Bugs such as E. coli and staphylococcus were found to have contaminated nine out of ten cosmetic products.
Beauty blenders were found to have the highest levels of harmful bacteria. But since bacteria are smart (in their own tiny way) and sneaky and everywhere, it's good to know the places where the harmful ones thrive. Without knowing it, makeup users may be putting themselves at risk.
Such are the findings of new research from Aston University, where scientists tested 467 in-use makeup products collected from women in the UK. Beauty blenders, meanwhile, refer to products used to apply certain makeup products, including sponges commonly used to blend foundation into the skin. "We found that 70 to 90 percent of all products were contaminated with bacteria".
While about 57 percent of beauty blenders, along with 37 percent of lipsticks and 28 percent of eyeliners were discovered to be carrying fungi.
In-use makeup products refer to makeup that has been purchased and is being used by the recipient. Since their introduction, some 6.5 million of them have been sold worldwide. The researchers say these products are particularly vulnerable to contamination because they are moistened before using and then left damp and unwashed, which creates the flawless breeding ground for harmful bacteria.
"Presence of Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli and Citrobacter freundii was detected".
This was despite more than two thirds (64 percent) of beauty blenders being dropped on the floor at some point during use, they said.
Potential harms range from skin infections to blood poisoning if used near the eyes, mouth or if products come into contact with cuts and grazes. Nine out of 10 cosmetic products now being used are contaminated with potentially harmful superbugs, including E. coli and Staphylococci, with beauty blenders, mascara, and lip gloss containing the highest levels of bacteria. In the United States, there are less stringent regulations, for example, there are no requirements to put expiration dates on makeup packaging at all.
Dr Bashir told the Journal of Applied Microbiology: "Consumers' poor hygiene practices when it comes to using makeup, 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".
Post-Brexit, UK consumers could be at even greater risk as they will no longer be protected by European Union regulations and could find themselves purchasing more beauty products from the U.S. - for example - where there are no regulatory requirements to put expiry dates on make-up packaging at all.
Aside from all the packaging waste and harmful ingredients of many makeup products, could the surprise bonus of harmful bacteria urge more people to simplify their makeup regimen? You can read about Katherine's account of doing just that, here: I used to be a beauty routine maximalist.