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Researchers find ‘superbugs’ in most used makeup – including on sponges

December 19, 2019

Birmingham, England — Your older, used makeup could make you sick, researchers are warning after a recent study of used beauty products showed up to 90% were contaminated with potentially dangerous “superbug” germs.

Researchers from Aston University performed bacteria culture tests on donated used cosmetic products such as lipstick, eyeliner and mascara. They found that a vast majority of the products (79% to 90%) were contaminated with bacteria, including strains of E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus.

These bacteria can cause illnesses ranging from skin infections to blood poisoning if the products are used near eyes, the mouth or skin wounds, a university press release states.

The release adds that the study is the first to look at “beauty blenders,” or sponges used to apply foundation. These products had the highest levels of potentially dangerous bacteria, as most (93%) were never cleaned despite the fact 64% were dropped on the floor at some point during their use.

“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 [expiration] date,” study author Amreen Bashir, a lecturer in biomedical sciences at the university, said.

The study was published online Oct. 9 in the Journal of Applied Microbiology.