When I was younger, I didn’t hesitate to share my lipglosses and mascaras with my friends. I had no idea we could give one another an infection that way. Luckily, that never happened but, when I think back on how reckless we were, I cringe.
These days, I’m a lot more picky. I rarely share my makeup and, when I do, I spritz that eyeshadow with alcohol faster than I can say “I do”. It doesn’t exactly make me Miss Popular with my friends, but, hey, safety first.
But, what about skincare? I’ve never given that one much thought until recently. I guess it’s because no one ever asked me if they could borrow my moisturiser while retouching our makeup in the club’ toilet on a Saturday night.
Now that we’re getting older and my skin’s aging better (told you going to the beach every day wasn’t a good idea, ladies!), they all want to steal what I’m using.
But, is that a good idea? The last thing I want is to give my BFF an infection or a face full of pimples.
The short answer? It depends on the packaging.
The long one? Read on:
If It Comes In A Jar, Don’t Share It
Every time you dip your dainty little finger into a jar, 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 hands before doing your skincare routine. If you do, any nasty bacteria are much more likely to end up down the drain than in your precious jar.
But what if your friend isn’t as diligent as you?
Besides, you should avoid anything packaged in a jar, anyway. Antioxidants lose a bit of their effectiveness every time they are exposed to light and air (read: every time you open the jar).
Related: Why You Shouldn’t Use Skincare Products Packaged In Jars
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What About Bar Soap?
Bacteria thrive in moist environments. Bar soaps are often moist (they take their sweet time to dry after each use). That makes them the perfect playground for bacteria.
In theory, they should give everyone an infection. The truth is a bit more complicated. Let’s look at the science, shall we?
A 2011 study 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!
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. They do it quickly and carelessly. That’s why there are way more bacteria on their hands.
As long as you wash your hands properly, it’s unlikely you’ll get an infection. But, keep your bar soaps away from children. Just in case.
Related: Why You Should NEVER Use Soap To Wash Your Face
The Bottom Line
Most skincare products can be shared with friends – as long as they have your same skin type and concerns (if not, they won’t do them much good, will they?). 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?