News Room

CTFA Statement on Cosmetic Counter Safety

November 1, 2006

Contact:  Lisa Powers, CTFA (202) 331-1770

Safety is a top priority of the cosmetic and personal care products industry.  Key to this safety commitment is meticulous attention to hygiene and safety practices at cosmetic counters in retail outlets across the country. 

Cosmetic companies staff department store counters with professionals who are trained and experienced in demonstrating products that meet the industry’s strict hygiene safety standards.  Employees are required to wipe the surface of any powder or lipstick before presenting it to a consumer for application. Every effort is made to prevent consumers from finger-dipping or directly applying lipstick.  Companies do not permit mascara testing directly from the applicator to the eye.  Disposable applicators such as cotton balls and cotton applicators are made available to protect against unsanitary sampling procedures.  Companies are dedicated to ensuring that every tested product is frequently cleaned and sanitized.

The U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strongly discourages the practice of cosmetic sharing.    Specifically, FDA urges the following safety tips when using cosmetics:

  • If any eye cosmetic causes irritation, stop using it immediately.  If irritation persists, see a doctor. 
  • Avoid using eye cosmetics if you have an eye infection or the skin around the eye is inflamed. Wait until the area is healed. Discard any eye cosmetics you were using when you got the infection. 
  • Be aware that there are bacteria on your hands that, if placed in the eye, could cause infections. Wash your hands before applying eye cosmetics.
  • Make sure that any instrument you place in the eye area is clean.
  • Don't share your cosmetics. Another person's bacteria may be hazardous to you.
  • Don't allow cosmetics to become covered with dust or contaminated with dirt or soil. Keep containers clean.
  • Don't use old containers of eye cosmetics. Discard mascara three months after purchase.
  • Discard dried-up mascara. Don't add saliva or water to moisten it. The bacteria from your mouth may grow in the mascara and cause infection. Adding water may introduce bacteria and will dilute the preservative that is intended to protect against microbial growth.
  • Don't store cosmetics at temperatures above 85 degrees F. Cosmetics held for long periods in hot cars, for example, are more susceptible to deterioration of preservatives.
  • When applying or removing eye cosmetics, be careful not to scratch the eyeball or other sensitive area. Never apply or remove eye cosmetics in a moving vehicle.
  • Don't use any cosmetics near your eyes unless they are intended specifically for that use. For instance, don't use a lip liner as an eye liner. You may be exposing your eyes to contamination from your mouth, or to color additives that are not approved for use in the area of the eye.
  • Avoid color additives that are not approved for use in the area of the eye, such as "permanent" eyelash tints and kohl. Be especially careful to keep kohl away from children, since reports have linked it to lead poisoning.

Consumers should keep these FDA safety tips in mind when shopping for and sampling cosmetics in stores and should insist on using disposable applicators when testing their cosmetics before purchase.  These practices will help ensure safe sampling of products at cosmetic counters.