As growing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic mount, just about every industry—from restaurants and theater to film and music—has been forced to make sweeping changes to limit people’s exposure to one another. Beauty retailers, whose very sales depend on people touching their eyes, lips, and faces, especially are reckoning with health experts’ guidelines to promote social distancing and restricted contact.
Over the last few days, it’s led several retailers to reconsider their policies and double down on sanitation concerns. Many, like Sephora and Ulta Beauty, have announced they’re suspending in-store services, including facials and makeup application, to limit physical contact—while Glossier has decided to close its stores entirely.
On March 11, Sephora announced in an email to its customers and via its community page that the retailer is taking concerns seriously, and would be suspending all in-store services, makeup applications, and classes until further notice. The statement also noted that “high-touch areas” would be regularly cleaned with hospital-grade disinfectant and there will be increased hand sanitizer access throughout the store. Additionally, all testers would be regularly cleaned and “replaced as needed.” The brand will also offer free shipping on every purchase through the end of March to encourage people to shop from home.
Ulta is taking similar precautions. On March 11, Ulta CEO Mary Dillon posted a statement on the retailer’s website explaining that store cleanliness is Ulta’s “top priority,” and that “increased sanitization measures are being added to all locations with extra attention to product testers and high traffic areas.” She also urged shoppers to ask associates for help with samples, and to reschedule any in-store services. In an update on March 12, Dillon announced Ulta would also be suspending skin, brow, wax, and lash services, and would be implementing a “no-touch policy” when it comes to services like shade matching. Hair appointments will continue, with an emphasis on cleanliness.
However, one amenity a majority of retailers haven’t halted yet—to much discussion on the internet—is makeup testers.
One Ulta employee told Insider she finds it “astonishing” how willing customers are to use testers given the current health crisis, adding she even had someone ask if they could buy a sample lipstick since they liked the oxidized shade better. The New York Times reports that though one Sephora store they visited was being diligent about wiping down surfaces, “early this week consultants in at least one store were still applying makeup from common testers to customers.”