Woman sues Sephora, claims lipstick sample gave her herpes
This Woman Says A Lipstick Sample Gave Her Herpes
It can be hard to find a color that’s just right for you, and it’s expensive to keep buying shades that don’t work. That’s why it makes total sense that you’d want to try on a lipstick before you buy it. One California woman did just that—and claims she got herpes as a result.
The unnamed woman of a new lawsuit says she visited a Sephora in Hollywood in Oct. 2015, tried on one of their “common use” lipsticks, and ended up with herpes on her lip, TMZ reports. The woman says she never had herpes or cold sores before she visited the store, but was diagnosed by a doctor after her visit. She now claims in court documents that Sephora failed to clearly warn customers that they could be at risk of getting herpes or other diseases from trying on their samples. She’s suing the beauty company for emotional distress due to her "incurable lifelong affliction" she has as a result of trying on lipsticks.
To be fair, Sephora has stations around their stores that contain rubbing alcohol and cotton pads for cleaning products, and they encourage people to wipe off the lipsticks before trying them out. Still, it’s not required.
When asked to respond to the allegations, a Sephora representative said: "While it is our policy not to comment on litigation, the health and safety of our clients is our foremost priority. We take product hygiene very seriously and we are dedicated to following best practices in our stores."
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It’s definitely possible to get oral herpes this way, says Jennifer Wider, M.D. “It’s likely enough that it's not worth the risk,” she says. “While it's difficult to completely predict, herpes can be contracted from sharing lipstick, lip balm, eating utensils, cigarettes, e-cigarettes, toothbrushes, etc.”
The way you can get herpes from makeup counter lipstick is pretty simple. If you use a lipstick after someone who has the herpes simplex virus, the virus can be transferred to you, Wider says. That’s especially true if you have a break in your skin or chapped lips, she adds. Research has shown that the virus can live in a moist area (like a lipstick) for a day, so the virus could be hanging around makeup for a solid chunk of time before you’re exposed.
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As for the option to use rubbing alcohol to clean lipsticks first, that can help, but it’s not guaranteed to obliterate your risk, says Amesh A. Adalja, M.D., a board-certified infectious disease physician and affiliated scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “It depends on how systematically that’s applied to the surface,” he says. “It would be effective in most cases, but not necessarily 100 percent.”
Ultimately, if you’re concerned about contracting an infection, including herpes, it’s really best to take a pass at trying on lipsticks and lip products that other people have used, Adalja says. “You’re taking a risk any time you’re using something that someone else has essentially put in their mouth,” he says.
Video: Woman Sues Sephora, Claims Lipstick Sample Gave Her Herpes
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