Reality check: Should you throw away your lipstick after being sick?

Click to play video: 'Here’s how long germs, viruses last on your lip products'
Here’s how long germs, viruses last on your lip products
WATCH: Here’s how long germs, viruses last on your lip products – Mar 2, 2018

You should throw away any lip products you use when you’re sick – at least, that’s what one health and safety investigator in the U.S. claims should be done.

Morgan Statt, who works for, spoke to The Independent recently about germs found on beauty products, and points to lip products as the worst offenders for harbouring pathogens.

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According to Statt, you should dispose of any lip product after using them while sick, as she says your “lip lining are a natural gateway to your respiratory tract,” which can leave you at an increased risk of infection and illness.

And it’s not only cold and flu viruses, she says, but also the Herpes simplex virus.

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Is that true – and if so, is it really necessary to throw out your lip products every time you get over an illness?

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Yes, it’s possible for viruses to live on lip products, Canadian microbiologist Jason Tetro says, but it’s not necessary to throw away your lipstick or lip balm every time.

“There are antimicrobial preservative compounds that are in different types of makeups and cosmetics, and those are fairly good at being able to prevent growth and spread afterwards,” Tetro explains. “They just take a long time to work.”

And having these preservative compounds has become an international standard, Tetro adds.

So with that in mind, he says, we’d have to look at how long the viruses and bacteria could potentially survive.

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In the case of cold and flu germs, they only live a couple hours, however, for herpes and the mumps pathogens, they will survive for several days.

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“Do you need to throw them out? Probably not,” Tetro says. “But the thing is, if you’re sick and you’re applying them, you probably don’t want to be sharing them – and more importantly, after you’ve recovered, just let them sit for about a week before you use them again.”

This will give any germs present on your lip product the chance to disappear, Tetro explains.

But it’s also important to remember that any makeup and beauty product has the potential to spread pathogens if they’re shared.

For example, sharing mascara could result in an eye infection, like pink eye, Tetro points out.

“Anything that is going to be touching your skin is potentially going to become contaminated,” he says.

So if you really feel the need to disinfect your products, Tetro says, there are wipes available that are impregnated with alcohol that can do the trick, and can be found in many places that sell makeup and beauty products.

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But if you’re keeping the products just for yourself, there’s no need to worry about getting sick again, he adds.

“The golden rule is not to share bodily fluids,” Tetro says. “You really should not be sharing your cosmetics with anyone else.”

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