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The Harmful Germs Hiding In Your Makeup Bag

Study shows 90% of makeup bags contaminated with bacteria.

We have all become hyper-aware of how easily germs and bacteria can spread, and increasingly focused on wiping down surfaces and washing our hands in order to keep ourselves and our families safe and healthy. One place we're often forgetting about, though? Our makeup bag. A recent study shows this can cause a lot more than the occasional breakout: Bacteria hiding in our makeup bags could be making us sick.


What’s In Your Makeup Bag? Bacteria, Germs & More…

 In a recent study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology, researchers from Aston University in the UK investigated the potential bacterial contamination in popular beauty products including lipstick, lip gloss, eyeliners, mascaras and beauty blender sponges.  They tested the bacteria contents of 467 beauty products donated by participants, and participants answered questions about how often they used each products, how often each beauty product was cleaned, and whether the product had been dropped on the floor.

The results from the study were horrifying : Researchers estimated that about 90 percent of all the products were contaminated with bacteria. While COVID-19 is too recent to have been included in this study (the study was published in Dec 2019), what they did find is scary enough on its own. They found E. coli,Staphylococcus aureus(which can cause pneumonia and other infections that, when untreated, may be fatal), andCitrobacter freundii (bacteria that can potentially cause urinary tract infections). 

Given where we apply makeup, bacteria and other germs can easily find their way into our mouth, eyes, nose, where they’re "capable of causing significant infections," particularly in those with compromised immune systems, the Aston University researchers noted. 

Another shocking finding? Only 6.4 percent of all products collected had everbeen cleaned. The biggest culprit was the beauty blender sponge93 percent had never been disinfected and 64 percent had been dropped on the floor. That’s a lot of risk for something we use on our faces every day.

Researchers also noted that even if you clean them regularly, products kept past their expiration dates can harbor the same harmful bacteria as beauty products that had neverbeen cleaned. As a general rule, the researchers advised that most products should be tossed between three months to a year, and if you ask the beauty brands themselves, they will tell you the shelf life is shorter (or slightly longer) depending on how and where you store them.

Silver Reflective Makeup Bags and Organizers on a white shelf

Keep It Clean: Protecting Your Beauty Products from COVID-19 & Other Germs

So, what do the experts advise on how to keep your makeup bag COVID-19-proof and other harmful germs at bay? As Dr. Beth Ricanati tells The Huffington Post,it all starts with a clean beauty bag.
  • Regularly cleaning your skincare bottles and lipstick tubes is pointless if you don’t have a clean surface to put them back into. Make sure the bag is thoroughly clean and wipe it down with antibacterial wipes or alcohol.
  • To truly get fabric or nylon makeup bags clean, toss them in the washing machine and make sure they are completely drybefore placing your newly cleaned beauty products inside. You can't sanitize them by wiping down with alcohol because the materials are porous.
  • Ideally, you want to use a makeup bag made of non-porous materials (like ourPerformance Beauty Bag). They are much more sanitary and easy to keep clean compared to leather, nylon or fabric options, which can be the optimal breeding ground for bacteria.




Reference:Bashir, A., & Lambert, P. (2019). Microbiological study of used cosmetic products: highlighting possible impact on consumer healthJournal of Applied Microbiology

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