIPED IT OFF AND APPLIED IT. I honestly was flabbergasted. But that brings me to the next thing, customers put product directly on, with the applicator. Liquid lipsticks, mascaras, eyeliners (felt tips), concealers, etc... Once an applicator has touched someone face and goes directly back into the container, the container has became contaminated. It should be thrown out. A rule for MUAs who freelance is that they NEVER double dip or use the applicator directly on the client.

And BACTERIA... Did you know that a study was done a certain beauty store where they tested a bunch of testers and found FECAL matter in the testers?? Which doesn’t surprise me because people use the bathroom and don’t wash their hands alllllllllll the time. That doesn’t mean its staff, I’m sure staff are smart and know not to do that and I’d like to think customers are smart enough to have clean hands before touching products... But, just because you do wash your hands, it doesn’t mean they’re clean. For an example, most of these beauty stores are inside of a mall, you touch the handrail on the escalator or stairs, but what you don’t know is someone touched that who didn’t wash their hands... Well, now you’re touching an eyeshadow palette and you put that bacteria all over it. But remember, not only are people not washing their hands... They’re also dropping product directly on the floor and putting it back like it didn’t happen. Another story: I was working once and I saw someone drop a mascara wand, she saw it was dirty and didn’t use it... Instead, she put it back into the container and back onto the shelf and walked away. It was a popular mascara and before I could even get over there to get a new one out, the product was in someone eleses hands. All I did was quickly snatch it out and explained what happened and then gave a brand new one to the client. But just remember, we can’t be everywhere at all times and see everything happening, which means that, that exact scenario is likely happening many of times, with all types of products that you’re about to put in contact with your skin. STOP.

So with all that being said, I wonder why people go into stores and get makeovers or facials done? They can’t possible know about testers because if they did, they would never allow someone to give them a facial with products that can easily have somebody dip their fingers into. Of course they have applicators so you DON’T put your hands in it, or don’t need to use the applicator directly on your skin... But it still happens and there’s not a lot people can do if they don‘t see it with their own eyes.

I have always told people “buy the product, literally try it out in store, if you don’t like it, return it”. I know it’s super wasteful and everyone is very “environmentally conscious“ right now... But, you also need to put your own health first. Swatch it on your hand, don’t swatch it on your lips. Feel the texture of that moisturizer, but don’t directly apply it to your face. Unfortunately, the only way to make sure you are staying hygienic would be to buy the product and return it if you don’t like it. And how do we reduce waste from returns? Do research. Learn about formulas. Find what you’re allergic to. View swatches online. See photos of people your complexion wearing the product. Use the “beauty apps” that allow you to try a product on, online. There are so many things you can do to make sure you aren‘t creating more waste... the problem is, people have to actually care as much as they say they do.

I’ll end this post off with this, which is directed to anyone who would like to claim “we were sanitary & kept up with our expired products. Please do not generalize”, if someone is able to steal a product and get away with it (always happens and usually goes unnoticed until inventory), they are able to dip their hands in a product without anyone noticing. Yes, its very possible for ONE counter to be hygienic, unfortunately, the actual percent of that being true is minute. Meaning, very small, and likely untrue still.


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