Turns out your make-up bag is crawling with superbugs and bacteria

Turns out your makeup bag is crawling with superbugs and bacteria

Ladies, it doesn’t matter if you store your make-up in a luxe cosmetics bag or a middle-of-the-road cosmetics bag.

If you don’t wash your hands, or clean your make-up applicators, chances are your make-up bag is riddled with dangerous superbugs including E. coli, staphylococci, and salmonella.

Researchers from Birmingham’s Aston University tested 467 in-use eyeliners, lipsticks, mascaras, sponges and lip glosses and found the bacteria in more than nine out of ten in-use beauty products.

“The results were astonishing,” said study leader, microbiologist and Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences Dr Amreen Bashir.

“We found that 70 per cent to 90 per cent of all our products were contaminated.”

Beauty blenders the worst in bacteria

The worst culprit, she said, were the beauty blenders, a hugely popular cosmetics product that can be described as a teardrop-shaped sponge that is used to apply make-up.

They were not only the most likely to contain harmful bacteria, but, “twenty-six per cent of these had faecal matter present on them,” said Dr Bashir.

The tests found that nearly all beauty blenders (93 per cent) had not ever been cleaned, despite more than two thirds (64 per cent) being dropped on the floor at some point during use.

The research is the first to look at beauty blenders, which are ubiquitous, operate under the trademarked name BEAUTYBLENDER (although there are knockoffs), and have sold 6.5 million products worldwide. A standard BEAUTYBLENDER recommends that it be replaced after three months, and the brand does sell a liquid and solid accompanying cleanser.

After the bacteria on the beauty blender products, the highest concentration was found on eyeliner, mascara, and lipstick.

The problem

Researchers found the bacteria on blending sponges, mascara and lip gloss testing. But there was also user error: owners said the items had not been washed after being dropped on the floor or were far past their expiration date.

Next steps: companies should educate consumers

Dr Bashir said cosmetic companies should do more to protect customers by making expiration dates and cleaning requirements more recognisable on the packaging.

She also expressed concern over consumers’ “poor hygiene practices when it comes to using make-up, especially beauty blenders”.

Dr Bashir called for more to be done to educate consumers and the cosmetics industry about the necessity to cleanse beauty blenders often and make sure they are completely dry, as well as not using cosmetics after its expiration date.

Tips: wash, clean, and repeat

Bashir had some tips to keep your make-up bag and make-up as bacteria-free as possible.

Although it seemed surprising that adult women needed tips about washing their make-up applicators, hands, and face – apparently this study proves they do.

Here’s what you can do:

  • “Always wash your hands and your face before applying any products.”
  • “Always discard your products by the expiration date.”
  • “Always keep your products clean. This means washing your applicators, your brushes, and your beauty blenders.” (All you need to do to cleanse a beauty blender is run it under warm water and rub it against a bar of soap).
  • “Never, ever share your products with anybody else.”

The research was led by Dr Amreen Bashir and Professor Peter Lambert of Aston University’s School of Life and Health Sciences. The findings were published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology.


This article was written by Sheila McClear and originally published on The Ladders.

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