Old make-up found to contain meningitis bacteria

Escentual study finds deadly bacteria in expired products

Blusher, nine months out of date

Out of date make-up products have been found to contain unsafe levels of potentially harmful bacteria in a series of tests conducted at the London Metropolitan University.

In a study commissioned by beauty retailer Escentual, the university tested five products sent in by UK beauty consumers. Four out of these tested positive for Enterococcus faecalis – a strain of bacteria known to cause meningitis and septicaemia.

The university tested a four months out of date foundation, a still in date lip gloss, a nine months out of date blusher, a ten months out of date lipstick, and a four months out of date mascara.

As well as Enterococcus faecalis, the products tested positive for Staphyloccocus epidermis – known to be resistant to antibiotics; Eubacterium – which can cause bacterial vaginosis; Aeromonas – known to cause gastroenteritis and wound infections, and Propionibacterium avidum, a key suspect in the development of acne.

Bacteria growing in several types of cosmetics products

Paul Matewele, a microbiologist at the London Metropolitan University, said: "The foundation, lip gloss and lipstick all tested positive for Enterococcus faecalis under strict laboratory tests. Enterococcus faecalis is the potentially deadly strain of bacteria which causes meningitis and septicaema and is one of the biggest killers for newborn babies."

Rakesh Aggarwal, CEO of Escentual, said: "Most women are totally unaware that their cosmetics are a potential breeding ground for deadly bacteria. But if you think about it you wouldn't keep food for months after the use-by date, so why would this be acceptable for cosmetics?"

Ella Buchan, a beauty and lifestyle journalist who submitted her lipstick for testing, commented on the results: "I don't wear lipstick everyday, so some of the ones I own are pretty old. But I never imagined there could be anything that bad lurking in the tube. My make-up bag might be due a clear out."

Aggarwal added: "This research has even surprised us and has shown that there is a serious health risk here. Pregnant women or mums with small babies need to take extra care after our finding showed that the deadly meningitis bacteria was found on several items of out of date make-up."

Escentual is now holding a make-up amnesty for consumers still using expired beauty products. Those who Tweet or Instagram evidence of themselves clearing out old products will be offered a £5 voucher towards at £20 at escentual.com.

Companies