Superbugs E.coli and fungi found in nine out of 10 make-up bags
Harmful superbugs E.coli, staphylococcus and fungi have been found lurking in women’s make-up bags.
Nine in 10 make-up products, including mascaras, lip glosses and beauty blenders (sponges used to apply foundation), were found to be affected, discovered scientists from Aston University’s School of Life and Health Sciences.
More than half of lipsticks (56%) and lip glosses (55%) were found to be carrying staphylococcus bacteria (which can cause infections on the skin), along with 69% of mascaras, 72% of beauty blenders and 77% of eyeliners.
One in 10 lipsticks and lip glosses were harbouring E.coli (which can cause gastrointestinal infections) and other related germs, while beauty blenders (57%), lipsticks (37%) and eyeliners (28%) were discovered carrying fungi.
Beauty blenders had the highest levels of potentially harmful bacteria overall as 93% of users had never cleaned them – and more than half of respondents (64%) had admitted to dropping them on the floor at some point too.
Lead by Dr Amreen Bashir and Professor Peter Lambert, the scientists tested 467 lipsticks, lip glosses, eyeliners, mascaras and beauty blenders in make-up bags, and said many were contaminated because they were not being cleaned regularly or were being used long after their expiry date.
Reasons such as people failing to wash their hands after using the toilet and then applying make-up, or dropping their make-up sponges on the floor, were also cited.
This news follows another recent study which highlighted that a quarter of Brits are using out-of-date beauty products.
What are the risks?
These different bacteria can cause illnesses ranging from skin infections to blood poisoning if used near the eyes, mouth or on cuts and grazes, the researchers said in the study. This risk is amplified in people with a weak immune system.
“Consumers’ poor hygiene practices when it comes to using make-up, especially beauty blenders, is very worrying when you consider that we found bacteria such as E. coli – which is linked with faecal contamination – breeding on the products we tested,” Dr Bashir told the Journal of Applied Microbiology.
“More needs to be done to help educate consumers and the make-up industry about the need to wash beauty blenders regularly and dry them thoroughly, as well as the risks of using make-up beyond its expiry date.”
EU guidance states that manufacturers have to adhere to strict hygiene standards with make-up products but protection is limited once products are opened and used.