Sephora has announced it's closing all of its retail stores in the U.S. and Canada by 5 p.m. (ET) on March 17 until April 3—and the company's corporate staff will be working from home. “We have always taken our responsibility to protect the well-being of our people and community seriously. It was with that responsibility in mind that we made this decision,” company CEO Jean-André Rougeot wrote in an email to customers. The company's websites in America and Canada will remain operational and are offering free shipping through April 3.
"We also recognize that we are in a position to support the collective fight against COVID-19," the email continued. "Following guidance from public health authorities, we understand that practicing social distancing and reducing dense public gatherings as much as possible is critically important at this time. This is truly a global effort that requires all of our participation."
Sephora will continue pay employees (and offer health benefits) during the retail shutdown. "All store employees will continue to receive their base pay for scheduled shifts for the duration of this closure," the company wrote. "In addition, health and wellness benefits for employees who are currently enrolled will continue. And all distribution center employees will receive the same considerations should we experience any unplanned disruptions in one of our centers."
You can read Sephora's full statement here.
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."
In contrast to all the news of people racing for toilet paper and clearing shelves of pasta sauce, it seems implied that right now might not exactly be the best time to smear a lipstick on your mouth that someone else just recently swatched. And yet some, it seems, are still going about it.
"I generally do not recommend using makeup testers in stores, and I am even more vigilant about my recommendation in the environment of the coronavirus," says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. He says theoretically it's possible to spread coronavirus through makeup testers, as viruses can be spread through direct contact and live in moist environments (like foundation and lip gloss). "The only time would be okay to use makeup testers is if they are used under clean conditions, the actual tester never touches anyone’s skin, and the applicator is never double dipped into the makeup," he says. "Unfortunately, it is impossible to guarantee that this is the case, so it's best not to use makeup testers at all."
Clean beauty retailer Credo is one of the few who have actually removed samples. In a statement to Glamour, Credo's CEO Dawn Dobra says the retailer has removed all open pots and makeup brushes, and are not allowing self-testing. Instead, shoppers must ask associates for help, and employees will be cleaning and disinfecting the stores at an increased frequency.
To avoid the issue of samples and crowds altogether, Glossier announced it would be closing all its stores on Friday morning (March 13). In the statement, CEO Emily Weiss mentions that the brand's New York store alone attracts more than 2,000 people daily, and points to the importance of "social distancing" as a way of keeping people safe. Weiss noted that since personal connection is such a crucial part of the brand, Glossier will be upping its social media presence, as well as brainstorming new ways to connect via online shopping.
The brand will also continue to pay its hourly workers throughout the closures—a move that as been well-received online as people have growing concerns over the impact social distancing will have on retail workers, as well as others in the beauty service industry such as hairstylists, makeup artists, and nail techs.
So if the thought of a new lipstick is something you look forward to, consider putting free shipping to good use and pick it up online.
Bella Cacciatore is the beauty associate at Glamour. Follow her on Instagram @bellacacciatore_.
Originally Appeared on Glamour