Out of date make-up can contain lethal bacteria, London Met scientist finds

Dr Paul Matewele found bacteria which causes neonatal meningitis and septicaemia on old foundation brushes, lip gloss and lipstick.
Date: 27/08/2015

Out-of-date make-up can carry a health risk according to tests conducted at London Metropolitan University.  

Dr Paul Matewele, senior lecturer in Biomedical Science at London Metropolitan University, tested five beauty products which were near or past their use-by-date from high street and designer brands.

Dr Matewele was sent beauty products from beauty bloggers across the UK which he tested under strict laboratory conditions at the University over three weeks. 

Alarming results

Dr Matewele said: “All the old make-up products of foundation, lip gloss and lipstick tested positive for Enterococcus faecalis under strict laboratory tests.

“Enterococcus faecalis is the potentially deadly strain of bacteria which causes meningitis and Septicaemia and is one of the biggest killers for newborn babies.”

The alarming results showed that products that were only a few months out-of-date can carry lethal bacteria. The lip gloss tested wasn’t past its use-by-date but still tested positive for the meningitis bug.

Rakesh Aggarwal CEO of Escentual.com who commissioned the research, said: “Most women are totally unaware that their cosmetics are a potential breeding ground for deadly bacteria.

“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need to take extra care after our findings showed that the deadly meningitis bacteria was found on several items of out of date make-up.”

Shocking findings

Grace Day, a beauty blogger from Manchester who sent the foundation in, was shocked. “I try to get my make-up in date, but I thought it wouldn’t matter if it was a few months over. Clearly I was wrong. Needless to say I will be throwing this out and other out of date make up in future.”

In total six different types of bacteria were found on the five types of everyday high-street cosmetics that were tested.

The other deadly bacteria which were found in the lab test included:

Eubacterium – which causes bacterial vaginosis

Aeromonas – one of the causes of gastroenteritis and wound infections

Staphlyoccocus epidermidis - a bug which is resistant to antibiotics and is deadly for people in hospital or who have catheters or surgical implants.

Propionibacterium - one of the main causes for acne and other skin conditions

Enterobacter – which causes urinary and respiratory tract infections mainly in hospitalised patients with compromised immune systems.

Find out more about Biomedical Science at London Met.