BIRMINGHAM, England — A new unsettling study is giving new meaning to the phrase “looks that kill.” Researchers from Aston University say that the overwhelming majority (more than nine in ten!) of currently in-use makeup products contain potentially life threatening superbugs like E.coli and Staphylococci.

Exposing one’s face or eyes to such contaminated cosmetics may result in serious skin infections or conjunctivitis. Furthermore, “beauty blenders,” or typically egg-shaped sponges used to apply makeup, were found to be among the most contaminated products, according to the study.

Researchers also say that so many mascara, lip gloss, and other beauty products are infected with superbugs because most users don’t take the time to clean their makeup goods at all. Also, it is very common for people to use these products well past their recommended expiration date.

Almost unbelievably, a large assortment of bacteria capable of causing illnesses, infections, and blood poisoning if they were to make contact with one’s eyes, mouth, or any cuts or openings in the skin, were detected in nine out of ten of tested makeup products. Individuals with weaker immune systems would be even more at risk if exposed to one of these dirty beauty products.

Regarding “beauty blenders,” a popular new beauty trend that is estimated to have sold over 6 million units worldwide, these products were found to have the highest concentration of harmful bacteria. In fact, 93% of the currently in-use beauty blenders tested by researchers turned out to have never been cleaned at all. Making matters worse, 64% of those blenders had been dropped on the floor on at least one occasion while being used.

The study’s authors also noted that beauty blenders are particularly susceptible to contamination because they are usually left damp after being used.

The research team say that both makeup manufacturers and government regulators should do more to protect consumers by more prominently displaying cleaning recommendations and instructions, as well as expiration dates.

This research was performed in the United Kingdom, which, at least for now, is still subject to EU regulations that ensure all new makeup products meet certain hygiene standards and expiration date requirements. However, in a post-Brexit scenario, researchers say U.K. consumers may be forced to purchase more make-up from the United States, which currently has zero regulatory rules requiring makeup manufacturers to place expiration dates on their products.

“Consumers’ poor hygiene practices when it comes to using makeup, especially beauty blenders, is very worrying when you consider that we found bacteria such as E.coli – which is linked with fecal contamination – breeding on the products we tested. More needs to be done to help educate consumers and the makeup industry as a whole about the need to wash beauty blenders regularly and dry them thoroughly, as well as the risks of using makeup beyond its expiry date,” comments researcher leader Dr. Amreen Bashir in a release.

The study is published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology.

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