Why you shouldn't share certain skincare products

I've always been conscious about sharing certain makeup and skincare products the I apply directly on my skin. So like my face cleansing brush, lipsticks, lip balms and so on. The reason is because I just rather will be safe than sorry and there are some viruses that can be passed on from body fluids or just skin contact. A few people i have come across that have cold sores, always said they got it from a friend who used her chapstick, or some similar story. about 50% - 80% of adults have cold sores, thats a high number. So since then I have just been super conscious of sharing mine. I really wanted to understand it, and see how contagious it is, or if it really is truly passed on that easily. So i did some research and stumbled across an article by Dr Bailey Skincare and thought it was really insightful and thought to share some key learnings and see if its a myth or Fact.

What exactly is herpes/cold sore? 

The herpes virus that causes cold sores is a germ you can potentially ‘catch’ when you share personal items such as makeup. Herpes infection is common. 50-80% of adults in the US are infected with the oral herpes virus. Whether they have an active cold sore or not, the virus resides in their facial tissues and can be shed and spread.

Can it easily spread? 

The herpes virus is most effectively spread from direct person to person contact with infected skin, such as by kissing. Saliva or oral secretions from an infected person can spread the virus too, even on shared beverages or “utensils”. That term “utensils” typically refers to forks and implements used for eating, but any implement placed on the mouth where salivary droplets reside and virus is shed has the potential to transmit herpes.

How contagious is it? 

You have to put this in perspective, however, the herpes virus is a fragile virus because expert microbiology sources site its ability to survive off the human body as “brief.” The plot thickens though because expert sources also note that the herpes virus can survive on the body “slightly longer” when present in a warm and moist environment. It also survives better on surfaces such as plastic as opposed to metal. Other sources report the ability of herpes simplex to survive longer off the body and the herpes simplex virus can remain active for up to a day in distilled water and 4 hours in tap water. All this is to say that passing the troublesome herpes virus around it is NOT as difficult as we would like. It’s hard to know your risk when you are sharing items that touch skin and lips.

What is really important to know is that once infected, herpes virus is shed from skin, even in the absence of a visible cold sore. Most people who have a history of a herpes cold sore on their facial skin harbor the virus around the mouth or nose, making lip products the most likely makeup for transferring herpes. The virus can be present anywhere on the face however. Another reason not to share any other makeup as well.

What is the Realistic Risk in sharing chapsticks, lipsticks, etc? 

It’s probably low given the fragile nature of the virus, BUT, it’s possible. There is no study to give us a statistic for this specific risk. Since preserving virus activity requires moisture, actively exchanging lipstick or cosmetic brushes would be the biggest risk; theoretically droplets of infected saliva or sweat could pass the virus to a non-infected person. We also know that active herpes simplex virus has been found on the hands of people with active infection. This is one of the main modes by which people spread herpes cold sores to other parts of their own skin. Basically, living in a microbial world is – em, well, interesting and brave.
Best Practices to Prevent It or Just not Spreading It
Special care needs to be taken to ensure one does not contract viruses and contagious things when going about daily life. 

  • Keeping our cosmetics and cosmetic brushes to ourselves the way we keep our toothbrushes to ourselves.
  • Maintaining good makeup and brush hygiene:
    • Keep your brushes clean. When they start to wear out, replace them.
    • Don’t set brushes or makeup applicators down on soiled surfaces. I recommend using a clean facial tissue or wash cloth as a “placemat” to place your brushes when applying your makeup.
    • Wash and dry your brushes regularily.
  • Wash your hands before applying makeup, especially to your eyes.
  • At makeup counters, or when having makeup applied by professionals, scrutinize things first to ensure care is taken to not cross contaminate people or product:
    • Be certain that single use applicators are used to apply makeup to people’s skin.
    • Watch for ‘double dipping’ meaning placing an applicator that has touched skin back into a product.

Click HERE to see the full article.


Fatahzadeh M1, Schwartz RA, Human herpes simplex virus infections: epidemiology, pathogenesis, symptomatology, diagnosis, and management, J Am Acad Dermatol. 2007 Nov;57(5):737-63;

James, William D., Berger, Timothy G et. al. Andrews Diseases of the Skin, Elsevier, 12th edition, pp 359-365

Mark D. Sobsey, and John Scott Meschke, VIRUS SURVIVAL IN THE ENVIRONMENT WITH SPECIAL ATTENTION TO SURVIVAL IN SEWAGE DROPLETS ANDOTHER ENVIRONMENTAL MEDIA OF FECAL ORRESPIRATORY ORIGIN, University of North Carolina, School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering CB# 7431, McGavran-Greenberg Hall, Room 4114a, Chapel Hill, NC. 27599-7431 USA,University of Washington, School of Public Health & Community Medicine, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, 4225 Roosevelt Way NE, Suite 100, Box 354695, Seattle, WA 98195-6099 USA Draft – August 21, 2003


  1. Different people suffer from different skin conditions. So, there are chances that these skin care problems are transferable to person to person. But it is advisable to not to use others skin care products.

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  2. It's true that we should not share our skincare products. In today's date safe skin care has become a necessity and it is important to look for the products and not share them because it can lead to various skin diseases. Thanks for sharing such an informative information.

  3. Great products surely gonna try these. Everyone has his idea of beauty, and we need to have things, people and places of beauty in our everyday life. In the words of a poet a thing of beauty is a joy forever. I like the skincare routine.

  4. Basic skincare is more important than makeup. If you don't have good skin no makeup will give a change. Skincare is something which every girl want to do without making any specific effort.