Contracting the herpes virus from sampling lipstick at a cosmetics store, as one woman has filed a lawsuit alleging happened to her, is "absolutely possible," according to a dermatologist who spoke to "Today" national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen.
"You can catch the herpes simplex virus from an inanimate object such as lipstick," Dr. Whitney Bowe said.
The Rossen Reports team went undercover at three popular stores, collecting samples of makeup testers with sterile swabs, then sending them to a certified microbiology lab for testing. At all of the stores, some samples came back with harmful bacteria, including E. coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae, two types of bacteria normally found in the intestinal tract that are expelled with feces.
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"You could literally be applying and smearing someone else's fecal matter directly onto your lips," Bowe said.
Sephora told NBC News "the health and safety of our clients is our foremost priority" and their "testers are regularly sanitized, replaced and replenished.” They also said they follow "best practices in our stores" and "offer many other ways for clients to test products.” 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....”