Would you buy used makeup? Health expert says deals don’t outweigh risks

Click to play video: 'Health expert warns against buying used makeup'
Health expert warns against buying used makeup
WATCH ABOVE: Buying previously used goods can be a great way to save money. But as Su-Ling Goh reports, one health expert says the savings might not be the risk when it comes to buying used makeup – Mar 21, 2017

Buying previously owned cars, tools, even clothing can be a great way to save money. So how about used makeup?

High-end cosmetics aren’t cheap, and choosing the right colour can be hit and miss. Stores sometimes won’t accept returns on opened packages, or if they do, the products are thrown in the trash.

That’s what inspired best friends Jinan Khaled and Mia Dowaidi to start their Facebook page: Edmonton Makeup/Beauty Buy & Sell.

“Just in case someone wants to try a product and not pay full price for it… why not?” Khaled said.

The 20-year-old students say most of their sellers spray gently used cosmetics with alcohol to kill germs. One microbiologist says that’s not enough.

“The alcohol won’t get at any bacteria that are even slightly protected by the makeup,” said Dr. Allison McGeer of Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital.

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READ MORE: ‘It just gets gross’: beauty expert on some of our makeup habits

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McGeer likens buying used makeup to buying a used toothbrush. But she adds that doesn’t mean it’s dangerous.

“We have close contact with people, we kiss them, we hug them, we have contact with their faces, their hands all the time,” McGeer said.

“We naturally share bacteria and viruses with people. And sharing makeup is not all that different.”

McGeer says infections like cold sores and pink eye are possible. The worst case scenario would be a multi-drug-resistant gram-negative bacteria that can kill you.

But she says you’re much more likely to die in a car crash than by dirty cosmetics.

While she doesn’t feel the deals are worth the risk, McGeer advises secondhand shoppers to remove the top layer of products like eyeshadows and blushes with a clean tool.

WATCH: How to keep your makeup brushes clean

Professional makeup artist and instructor Amber Prepchuk doesn’t buy used, but she does apply the same makeup on multiple clients. To keep things sanitary, she uses a stainless steel spatula and disposable applicators.

If you’re going to purchase pre-owned, Prepchuk recommends avoiding anything that can be double-dipped such as lip gloss, mascara or liquid eyeliner.

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Khaled and Dowaidi’s Facebook page has more than 6,400 members in the Edmonton area alone. They’re now considering their own international website.

“I mean, if you don’t feel comfortable, don’t do it,” Khaled said. “If you’re OK with paying full price, then that’s fine.”

Beauty buffs can also buy and sell “unloved” cosmetics on Glambot and Kijiji.

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