How to keep your makeup free from bacteria

Most people who wear makeup assume that as long as they remove the makeup properly when they get back home, it’s not really doing much harm. They are wrong.

Myupchar December 04, 2019 16:05:39 IST
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How to keep your makeup free from bacteria

Many of us use at least a little bit of makeup on a daily basis. It’s a part of our routine now before we head out of the house. And most people who wear makeup assume that as long as we remove the makeup properly when they get back home, it’s not really doing much harm.

Well, they might want to rethink that. 

How to keep your makeup free from bacteria

Representational image. Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay.

A recent study, published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology, aimed to find out just how contaminated used makeup products are. They studied five extremely common cosmetic products - eyeliners, lipsticks, lip glosses, mascaras and beauty blenders and found the presence of pathogenic organisms that pose health risks. 

Makeup under the microscope

The study used a total of 467 donated (used) beauty products to test for the presence of microbes including bacteria and fungi. It was found that 79-90% of all the products were contaminated with bacteria including S. aureusE. coli and Citrobacter freundii which could have been introduced through bad hand hygiene practices.

The beauty blender fared the worst - it contained a bacterial load of over 106 CFU per ml. Fungal contamination was also the highest at 57%. A staggering 93% of beauty blenders had never been cleaned during the period of use and 64% had even been dropped on the floor and not cleaned after that. Perhaps because it is a comparatively newer cosmetic product. Which probably explains why many people are unaware of how to care for it properly and there aren’t any strict guidelines around their care.

CFU is colony-forming units; a common measure to track the growth of microorganisms like bacteria and fungi that grow in colonies.

The other products tested weren’t too far behind though, with bacterial loads ranging between 102 and 103 CFU per ml. Only about 6.4% of all the products had been cleaned and more than a quarter of them had been dropped on the floor and then been used. Lip glosses fared the worst when it came to checking for Enterobacteriaceae load. 

According to the data collected, along with the products, there was no correlation between the duration of use and contamination levels.

What can you do to keep your makeup safe? 

  • There is no 5-second rule when it comes to makeup. If you dropped it, you either need to clean it (in the case of applicators) or throw it away (if it was a product spill). 
  • Wash your makeup applicators regularly and thoroughly with a good cleaner. Replace them every few months in addition to cleaning them regularly. 
  • Your makeup has an expiry date. Don’t disregard it - actually, play on the side of caution and stop using the product when you get close to the expiry date. 
  • Don’t share your makeup as it can promote the transfer of bacteria from one person to another. It won’t make you a bad friend, just a hygienic one. 
  • If you’re getting makeup done at the salon, carry your own makeup and applicators or ask them to use disposable ones.  
  • Water-based products (like some lip-glosses) are more likely to promote bacteria growth. If this is a huge concern for you, buy products that aren’t water-based.
  • Clean your makeup bag regularly. Your sponges, brushes, etc., can leave bacteria in there to grow and spread onto other things.
  • Always, always wash your hands before and after you apply your makeup. 
  • Store your makeup in a drawer and not in the bathroom or in the open. Also, avoid using your makeup in the bathroom no matter how convenient it may be.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. For more information on a possible complication from using expired or bad makeup, please read our article on Conjunctivitis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention.

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