Make-up bags across Britain are rife with potentially deadly superbugs, scientists have claimed.
Research by Aston University found more than 90% of make-up products were carrying bacteria such as E. coli and Staphylococci, which can cause blood poisoning and infections.
The study has raised fears that people are unwittingly putting themselves at risk and its authors are urging manufacturers and regulatory bodies to do more to protect consumers.
The university has called on industry leaders to make expiry dates and cleaning requirements more prominent on packaging.
Beauty blenders, a popular type of foundation applicator, were revealed to have the highest levels of potentially harmful bacteria, with 93% never having been cleaned, despite more 64% of them being dropped on the floor at some point.
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After testing 467 products, scientists discovered that 77% of eyeliners, 72% of beauty blenders, 69% of mascaras, 56% of lipsticks and 55% of lip glosses carried the staphylococcus bacteria.
More than a quarter of beauty blenders and one in ten lip products were contaminated with E. coli.
"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,” said Dr Amreen Bashir, lead researcher at Aston University.
"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."
Beauty blenders have been singled out as they are said to be particularly susceptible to contamination.
The product is often left damp after use, which creates an ideal breeding ground for harmful bacteria.
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