There Might Be Infectious Bacteria Lurking In Your Makeup Bag, According to a New Study

Take notes if you’ve been skimping on cleaning your beauty blender.

Even if it takes a few minutes, rummaging through your makeup bag and cleaning up its contents completely – not to mention tossing something you’ve had for too long – is a task that somehow manages to fall into oblivion more often than you’d like to admit. . But the results of a new study suggest that using dirty or expired beauty products will not only put you at risk for an occasional breakout. If you are not cleaning and replacing your makeup regularly, there may be hidden bacteria in your beauty stock that could make you sick, according to new research.

For the study, published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology, researchers at the University of Aston in the United Kingdom decided to discover the potential for bacterial contamination in five popular types of beauty products, including lipstick, gloss, eyeliner, eyeliner, mascara and blender. They tested the bacterial content of 467 used beauty products donated by participants in the UK. Researchers also asked those who donated makeup to complete a questionnaire about how often each product was used, how often the product was cleaned and whether the product was thrown on the floor. And even if the study sample size was admittedly small and limited to a specific region, the findings are enough for you to rub everything into your beauty arsenal as quickly as possible.

Overall, researchers estimated that about 90% of all products collected were contaminated with bacteria, including E. coli (best known for causing food poisoning), Staphylococcus aureus (which can cause pneumonia and other infections that, when untreated, can be fatal) and Citrobacter freundii (bacteria that can potentially cause urinary tract infections). When these types of bacteria reach areas such as the mouth, eyes, nose, or open cuts on the skin, they are “capable of causing significant infections,” especially those with compromised immune systems who may not be able to fight off the infection as easily ( think: older people, people with autoimmune diseases, etc.), wrote the study authors. (BTW, failing to clean your makeup can also leave you with hundreds of mites in your eyes.)

The most striking results of the study: Only 6.4% of all products collected have already been cleaned – hence the significant presence of bacteria found in donated products in general. The least frequently cleaned product was the blender sponge: a large number of 93% of samples were never disinfected and 64% of donated blenders were thrown on the floor – a particularly unhealthy practice (especially if you don’t clean them after the fact), according to the search. Knowing this, it is not surprising that these beauty sponge samples were also the most susceptible to bacterial contamination: as they are usually left moist after applying liquid-based products, beauty mixers can be easily filled with bacteria such as E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus, both of which can make you seriously ill, according to the study’s findings.

But what if I clean my beauty products on the reg?

Even if you are on top of cleaning up your makeup products and tools, you are not entirely clear. Sharing products with others can also increase your chances of getting in touch with harmful bacteria, according to the study results. Therefore, you not only want to clean any product before sharing it with someone (and kindly ask them to do the same before returning it to you), but you can also be cautious when trying out makeup testers at beauty shops. Although the researchers did not analyze bacteria on beauty counters, they noted in their article that these products “are not usually cleaned regularly and are exposed to the environment and to customers who are allowed to touch and try the product.”

The researchers also noted that product retention after expiration is a big no-no. Even if an expired lipstick or eyeliner looks good and goes smoothly, it may be contaminated with the same harmful bacteria found in unclean cosmetics, the study found.

As a general rule, most products should be launched within three months to a year, depending on the formula, the researchers wrote. Liquid eyeliner and mascara should be kept for a maximum of two to three months, while lipstick is generally safe for one year as long as you have had no infection, have shared it with anyone else who may have had an infection and who has it. cleaned regularly.

How to Clean Your Beauty Products

If this new research scares you, don’t panic – it’s not about products being contaminated when you buy them, but about your diligence in cleaning and replacing them as needed.

So, once a week, take time to clean your makeup bag, including applicators, brushes, tools and the bag itself, professional makeup artist Jo Levy told us earlier. She recommends using mild, unscented soap, baby shampoo or face wash to clean, then remove excess water before letting products dry completely before next use.

You should also make sure that your fingers are clean before applying any makeup (or opting for a clean cotton swab). “Every time you dip your finger in a jar of cream or base, you are introducing bacteria into it, contaminating it,” said Debra Jaliman, M.D., of Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York earlier. “The best thing to do is to clean products whenever possible, such as cleaning the tweezers and eyelashes with alcohol.”

As for solid products like lipstick, they can usually be wiped “so that you are removing the surface layer, which would remove bacteria or particles that are there,” “David Bank, MD, director of the Mount Kisco Dermatology Center New York City told us earlier, “It’s never too much to clean them once a week, but if you’re being careful and observant, you can stretch it to two or four weeks,” he added.

Finally, to keep your beloved blenders clean, use a specially designed sponge cleanser, facial cleanser or baby shampoo and be gentle so as not to tear or damage the sponge, Gita Bass, celebrity makeup artist and Simple Skincare Advisory. said in a previous interview: “Just rub the sponge over the soap to create a foam, rinse well, repeat as needed and put on a clean surface to dry.”

News Reporter

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