Revealed: How Dirty Makeup Powder can Breed Bacteria Infection


For as many that love to apply pancakes, foundation and concealer using the powder or sponge, a study conducted by several scientists from the School of Life and Health Sciences at Aston University in Birmingham, United Kingdom, have recently found that many makeup products that have passed their expiry dates, as well as many beauty tools particularly, makeup sponges not periodically clean, harbour potentially dangerous bacteria, such as staphylococcus aureus and escherichia coli.

Makeups are substances or products used to enhance or alter the appearance of the face or fragrance and texture of the body. Many makeups are designed for use of applying to the face and body. They are generally mixtures of chemical compounds derived from natural sources, or may be synthetic or artificial.

According to recent data, as of May 2017, 31 percent of people aged 18–29 years, 41 percent of people aged 30–59 years, and 35 percent of individuals aged 60 years and over wear makeup on a daily basis.

When people apply makeup in places like public toilet, bathrooms, on car, train, and plane, it is established that journeys give makeup powders and associated beauty tools plenty of chances to gather potentially dangerous bacteria.

All makeup products have a “shelf life,” which refers to the period during which they are typically safe to use. The duration of this period varies from product to product, and improper use of makeup such as rubbing eye shadow with unclean fingers can affect it, too.

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Revealed: How Dirty Makeup Powder can Breed Bacteria Infection
Revealed: How Dirty Makeup Powder can Breed Bacteria Infection

Many companies use a symbol (an opened makeup jar) and a number representing a number of months on the packaging to indicate how long these products are safe to use for after a person has opened them.

European Union regulations enforce the rule that all makeup products on sale in countries should feature this shelf life information, which they call “period of time after opening,” on the packaging.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), “[t]here are no U.S. laws or regulations that require cosmetics [including makeup] to have specific shelf lives or have expiration dates on their labels.” As a result, in the U.S., at least, manufacturers can get away with not giving consumers any information about the length of time for which a makeup product remains safe.

Additionally, many makeup users also own special tools, such as brushes and sponges, to apply their products. These tools, too, can easily pick up harmful bacteria, but many users still neglect to clean them as frequently as they should.

The study also shows that the existing evidences that makeup products and cosmetic applicators harbor dangerous bacteria.

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Prof. Peter Lambert analyzed samples from 467 beauty products that U.K. users had donated. These products included: 96 lipsticks, 92 eyeliners, 93 mascaras, 107 lip glosses, and 79 beauty blenders (makeup powders that people use to apply foundation or concealer).

The researchers’ tests revealed that about 70–90 percent of all these products were contaminated with bacteria and that beauty blenders were the worst offenders.

Predominantly, the investigators found S. aureus, E. coli, and Citrobacter freundii — which bacteria are associated with skin infections, food poisoning, and urinary tract infections (UTIs), respectively.

“The majority of contaminants were found to be staphylococci/micrococci. Enterobacteriaceae were also detected in all product types, with particularly high prevalence in the beauty blenders (26.58 percent),” the researchers write in their study paper.

Beauty blenders also had the highest rate of contamination with fungi, at 56.96 percent. The investigators believe that this is because people must first moisten these powders to be able to apply makeup with them. Moist surfaces, the study authors explain, provide fertile breeding grounds for fungi.

Some of the highest loads of bacterial contaminants particularly Enterobacteriaceae were also present in lip glosses, with lipsticks demonstrating the lowest rate of contamination.

According to self-reported information from the people who had sent these products to Bashir and Prof. Lambert for their research, only 6.4percent of beauty products had ever received a cleaning. None of the submitted mascara wands had ever undergone cleaning.

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Also, from the self-reported data, people typically applied as many as 27.3 percent of the beauty products and particularly eyeliner in bathrooms, which can lead to contamination with fecal matter.

Disturbingly, it also turned out that people had dropped 28.7 percent of the products on the floor, which can teem with bacteria. Of the beauty blender samples, people had handled or stored 35.6 percent of them in bathrooms and dropped as many as 64.4 percent of them on the floor.

The researchers warn that these findings may spell trouble, particularly for immune compromised individuals who are more prone to infection.

Amreen Bashir, Ph.D. said, “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 fecal contamination — breeding on the products we tested.”

“More needs to be done to help educate consumers and the makeup industry as a whole about the need to wash beauty blenders regularly and dry them thoroughly, as well as the risks of using makeup beyond its expiry date,” Bashir emphasized.


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