A lipstick with cranberry extract added can help cosmetics fight viruses

VALENCIA, Spain — Lipstick is a bold fashion statement for many but sharing them with friends can exchange bacteria. With this in mind, researchers have added cranberry extract to lipstick in order to spread its antimicrobial effects when encountering viruses, bacteria, and fungi.

Using makeup first dates back to Ancient Egypt, where people would apply various pastes made from minerals and other substances found in their environment. Clearly, we’ve evolved over the many centuries and created an expansive world of cosmetics, with options that are truly endless. Unfortunately, it turns out that many conventional household and beauty products contain harmful chemicals. A recent study found that lipstick is one of many products that contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals that can trigger changes in hormone function and even lead to breast cancer.

Researchers are now looking to turn back to more natural roots, figuring out ways to at least reduce chances of microbial harm. Recent studies so far have reported that lipstick formulas that incorporate natural coloring agents, such as red dragon fruit, will still have a vibrant red color yet also antimicrobial benefits. Additionally, cranberry extract specifically has demonstrated the ability to deactivate harmful microbes.

Could a new lipstick also keep you healthy?
Adding cranberry extract to a lipstick cream allowed it to fight off viruses, bacteria and a type of fungus. CREDIT: Adapted from ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 2022, DOI: 10.1021/acsami.2c19460

The lipstick can kill germs in less than a minute

In light of these previous findings, Ángel Serrano-Aroca and team wanted to further explore the use of cranberry extract for creating a deep red lipstick tint while also being able to make the final product protective against harmful germs. To do this, the team mixed cranberry extract into a lipstick cream base made of shea butter, vitamin E, provitamin B5, babassu oil and avocado oil.

They added the mixture to cultures with different viruses, bacteria, and one fungal species. Both virus variations were quickly deactivated. In fact, the lipstick block microbes within one minute of contact. Even the multi-drug-resistant bacteria, mycobacteria, and fungus were significantly weakened and deactivated within five hours of application.

Their findings suggest that their novel formula may have a place on the market as a protective product against microorganisms. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria continues to become a public health treat, and alongside the COVID-19 pandemic, the race to mitigate disease spread is more dire than ever before.

The team hopes that their work contributes positively toward heightened existing efforts to limit the spread of germs as much as possible. In the future, they hope more studies can explore the use of natural antimicrobial agents in cosmetics and get new products on the market. If so, it may soon be possible for people to share lipstick on a night out again!

The findings appear in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.

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