Skincare and Makeup Products Contamination

Skincare and Makeup Products Contamination

We all know hygiene is essential for our health. We wash our hands before eating and keep our fruit, veggies, and perishable items in the fridge. We are also cautious about cross-contamination in our kitchens. But what about skincare and makeup products? 

A two-year study by the Rowan University led by researcher Dr. Elizabeth Brooks looked into tester cosmetics found at department stores. The scientists studied samples from 20 cosmetics brands. They discovered the majority, if not all, were contaminated with dangerous bacteria. Brooks' team found over 67% of the samples had been contaminated with staph, strep, and E. coli, bacteria. Samples collected on Saturdays (when most department stores have the highest foot traffic) showed the highest contamination rate – 100%. This means every single bottle tested on a Saturday had been contaminated by bacteria. Another study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science conducted by two Brazilian universities found similar results. 79% of mascara samples tested showed high contamination by staph bacteria. 

Most cosmetic products use preservatives and rely on preservation techniques (e.g., special packaging) to minimize the growth of bacteria. However, your own hygienic habits might turn your favorite makeup products (or the inside of your cosmetics bag) into the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and harmful micro-organisms.

Cartoon image of a woman with acne

What happens if I use cross-contaminated products?

Dirt and debris from contaminated makeup can clog the pores, resulting in acne, blackheads, whiteheads, and cysts. At the very least, introducing micro-organisms to the skin can lead to inflammation, irritation, and a bumpy, red complexion. Suppose you happen to apply makeup or skincare in or around skin lesions or broken skin. In that case, the bacteria can enter your body and cause a nasty infection.

Eye makeup can be especially dangerous. Stored incorrectly, shared with two persons or more, or used when expired, mascara, eyeshadow, or eyeliner can become ripe with micro-organisms. Those micro things can cause eye inflammation or even viral infections such as viral conjunctivitis or pink eye. For that same reason, experts recommend never sharing makeup and avoiding using the tester bottles and tubes at department stores.

Using contaminated makeup has also been associated with premature skin aging. Poor makeup hygiene and the free radicals from dirt, debris, and pollutants can cause oxidative stress, possibly, leading to increased wrinkles and fine lines. 

 But how do bacteria end up in our precious cosmetics jar and tubes? 

Whenever you stick your fingers in a jar of cream or gel, you invite debris and bacteria from your skin into the product. And every time you apply makeup without washing your hands first, you're transferring more bacteria into the product and onto your skin. It's not just that our hands touch many things and many surfaces covered with germs. But, naturally, our skins and eyelashes harbor micro-organisms that are part of our bodies' microbiome. As soon as you apply that makeup brush to your skin or eyelashes, contamination happens.

Commonly, the most susceptible cosmetics products are those that require you to dip your fingers in the formula, as well as those coming in contact with open air. Micro-organisms can seep into the product from your fingers or the air around it when you repeatedly open that removable cap from the cream jar.

Instead of applying makeup with your fingers, use cosmetic tools. Make sure they're clean and properly sanitize the cosmetics tools you use regularly. Also, wash your hands before applying any makeup or skincare. Don't use any eye cosmetics with an eye infection or if the skin around the eyes is red.

On that note, blender sponges and sponge products have one of the lowest cleanliness ratings. A study conducted by Aston University in England found that makeup sponges boasted the highest rate of fungal contamination. Likely due to a mix of poor hygienic habits as well as the damp nature of sponges. You're actually better off using a special foundation brush than a blender sponge. But, if you really need to use sponges, make sure to clean them thoroughly with mild soap after each use and have them dry out in a clean environment, e.g., your bedroom dresser. Then store the dried sponges in a ventilated pouch.

Finger dipping in a cream jar

How, or rather where, you store your cosmetic products can make a world of a difference when it comes to hygiene too. You should avoid keeping your makeup and skincare in the bathroom as bacteria love the hot, humid post-shower environment. Also, make sure you never keep your makeup tools, brushes, and products close to the bathroom toilet. Bacteria are always lingering in the air with every flush away.

Cross-contamination isn't only a kitchen issue. Poor makeup and skincare hygiene can lead to bacteria overgrowth on your skincare and makeup products. In turn, this can cause skin problems such as acne, premature aging, deep cysts, and other skin problems. 

Do you want young, healthy, and radiant skin? We all do! Then follow these steps! Clean your hands before applying makeup. Regularly wash and sanitize your sponges and makeup brushes, and keep your makeup and skincare products in a safe environment. That is a dry, cool, and dark environment and away from the bathroom. If that's not feasible, consider keeping your products in a closed container in your bathroom (i.e., cabinet drawer or closed cosmetic storage box).

Trust us, your skin will thank you!

Uzza Lash is dedicated to providing you with products that are packaged specifically for hygienic applications.

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Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay
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