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It’s time to ditch your old makeup — before it makes you ill

If there’s a chance you have things lurking at the bottom of your makeup bag that haven’t seen daylight for several months it could be time to say goodbye.

It’s the sort of thing most of us put off but, if you need a pressing reason to chuck ancient mascara, here it is. Scientists at London Metropolitan University carried out tests commissioned by online beauty company on five makeup products: blusher, foundation, lip gloss, lipstick and mascara.

The results were published in the Daily Mail and they’re pretty shocking. All the out-of-date makeup contained unsafe levels of potentially lethal bacteria, including enterococcus faecalis, which is the main cause of meningitis and kills more children under five than any other bug in the U.K.

Other bacteria often found lingering on old makeup include eubacterium, which causes bacterial vaginosis, and aeromonas, one of the causes of gastroenteritis and wound infections.

The scientists also found staphylococcus epidermidis, a nasty bug which is resistant to antibiotics; propionibacterium, one of the main triggers for acne and other skin conditions, and enterobacter, which causes urinary and respiratory tract infections.

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The tests involved several high-street beauty products sent in by women and beauty bloggers from across the U.K. and some of the products weren’t even past their official expiry date.

“Most women are totally unaware that their cosmetics are a potentially (sic) breeding ground for deadly bacteria,” said CEO of, Rakesh Aggarwal. “But if you think about it you wouldn’t keep food for months after the use by date so why should this be acceptable for cosmetics. 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finding (sic) showed that the deadly meningitis bacteria Enterococcus Faecalis/Faecium was found on several items of out of date make-up,” added Aggarwal.

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The tests revealed that a nine month out-of-date blusher had the largest amount of bacteria and a mascara four months out-of-date had the second largest amount. The third largest amount of bacteria was found on a lip gloss that was over a year old but still in date, possibly because lip products are applied to the mouth where a lot of bacteria live.

In light of the test results, are holding a #MakeupAmnesty until Sept. 11 to encourage more people to ditch their old makeup, detox their makeup bags and throw away their past-it products. To take part film a short video of yourself getting rid of your expired makeup and post it on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter with the tags @Escentual and #MakeupAmnesty. Every entry will receive a £5 voucher to be redeemed against any spend of £20 or more at and the person with the video judged to be the most creative will win their favourite beauty product.

Besides checking the expiration date on the packaging of your makeup (and this goes for skincare products too), use the following to decide whether you should hold on to something:

  • When did you buy the product? If it was so long ago that you can’t remember it’s a sign.
  • What is the condition of the product? If it’s old/crumbling/separated/smells bad it’s time to go.
  • Why are you holding on to it? Is there a reason you can’t let it go?

Right, I’m off to delve into my makeup bag. Wish me luck…

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