We’re all familiar with mold and fungus springing to life on clothes, shoes and the walls. But what about your favorite beauty products? It may sound like a scene from a horror film but picture this: You’re tired, its late and you drag yourself into the bathroom. Scoop up some of your night cream with grubby fingers and apply. You don’t realize it but you’ve just transferred millions of bacteria from your dirty fingers into the jar that multiply overnight. The next evening you apply this tainted cream all over your face and wake up to……
There are countless studies proving cosmetics are a breeding ground for dangerous bacteria that can cause minor to serious skin and eye infections from allergic breakouts and eye infections to worse. Not to scare you, but some of the bacteria found in cosmetics include:
- Staphylococcus Epidermidis: A form of staph bacteria found on lipsticks, eyeshadows and eyeliners during laboratory testing. Some strains of this bacteria are resistant to antibiotic treatment and can severely affect the intestines if left untreated.
- Pseudomonas Aeruginosa: Causes inflammation, rash and in severe cases, sepsis, a serious infection that can cause organ failure. It can thrive on mascara wands.
- Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus: One of most serious forms of bacteria, it lurks in old makeup and causes pink eye that can resist antibiotic treatment. It can enter a pimple, open cut or the mucous membranes of the eye and nose. In a study published by the International Journal of Cosmetic Sciences, two Brazilian universities tested 40 mascara samples from women and found that 79 percent were contaminated with staph.
- Escherichia Coli: This dangerous bacteria survives in the intestines of animals and humans. One study conducted on tester bottles in department stores found this growing in 100% of testers at department stores because—wait for it—people don’t wash their hands after using the restroom before trying them.
The moral of the story: Don’t touch your cosmetics. While there isn’t much you can do about testers in stores, in your own bathroom you can pretty much control what’s growing in your beauty products. As long as you’re following basic hygiene practices—washing your hands before and after applying cosmetics, keeping your nails clean, and closing jars after using them—you should be fine.
It’s also vital that you read cosmetic labels carefully and replace the product as directed. So even if you love that grey kajal and can’t find a new one anywhere, junk it when you need to. Specialist Dr. Dhimant Goleria adds that it’s also necessary to replace applicators frequently and use disposable makeup applicators.
“While herbal products may be gentler on skin, they typically contain fewer preservatives. Therefore, they have a shorter shelf life than regular products that contain parabens which are effective in keeping bacteria, fungus and yeast at bay.” Therefore, it’s important to junk herbal cosmetics when they expire, he warns.
It’s also a good idea to sterilize brushes, sponges and cloths after each use, and when in doubt, use the tiny spoon that comes with most skin formulas. Alternatively, buy products that come in tubes or airless pumps that prevent harmful bacteria—and your grubby fingers—from contaminating your favorites.
Finally, it very important that you abide by makeup expiration dates even if you’re in love with your mascara or lipstick. To know when to keep or toss your makeup faves, click here.