Wednesday, September 25, 2013Scientific publications

Mascara: expired, contaminated ... but still in-service!


A Brazilian study surveyed female students, examining their habits about make-up. Conclusion: women tend to continue using expired make-up, and these products are often contaminated by high levels of harmful micro-organisms! Without doubt, what is true in Brazil is likely to be true here, too …

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This study investigated the habits of female students regarding make-up use, and quantifies the microbiological contamination of mascaras worn by this population.


To this end, 44 students answered a structured questionnaire to evaluate the use of expired make-up, shared usage and reports of adverse effects. Subsequently, make-up samples were collected to check the manufacturing registration and the expiration date and its visibility on the label. The total counts of microorganisms and identification of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus in mascara samples collected were performed as described in the Brazilian Pharmacopea (4th edition)


According to the results obtained, 97.9 % (43/44) of participants reported that they use or have previously used make-up after the expiration date, with mascara being the most frequently mentioned product. It was observed that on the sample collection date, 70.5% (31/44) of the students had some type of expired make-up. The microbiological analysis of 40 mascara samples revealed 2.54 ± 1.76 10⁴ UFC mL⁻¹ bacteria and 2.55 ± 1.54 10⁴ UFC mL⁻¹ fungi. Analysis revealed the presence of S. aureus in 79% of samples and of P. aeruginosa in 13%.


The results are interesting because they show that women tend to continue to use make-up beyond the expiry date. Frequently, these products have a high level of contamination with pathogenic microorganisms.

For further information
• This study is published in the International  Journal of Cosmetic Science, Volume 35, Number 4, August 2013.
• It is also available on the Wiley Online Library Internet website.

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