When you go to a concert, you don't expect to get herpes. Well, maybe some people consider it a possibility, but anyone who's just there for the music (and cosmetic samples) probably doesn't. And yet, one woman is now suing MAC Cosmetics because she believes they gave her mouth herpes through a contaminated lipstick sample at a Rihanna concert.
CBS News reports that a 28-year-old Harlem woman filed a lawsuit alleging that MAC's contaminated RiRi Woo lipstick (Rihanna's MAC lipstick line) at a concert on May 7. So the story goes, Starkeema Greenidge was offered to try the lipstick at the concert. The cosmetics representative applied the lipstick to the woman's lips and then encouraged to press her lips together and spread it around, as one might do in such a scenerio. Two days later, her lips began to swell and after a trip to the doctor, she learned that she had a cold sore, which was the result of contracting Herpes simplex virus (HSV-1).
For the lawsuit to hold up, they'd probably have to prove that the lipstick caused the herpes, which might be tricky, considering herpes can be transmitted a variety of ways and remain dormant indefinitely. It could have just been a coincidence that the virus showed up days after the concert. Or she got it from the lipstick, which is one way to contract the virus. That's for the Manhattan Supreme Court to settle or the lawyers to sort out one way or the other.
Granted, I tend to be a bit neurotic in certain circumstances, but I've always found make-up samples at cosmetic counters to be kind of icky, excluding anything that's individually wrapped. There are infections that can be contracted through the mouth and eyes, so I'd be reluctant to use make-up that's been previously used by strangers, or anyone really. On the ick-factor, I'd probably compare that to taking a bite out of a partially eaten piece of food left out on a store counter. And from what CBS News' article says, I may not be paranoid for thinking that way:
Dr. Elizabeth Brooks, a biological sciences professor at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia who conducted a study on germs in public makeup, told the Los Angeles Times that her team found staph, strep and even E. coli bacteria on makeup testers in department stores, specialty stores and drugstores. The bacteria was especially high on Saturdays, the day of the week where the stores had the most traffic.
As the article goes on to say, based on what Dr. Brooks added, samples can be applied with a new disposable applicator, which may be how MAC will go about their make-up sample approach in the future. The Daily Beast reported the following statement from MAC:
Consumer safety is a top priority at MAC Cosmetics, and we take these matters very seriously. We are closely reviewing these claims.