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Superbugs Lurking Where You Might Not Expect

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published their first Antibiotic Resistance Threats Report in 2013, in which they estimated there were 2 million antibiotic-resistant infections, accounting for 23,000 deaths that year. In the recent 2019 report, the CDC estimates that 3 million people are infected with superbugs each year, resulting in 25,000 deaths. To put that into perspective, on average, someone in the U.S. is infected with an antibiotic-resistant bacterium every 11 seconds, resulting in a death every 15 minutes.

superbugs

The development of superbugs, resistant to two or more antibiotics, is linked to overly prescribed antibiotics, drug use in livestock production and exposure to herbicides. Superbugs are serious, and they’re lurking in places you probably wouldn’t think of. Case in point: your makeup bag.

According to a recent study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology, the majority of makeup products are contaminated with superbugs — many of which are life-threatening. Researchers found harmful bacteria in nine out of ten products tested, including beauty blenders, lip gloss and mascara. Of the products tested, 93% had never been cleaned, and 64% had been dropped on the floor at some point during use. Researchers say the contamination comes largely from consumers failing to clean their beauty products and from using them after their expiration date.

Beauty blenders, a popular makeup sponge often endorsed by celebrities, were found to be particularly susceptible to bacteria and contamination. Often left damp after use, the sponges become an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. Researchers found E. coli and Staphylococci on the makeup products.

Study leader Dr. Amreen Bashir said, “Consumers' poor hygiene practices when it comes to using make-up, especially beauty blenders, is very worrying when you consider that we found bacteria such as E.coli - which is linked with faecal contamination - breeding on the products we tested.”

She added, “More needs to be done to help educate consumers and the make-up industry as a whole about the need to wash beauty blenders regularly and dry them thoroughly, as well as the risks of using make-up beyond its expiry date.”