Do I Need To Throw Away Lipstick After A Cold Sore? [No, but…]

Broken red lipstick on old wooden background
  • You don’t have to discard lipstick after a cold sore because the virus is already in your body, but should avoid sharing it with others during an active outbreak and clean all makeup brushes and products regularly to prevent bacteria build up to avoid reinfection.
  • Cold sores are small blisters caused by the herpes simplex virus that typically appear on the mouth, lips, cheeks or chin.
  • They are incredibly common, with 50-80% of adults having experienced them in their lifetime.
  • The initial infection is acquired when you’re in close physical touch with someone who has an active infection.
  • Once you have the cold sore virus, it remains in your body for life and can become active again under certain conditions (stress, burnout, lowered immune system etc.)
  • Cold sores are infectious from the moment you feel a tingling sensation until they go away and can be spread through close physical contact or sharing personal items like lipstick.

My friend always asks me for beauty advice. She knows that I’m the resident expert, what with my three-years of experience working at a makeup counter and all. So when she got a cold sore, she came to me for help.

“What do I do?” she wailed, her lip quivering. “I don’t want to throw away my lipstick!”

I told her that you don’t have to throw it out because the virus is already in your body. But, I advised her to clean her lipstick thoroughly with alcohol before each use.

“And don’t share your lip products with anyone!” I added.

The reason being , is that you can actually reinfect yourself with the virus if you use a contaminated lip product. So make sure to clean it before each use, and don’t share!

My friend was relieved to hear that she didn’t have to throw away her beloved lipstick. But she was extra careful from then on, making sure to clean it if she has a cold sore flareup.


Should I throw away lipstick after a cold sore?

Exclamation point in garbage can
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After discussing the causes and transmission of cold sores, we may move on to the topic of what to do with your favorite lipstick. Lipstick can be used after a cold sore has healed, as the virus is carried indefinitely by the host.

If there’s one thing you must do, it’s to hoard your own supply of lip stains, lip balms, and cosmetic brushes. Never give them to anyone, but especially not after you’ve had a cold sore. Don’t even consider applying someone else’s makeup or utilizing their cosmetics.

If you just got over a cold, you can keep using your lipstick without worrying about reinfecting yourself with the virus. That’s because your immune system kills the virus and prevents it from infecting you again.

However, the period of time a respiratory virus can remain dormant on a surface varies with the climatic circumstances and the viral strain.

Because the germs in lipstick may be able to survive for longer than they would in your mouth, you should toss it out if you’ve recently been sick with anything more serious than a cold, such as strep throat, flu, mono, or a cold sore.

Makeup brushes and cosmetics should be washed and sterilized regularly. You don’t have to throw out your lipstick just because bacteria have built up on your makeup brushes from repeated use.

What harm might old makeup and soiled brushes do, anyway? Acne. It’s something we should all try to prevent.

It’s neither attractive nor enjoyable to have a cold sore. It’s not right that a cold sore means giving up your favorite lipstick. Does a cold sore necessitate the complete replacement of your lipstick?

This article explains in detail if you should throw away lipstick after a cold sore.

What Is a Cold Sore?

Part of a young woman's face with a virus herpes on lips
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Let’s start with the basics and define what a cold sore actually is. The herpes simplex virus is responsible for cold sores and fever blisters. They are little blisters that manifest in the mouth, on the lips, the cheeks, and the chin.

Appearing less commonly on the oral interior. Between fifty percent and eighty percent of all individuals will get a cold sore at some point in their lives. So, if you have a cold sore right now, you shouldn’t feel embarrassed or ashamed.

What Causes a Cold Sore?

Initial transmission of the cold sore virus occurs through direct, physical contact with an infected person. The problem with cold sores, however, is that the virus remains dormant in your nervous system indefinitely after an infection.

But it doesn’t imply your cold sore will remain noticeable indefinitely! This implies the cold sores have a chance to start acting up again.

What triggers a cold sore to reappear?

Recurrences of cold sores can be triggered by a number of different things, including but not limited to stress, burnout, a weakened immune system, fever, exposure to sunlight, and physical harm. Cold sores tend to return to the same spots they were previously present.

The good news is that you won’t have to worry about cold sores cropping up once a week or even once a month. In most cases, a recurrence occurs just once a year.

Are Cold Sores Contagious?

Absolutely, from the time you first feel the prickling sensation of a cold sore developing all the way until the sore heals on its own, you can spread the virus to others. Avoid direct physical contact with people if you don’t want to catch the infection from them.

And don’t pass the mashed potatoes or your lipstick around.


Makeup brushes are reusable, although disposable applicators are preferable. Keep your hands and makeup tools clean at all times and use clean tools. And if you’re part of that weird group of pals who constantly swaps lipsticks and other beauty products, you should really stop doing that immediately.

This is because there is a possibility that transmitting viruses and skin diseases like warts and molluscum by sharing lipsticks. You can use it anyway, but you should blot it on some tissue first.