Q: When I clean off a tester lipstick using the alcohol and swabs provided at the makeup counter, am I really killing all of the germs?
Video: How to apply red lipstick.
Sorry, but no. Alcohol kills some germs (the common cold virus, for example) but not all. Two that can survive: the viruses that cause gastroenteritis (aka stomach "flu") and cold sores. But swabbing is still worthwhile, says Philip Tierno, Ph.D., director of clinical microbiology and immunology at the New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City. Apply the alcohol for 15 to 30 seconds-enough time for it to penetrate the germ's cell wall. Then wipe away the top layer of the lipstick, thus physically removing microbes that might survive the alcohol bath. It's very unlikely that an infecting dose-the number of organisms that must be present to make you sick-will remain, Tierno says. Still a little skeeved out? At MaryKay.com, you can upload your picture and "try on" as many lipstick shades as you'd like, germ-free.
Related: Easy makeup tweaks for gorgeous eyes!
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