Navigating a massive beauty megastore like Sephora or Ulta can be quite the task in itself—aside from resisting the urge to grab literally every product off the shelves and shove them into your shopping basket, you also have to worry about whose pout was previously making contact with that perfect nude lipstick you're eager to swatch.
"You have to be really careful trying on makeup in a place where the public has access to it," makeup artist Elle Leary tells us. "You don't know how well, or if at all, it has been cleaned." To figure out how to shop a beauty megastore in the most sanitary way possible, we asked Leary to provide her expert advice on testing out the products without transferring germs. For starters, if you're the type to swatch 50 shades of lipstick every time you head to your local Sephora, carry a mini bottle of rubbing alcohol with you, or commandeer one sitting in the store. "Spray it on the lipstick itself, and on a tissue, then gently wipe off the product," Leary advises. "Then, ask for a small plastic spatula to take off a little of the lipstick and apply it." It may seem extra, but when some shoppers opt to place the tube directly on their lips, this step is a must. For that reason, she recommends forgoing sampling gloss altogether. Or instead, swipe it on the back of your hand.
Provided that the foundations, tinted moisturizers, or primers you have your eye on are in a tube, you should be fine squeezing out a small amount onto the back of your hand to sample the shade, but be wary of any products housed in jars. "You want to be careful with any product that people can stick their fingers in like open jars, or items that can be applied directly," she says. "You never know what kind of bacteria could be in them since so many people look at them every day!" Before trying any blushes or powder shadows, bring out your trusty mini-bottle of rubbing alcohol again. Leary recommends spraying a small amount directly on the color, then wiping the top with a tissue. As for eyeliners and lipliners, you should be okay swatching the products on your hand if they have been freshly-sharpened, but if not, find a sharpener and give the pencil a few twists to slough off the exposed layer.