A California woman has filed a lawsuit against Sephora after claiming that she contracted herpes from a sample tube of lipstick at the store in October of 2015. According to TMZ, the unnamed woman is looking for compensation for the emotional distress caused by her "incurable lifelong affliction." She also says that she has had exhibited no signs of the disease prior to her visit to the store.
"While it is our policy to not comment on Litigation, the health and safety of our clients is our foremost priority," Sephora responded in a statement. "We take product hygiene very seriously and we are dedicated to following best practices in our stores."
Cosmopolitan reached out to Dr. Rachel Nazarian of Schweiger Dermatology Group for more information on the matter: "It is possible to contract the herpes virus from sharing make up and other skin care products," said Nazarian. "When considering a place like Sephora with thousands of customers using and sharing products, all it takes is one infected person with one cold sore to transmit the virus to somebody else."
"Chapped lips or breakage in skin make you more susceptible to infection with this virus," Nazarian added. "Many of the makeup stores take precautions like wiping down products with alcohol or disinfectants to kill viruses between usage person to person. Unfortunately, it is not something that is 100 percent always done, and many times used products are sampled without proper cleaning."
Cosmo also recommended removing the top of "common use" lipsticks before sampling, or using alcohol wipes and Q-tips to sanitize the product before testing it.
That being said, more than 50 percent of the population in the United States are believed to have oral herpes, with many contracting the condition in childhood, according to the American Sexual Health Association. Johns Hopkins Medicine adds that 90 percent of adults have been exposed to the virus by age 50. That means if you're smooching anyone, you're pretty likely to get the disease yourself—and that the hysteria surrounding herpes is largely the result of unnecessary stigma.