Makeup Sanitation - A scientist holding a Petri Dish with Virus and bacteria cells.

Highlights of Makeup Sanitation Horror Stories in the News

We are noticing that stories of makeup sanitation horror stories are popping up in the news almost seemingly each week. Here are a few of them that we’ve collected and highlighted for you.

Woman Gets Bad Eye-Infection From Expired Makeup
Original Story via The Washington Post

A patient visited Sherber and Rad Dermatology center in Washington D.C. with an eye infection. The doctor learned that the patient had not purchased makeup products in quite a while after posing the question of how old her mascara and eyeliner was. People tend to forget that makeup products don’t have a very long shelf life and can become contaminated with awful microorganisms.

The problem is that preservatives in the makeup break down over time and it can later become susceptible to growing bacteria such as Staphylococci or E coli, that may cause skin irritation, or worse, infection. In respect to the shelf life — “That clock starts ticking when you begin to use the product,” Sherber said, adding that she frequently tells patients “makeup really shouldn’t celebrate a birthday.” 

Deadly Bugs Found in 9 out of 10 Makeup Bags
Original Story via

For the study, published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology, researchers from Aston University in the UK set out to discover the potential of bacterial contamination in five popular types of beauty products, including lipstick, lip gloss, eyeliners, mascaras, and beauty blenders. They tested the bacterial contents of 467 used beauty products donated by participants in the UK. Researchers also asked those who donated makeup to fill out a questionnaire about how often they used each product, how often the product was cleaned, and whether the product had been dropped on the floor. And even though the study’s sample size was admittedly small and limited to one specific region, the findings are enough to have you scrubbing everything in your beauty arsenal ASAP.

They found E coli and Staphylococci in used eyeliner and mascara. These bacteria can cause irritation and conjunctivitis (pink eye). Although the symptoms of conjunctivitis tend to be mild – itchy, watery eyes – in extreme cases it can lead to sight loss. And the germs causing conjunctivitis can spread to other parts of the body, which can trigger a more serious secondary infection.

The lipsticks and lip gloss in our sample contained Staphylococci and various bacteria associated with faecal matter. These bacteria could cause redness, swelling and inflammation of the lips, which can be treated with antibiotics or antibacterial creams. But if the germs spread to the blood or deeper tissues of the body, the infection can become life threatening.

Also, some strains of Staphylococci, such as Staphylococcus aureus, have become more resistant to antibiotics. S aureus is fairly contagious and can cause skin infections, including impetigo. The makeup products we examined (lipstick, lip gloss, eyeliners, mascaras and beauty blenders) had between 100 and 1,000 individual bacteria, except for beauty blenders which had an average of a million bacteria. As few as 100 cells of some bacteria can cause infection.

They found that these products are particularly susceptible to contamination as they are often left damp after use, which creates an ideal breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Most (93%) of the beauty blenders we tested had never been cleaned, despite two-thirds (64%) of those we surveyed admitting that they’d dropped them on the floor.

Woman Contracts Ocular Herpes From Makeup Artist Not using Disposables and Sues MAC Claiming Their Makeover Gave her ‘Agonizing’ Eye Infection
Original Story via the New York Post

Tammeka Hil allegedly received ocular herpes from a MAC employee who didn’t use a disposable applicator when applying makeup to her eye. “I went to M.A.C so they could make me feel beautiful and feel good about myself,” Tammeka Hill told The Post in an exclusive interview. “That one incident has caused a lifetime of devastation.” — The makeup artist did not use a disposable brush…she dipped into the M.A.C gel eyeliner container which had been used by and upon other people. About two days later, Hill’s eyes started getting so irritated that she had to take her contacts out and nine days after getting her makeup done Hill had to go to the emergency room because her right eye had gotten so bad. In the coming days after seeing multiple eye specialists Hill was diagnosed with ocular herpes — which is different than the sexually transmitted disease.

Woman contracts Ocular Herpes from Makeup Artist not using Disposables and sues MAC claiming their makeover gave her ‘agonizing’ eye infection.

Hill says she had the outbreak for two weeks but ever since she gets outbreaks every four to five weeks and each outbreak lasts for two weeks.

“I started getting lesions on my face — bursting and oozing. It disfigured my face,” she said. “Can you imagine as a woman looking in the mirror and seeing lesions?” Hill is suing M.A.C, parent company Estee Lauder and Macy’s for unspecified damages.

Test Shows What Nasty Bacteria are Lurking in your Makeup
Original Story via

PrettyLittleThing conducted a scientific petri dish experiment to reveal the bacteria comparison between products that are cleaned after every use versus ones that are rarely cleaned.

Microbiologist, Amy-May Pointer, analyzed the findings to reveal the horrifying truth.

Test Shows What Nasty Bacteria are Lurking in your Makeup
Makeup brush that is cleaned after every use (left),
makeup brush that is rarely cleaned (right)
Makeup sponge that is cleaned after every use (left),
makeup sponge that is rarely cleaned (right)
Eyeshadow that is cleaned after every use (left),
eyeshadow that is rarely cleaned (right)

Amy-May said:
“The growth on the makeup brush that is regularly cleaned has only one organism growth. This is fungus and may be part of the skin’s microbiota or due to the brush being stored in a dark, moist environment (makeup bag or damp cupboard) allowing fungus to accumulate in a short period of time in-between uses.

“It is evident to see the difference not washing the sponge has on the density of presumptive Staphylococcus epidermidis colonies found all over the plate (small white colonies). S. epidermis is found as part of the normal skin microbiota, but also has been found to contribute to the inflammation of acne.

“The same organisms from the swab of the eyeshadow cleaned after every use are all present on the shadow that is rarely washed, however in a higher density along with a variety of different bacterial and fungal species. Presumptive Escherichia coli and possible Candida albicans spp. is present alongside potential presumptive Klebsiella pneumoniae.


This all exemplifies the fact that it’s absolutely crucial that you learn proper sanitation techniques to both sanitize and disinfect your makeup to protect both you and your clients.

Here are some previous blog entries and Instagram Posts that help reinforce the idea!

The Impact of Covid-19 on the Makeup Industry
– Are Antibacterial & Antimicrobial Makeup Brushes Really Worth It?

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