Volume 128, Issue 2 p. 598-605
Original Article

Microbiological study of used cosmetic products: highlighting possible impact on consumer health

A. Bashir

Corresponding Author

A. Bashir

School of Life and Health Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham, UK

Correspondence

Amreen Bashir, School of Life and Health Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham, UK.

E-mail: [email protected]

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P. Lambert

P. Lambert

School of Life and Health Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham, UK

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First published: 09 October 2019
Citations: 19

Abstract

Aims

To investigate the nature and extent of microbial contamination in five categories of used cosmetic products (lipstick, lip gloss, eyeliners, mascaras and beauty blenders) and highlight the potential risk posed to consumers in the UK.

Methods and Results

Used products were donated and microbial contents were determined by microbial culture and identification. About 79–90% of all used products were contaminated with bacteria, with bacterial loads ranging between 102 and 103 CFU per ml, beauty blenders contained an average load of >106 CFU per ml. Presence of Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli and Citrobacter freundii was detected. Enterobacteriaceae and fungi were detected in all product types, and were prevalent in beauty blenders (26·58 and 56·96% respectively). Ninety-three per cent of beauty blenders had not been cleaned and 64% had been dropped on the floor and continued to be used.

Conclusions

Significant levels of microbial contamination occur during use of cosmetic products and presence of pathogenic organisms pose a potential risk to health.

Significance and Impact of the Study

The nature and high level of contamination in used cosmetic products indicate that greater user awareness and education are required. Manufacturers should ensure that product expiry dates are prominently displayed and consumers can identify the symbols used on product packaging.

Conflict of Interest

The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.