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Your Daily Makeup Products May Contain Deadly Superbugs, Study Claims

India has a yearly growth of 15 to 20 per cent in the users of makeup and cosmetic products, hinting at a large number of people who use the product on a daily basis. Reports point out that out of the 274 billion, 4.6 billion comes from the Indian continent, indicating the rapid growth of users in the country.

Along with demand, came supply. From organic products to premium products, cosmetics help you look presentable, even on your worst day. That boost of confidence it gives you is undeniable. However, did you know that the makeup products you use, such as mascara, compact, lipstick, are all breeding grounds for superbugs? Well, a recent study states so.

Read on to know more about it.

So, What Are Superbugs?

It is a term used to describe strains of bacteria that are resistant to the majority of antibiotics available today. Antibiotic resistance is a naturally occurring phenomenon that can be slowed down, but not stopped. That is, with time, the bacteria adapt to the antibiotics, making standard treatments for bacterial infections less effective, and in some cases, ineffective [1] .

Having poor hygiene, living in unsanitary conditions, mishandling food and using and misusing antibiotics are deemed to be the common factors that may accelerate the emergence and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria [2] . Some of the most common superbugs that can affect your health are shown below.

Now, let's read about how these superbugs get into your makeup and potentially affect your health.

From Beauty Blenders To Lip Gloss, The Superbugs Are Everywhere

According to the study conducted by researchers at Aston University, make-up products, like beauty blenders and mascara are breeding grounds for deadly superbugs. To understand the link between beauty products and superbugs, the researchers tested popular make-up products that were donated for the purposes of the study [3] .

Published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology, the products tested in the study were used ones and were categorised into five groups, beauty blenders, mascara, lip gloss, eyeliner, and lipstick; and tested or various strains of bacteria.

The results revealed that 90 per cent of all products donated for the study had been contaminated. The researchers detected traces of E.coli, the bacteria known to cause staph infections, and Citrobacter freundii.

Beauty Blenders: The Biggest Culprits

Upon examining the different types of makeup products, the researchers were able to gather the understanding that beauty blenders were the biggest culprits of such bacteria. These widely popular make-up sponges are used to blend foundation and contouring on the face [4] .

The researchers say these products are susceptible to new bacteria as they're often left damp after each use. It was also pointed out that, over 60 per cent of the users reported using beauty blender after dropping it on the floor, while over 90 per cent never cleaned these products.

Amplifies Risk In Individuals With A Weak Immune System

The lack of hygiene and regular cleaning of these products contribute to the development of bacteria, which can cause illnesses ranging from skin infections to blood poisoning if used near eyes, mouth or cuts or grazes [5] .

These risks are increasingly prone to affect individuals with a weak immune system, as they are easy for the bacteria to find a host in.

The Study Stressed On The Importance Of Hygiene And Awareness

"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.......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 one of the researchers [6] .

The study stresses the importance of spreading awareness amongst consumers regarding the possible side effects of unhygienic makeup habits.

On A Final Note...

Using makeup can boost your confidence or simply make your love your reflection in the mirror. While decking yourself up, it is critical that you consider the plausible side effects lack of hygiene can have on your body.

With most of the customers unwillingly putting themselves at the risk of various infections and diseases caused by the superbugs, it is critical that manufacturers and regulatory bodies put forth steps such as expiry dates and cleaning requirements on the packaging of the products.

"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," asserted the head researcher [7] .

View Article References
  1. [1] Bowden, F. (2017). How common are superbugs in Australia, and what do we do when the antibiotics don't work?.
  2. [2] Schilling, R. (2018). Phage Therapy Against Superbugs.
  3. [3] Bashir, A., & Lambert, P. (2019). Microbiological study of used cosmetic products: highlighting possible impact on consumer health. Journal of applied microbiology.
  4. [4] Di Maiuta, N., & Schwarzentruber, P. (2011). Molecular detection of bacteria in calcium carbonate powder used in cosmetic formulations. International journal of cosmetic science, 33(5), 426-431.
  5. [5] Onurdağ, F. K., Özgen, S., & Abbasoğlu, D. (2010). Microbiological investigation of used cosmetic samples. Hacettepe Uni J Faculty Pharm, 30, 1-16.
  6. [6] Behravan, J., Bazzaz, F., & Malaekeh, P. (2005). Survey of bacteriological contamination of cosmetic creams in Iran (2000). International journal of dermatology, 44(6), 482-485.
  7. [7] Hamza, H., Saeed, E. N., & Razooki, R. A. (2009). A study on cosmetic products marketed in Iraq: Microbiological aspect. Iraqi Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 18(2), 20-25.
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