Beauty

A study has revealed which superbugs could be lurking in your make-up bag

Posted by
Lucy Partington
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In disconcerting news, illness-causing bacteria like E.coli and staphylococci have been found in more than 9 out of 10 make-up bags. 

Deep down, you all know how important it is regularly clean your make-up brushes and sponges.

Much like the importance of wearing a coat in winter and looking both ways before you cross a road, it’s something that’s drilled into us all from a young age (probably).

But, despite the fact everybody should spend a Sunday afternoon shampooing those beloved tools, it’s a chore that the majority of us put off more often than we should, right? 

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Well, if the Stylist office is anything to go by then, yes – that is right. A quick straw poll done via email came back with just one person who cleans their brushes every month. Everybody else who replied said it was something that just didn’t ever happen (and that includes two people on the beauty team).

That said, things are probably set to change thanks to the results of new research conducted by Aston University in Birmingham. The study, published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology, found that – prepare yourselves – the majority of ‘in-use make-up products, such as beauty blenders, mascara and lip gloss are contaminated with potentially life-threatening superbugs.’

That includes things like E.coli, a sickness bug, and Staphylococci, which can cause skin infections and conjunctivitis. 

While the study looked at out-of-date make-up, the highest levels of bacteria were found on foundation sponges, with 93% not having ever been cleaned, despite the fact that 64% have been dropped on the floor at some point during use. Researchers also found that sponges are mostly susceptible to contamination because they’re often left damp after use, creating an ideal breeding ground for harmful bacteria.

Dr Amreen Bashir, who led the study alongside Professor Peter Lambert, said, “Consumers’ poor hygiene practices when it comes to using make-up is very worrying when you consider that we found bacteria such as E.coli breeding on the products tested.”

“More needs to be done to help educate both consumers and the make-up industry as a whole about the need to wash [foundation sponges] regularly and dry them thoroughly,” he added.

So if this news doesn’t give you the motivation you need to spend the Christmas break cleaning your tools (or maybe, like us, you’ll choose the lazy option and add new ones to your ever-growing list) as well as throwing away any out of date make-up, we don’t know what will.

Godspeed to us all.

Want make-up tips, skincare advice and more? Sign up for the Stylist Loves Beauty email

Main image: Getty

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Lucy Partington

Lucy Partington is Stylist’s beauty editor. She’s obsessed with all things skincare, collecting eyeshadow palettes that she’ll probably never use, and is constantly on the hunt for the ultimate glowy foundation.

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