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Many beauty products contain deadly superbugs, researchers say

Mascara, lip gloss, and other popular products could be more dangerous than many consumers realize

Photo (c) czoborraul - Getty Images
Earlier this year, researchers found that hospital patients could be contributing to the spread of superbugs through their hands. 

Now, a new study conducted by researchers from Aston University found that household make-up products, like beauty blenders and mascara, could be a hotspot for deadly superbugs. 

“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,” said researcher Dr. Amreen Bashir. 

Keeping beauty products clean

To understand how beauty products could be a host for superbugs, the researchers tested popular make-up products that were donated for the purposes of the study. 

All donated products had been used by consumers and were put into one of five categories before the researchers tested them for various strains of bacteria: beauty blenders, mascara, lip gloss, eyeliner, and lipstick. 

The researchers found that 90 percent of all products donated for the study had been contaminated; the team detected traces of E.coli, the bacteria known to cause staph infections, and Citrobacter freundii.   

The study revealed that beauty blenders, which have grown in popularity recently, were the biggest culprits of such bacteria. The researchers say these products are susceptible to new bacteria as they’re often left damp after each use. To make matters worse, over 60 percent of consumers reported using beauty blender after dropping it on the floor, while over 90 percent never cleaned these products.

Importance of proper hygiene

These findings are particularly important because consumers buy and utilize beauty products on a regular basis, and many are unaware of the bacteria they could be exposing themselves to. 

Moving forward, the researchers hope that consumers taking their beauty product hygiene seriously, as these findings highlight how they could be contaminating themselves with a wide array of life-threatening bacteria. 

“More needs to be done to help educate consumers and the make-up industry as a whole 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,” said Dr. Bashir. 

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