Photo has been used for illustrative purpose only. TNS
Saleha Irfan, Senior Sub-Editor/Reporter
From a very young age, we are all taught to share.
“Sharing is caring,” my parents would say when I refused to share my favourite toy with my sibling, or include her in my plans, or give her half of the last piece of cake. (Who likes to do that? I still don’t!)
But when it comes to sharing beauty products, whether it’s towels, toothbrushes (cringe!), or make-up, it is better to let go of this principle.
“Bacterial, fungal and viral infections can be transmitted via towels, razor blades and all sorts of beauty and household products, even among friends and loved ones,” says Dr Adil Sheraz, consultant dermatologist and British Skin Foundation spokesperson.
According to experts, here are a few beauty items you should reconsider sharing.
Truth time: I have been known, on occasion, to use my sister’s hairbrush, especially when I forget mine at home while visiting her. So how safe is it?
“You can almost think of your hairbrush as a toothbrush,” says Nathan Walker, Trevor Sorbie’s international technical director. “The skin cells of the scalp shed and flake, but also secretes a protective oil called sebum, so thinking of all of this I wouldn’t recommend sharing.”
Walker also warns that dandruff can be caused by a type of bacterial infection which could be transmitted through sharing brushes. He says there is also a high risk of passing on parasites like head lice.
“Also, if the person’s brush your borrowing has a sore or broken scalp, you can potentially transfer blood from person to person. These are all worst-case scenarios and basic hygiene such as washing regularly with hot water and mild detergent can keep your brushes clean.”
Curling tongs and straighteners
Growing up with a sister, we always shared curling irons and hair straighteners. So when I read that there is no bacteria transfer, I breathed a sigh of relief.
“Curling tongs and straighteners heat to over 100 degrees Celsius, so any bacteria would be killed,” says Walker. While these temperatures won’t kill head lice, the hair expert says that the survival of the louse off the scalp is limited “so risk is minimal.”
He adds: “The most important thing is to ensure that that the irons you’re sharing don’t have remnants of burnt hair products on the plates — the easiest way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to take a damp towel and secure it between the plates and draw the towel through the iron whilst hot (taking care not to burn yourself).”
If you absolutely need to share someone’s mascara, invest in a disposable want to avoid contamination.
“Eye infections are notoriously contagious,” warns Hannah Wilson, freelance make-up artist and owner of Reflect Cosmetics.
As for eyeliner, look for products that can be sharpened and do so between uses.
When it comes to liquid eyeliners, Amy Wright, a professional make-up artist, advises users apply the liquid to the back of a clean hand and use an eyeliner brush to apply from hand to eye but to make sure not to share to liquid applicator itself.
Wright says that it is fine to share eyeshadows as long as you’re hygienic. “If using a brush, then make sure the handle is sterilised and use it to take a swatch of the cream onto the back of your clean hand before using the fibres of the brush to apply onto the eye,” she says.
“If you prefer to apply with a finger, use a cotton bud or spatula to apply onto the back of your hand first and then with a clean finger, apply from hand to eye.”
Dr Sheraz explains that propionibacterium acnes — the bacteria that plays a role in the development of spots — can come as a result of sharing brushes. “Avoid using someone else’s makeup brush and clean your own facial brushes once a week to prevent build-up of makeup which is a good medium for bacterial growth,” he notes.
To clean your brushes, Wright suggests applying an isopropyl alcohol solution onto a tissue and swirling the brush around multiple times in the liquid until it runs completely clear from product.
Borrowing a lip gloss or liner to freshen up your lipstick may seem innocent but it’s quite the contrary.
Dr Sheraz warns that by sharing lip products you can be at risk of spreading Herpes simplex virus (HSV-1), often referred to as cold sores, and even the common cold.
“It is thought that two-thirds of the world’s population carry the herpes (HSV-1) virus,” he says.
For lipstick, lip gloss or lip balm, the make-up expert suggests applying the product onto the back of a clean hand and using a fresh lip brush or a disposable applicator to apply onto the lips. “Never share used applicators or dip used applicators back into the lip product,” Wright adds.
Transferring bacteria from a pressed foundation is less but still very much possible. It mostly depends on the method of application as the sponge or brush being used to apply it may harbour bacteria.
“Always ensure your brush is clean for every single application,” says Wright. “If it’s a loose powder formula, I recommend decanting the powder into separate plastic containers for each user for ease.”
Skincare experts agree that you can share creams as long as they come in pump bottles as there is no direct contact with the skin until the product is out of it. However, the same cannot be said for creams that come in jars or pots as you can’t guarantee that your fingers or under your nails beds are clean from any bacteria. This is called cross-contamination
Meanwhile, Wright suggests using a sterile spatula each time you use a cream to avoid contamination and depositing it onto the back of the hand before applying to the face.
“It will also help ensure you don’t take more product than you actually need as well,” she says.
Visualise this: You are getting ready for an event and you realise that you have run out of hair product. You see a container, that doesn’t belong to you, lying on the shelf and proceed to scooping a dollop of hair wax out of it. Well, according to experts, that’s absolutely fine.
“Most hair products contain ingredients to keep bacteria to a minimum and preservatives to keep the product fresh,” says Walker.
The only condition? Make sure your hands are clean before reaching into the jar.
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