When I was younger, I didn’t hesitate to share my lipglosses and mascaras with friends. Who knew you could catch an infection that way? Thankfully, I have always been lucky, but thinking back to the unnecessary risks I took, I cringe.
Over the years, I learnt how to sanitize my makeup products so I could safely share them. I also learnt what things (anything wit a dip in wand) can’t be sanitized and should be used only by me (which doesn’t always make me very popular; but safety first!).
But, until recently, I had never given much thought to my skincare products. I guess that’s because we all have different skin types, and what works for one person may not work for someone else.
If your skin is dry and flaky you certainly wouldn’t ask your oily-skinned girlfriend to lend you her moisturizer, would you? If your mom is looking for something to reduce the appearance of her dark spots, your anti-acne serum wouldn’t help her much, would it?
But what if you have the same skin type? Or the same skin problems? Could you share skincare products then? As too often happens, there is not a clear-cut answer. It depends. Mostly on the packaging.
Anything That Comes In A Jar Should Never Be Shared
Every time you dip your little finger into it, some of the bacteria on it may find their way into the pot. If these bacteria happen to be dangerous, they could give your friend an infection.
I admit the risk is tiny. Especially if you wash your hand well beforehand. Then, nasty bacteria will end up down the drain rather than in your moisturizer. But what if your friend isn’t as diligent as you? Does she washes her hands before dipping her fingers into a moisturizer? Or, not knowing about the risks, she doesn’t?
If you can, you should avoid products packaged in jars anyway. Basic formulas are safely preserved even in small pots, but anything with antioxidants needs to be housed in an opaque, air-tight tube or bottle to make them last longer. Every time they are exposed to light and air, which happens every time you open a jar, they lose a bit of their effectiveness.
If you are still in your teens, or are using a serum chock full of antioxidants, a basic moisturizer will work well for you. But if you are concerned about ageing, a moisturizer with antioxidants is a must. Jars don’t protect them and more easily allow bacteria to work their way inside them, so why use them? Don’t.
What About Bar Soap?
We know bacteria thrive in moist environments and bar soap are often moist. They take a while to dry after each use. That makes them the perfect playground for bacteria.
A 2011 study has discovered that using bar soap contaminated with bacteria can indeed transfer them from person to person. But don’t rush to throw yours out just yet. Another study has found the opposite. Scientists infected bar soap with bacteria and found they were unlikely to get transferred on skin during handwashing.
So, who’s right? Probably both. Let me explain. The first study was conducted on a group of students and their teachers. The results found that “significantly higher levels of Gram-negative bacteria were recovered from students than were recovered from staff after washing with contaminated bulk soap.”
For the second study, “sixteen panelists were instructed to wash with the inoculated bars using their normal handwashing procedure. After washing, none of the 16 panelists had detectable levels of either test bacterium on their hands.”
This difference in bacteria transfer is probably due to the way we wash our hands. Adults are usually more throughout. They spend more time making sure they clean every single part of their hands, including the areas between each finger and under their fingernails, and rinse well. Children don’t like washing hands and tend to do so more quickly. As a result, mor bacteria, after rinsing, remain on their hands.
As long as you wash your hands properly, you shouldn’t worry about bacteria contamination. But, if you have children, having liquid soap in the house may be best. Or you’d have to supervise them each time they wash their little hands.
The Bottom Line
Most skincare products can be shared with friends and family members who have your same skin type and concerns. But beware of anything that comes in a jar and bar soaps. They are more likely to transfer bacteria, so use them carefully. The risk may be tiny, but why take it?
Do you share your skincare products?