JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Whether you wear a little to enhance your features or like an extra glam look, makeup has its place in most women's daily beauty routines.
There are a wide variety of tools available to women to help them achieve similar results to what a makeup artist may produce.
Day after day women dip their brushes and sponges into products and back onto their skin repeatedly, not thinking about the last time those tools were cleaned or what could be lurking in them.
As I found out, there could be some pretty gross stuff harboring in those tools and on your face.
I met with Dorcee Lewis and Arica Davis who both agreed to let me take their most used makeup brushes and have them tested for bacteria in a lab.
Lewis said she has about 5 brushes she uses when she applies her everyday face, which she says she does about 4 times a week.
One of those brushes she's had since 2009.
"As long as you wash them and take care of them, then they'll last a while," Lewis said. "I clean mine once a month. If they are for your own personal use, then I would say once a month would probably be fine."
Lewis said she was scared about what might come up in her test results.
"You never know what's on there," Lewis said. "I figured there would be a few bacteria because of course you can't get it absolutely clean but hopefully not too much."
I then met with our second test subject Arica Davis who gave us the brushes she uses to apply her eye makeup.
Davis said she wears makeup just about every day except when she's getting a sweat session in at the gym.
Davis said she tries to replace them every six months.
"This is kind of new to me as far as the diversity of the brushes," Davis said. "It's all starting to come together now that I'm older, keeping them clean, not using the same brush for everything."
When we asked Davis about how often she cleaned them…
"I'm guilty," Davis said. "I don't wash them as much as I should but maybe once a month. I have really bad eczema so keeping them clean is a must."
Davis was also nervous about handing her brushes over.
"You never know what you could find especially with all the bacterial things going on now days," Davis said. "I don't know if I'll ever be able to look at a makeup brush the same way again! I'll probably start buying new ones all the time."
I decided to throw in a brush and sponge that are a regular part of my makeup routine as well as Craig Rickert's makeup sponge to be tested for bacteria.
I took the tools to A-State Biology Professor Dr. Julie Huggins to find out what kind of bacteria was hidden in the brushes.
Dr. Huggins explained what she used to test each of the brushes for bacteria.
She used an EMB petri dish which picks up any coliform bacteria which is found in fecal matter, a mannitol salt agar petri dish to grow staphylococcus aureus and a nutrient agar petri dish which can grow anything.
Huggins used a sterile swab to gather bacteria from the brushes before swabbing it across each of the petri dishes.
"I would expect there to be normal bacteria from the skin," Huggins said. "I expect there to be more on the sponge because it tends to be more thorough on your skin."
The dishes were then put into an incubator to grow whatever bacteria was collected on them for 24 hours.
The next day, we met up with Dr. Huggins again to discuss the test results.
"It looks like the normal bacteria we have on our skin called normal flora, it would be staphylococcus epidermidis and micrococcous luteus, the mannitol salt plate didn't turn yellow so that means nobody had staphylococcus aureus on them and that's a good thing and the EMb plates did not get any growth so that would indicate that no one has come in contact with fecal material on their brushes which is also a good thing."
Dr. Huggins said having staphylococcus aureus on the skin usually is not a problem unless there's an open wound.
"If you have a cut, a pimple or something like that, it would allow the staphylococcus aureus to get inside and when it gets into your bloodstream it can cause major problems. "If you have an open wound and you use someone's brush who has staph then it's possible it could get into yours."
Huggins said that's why you should never share your brushes with anyone.
Dr. Huggins explained how getting e.coli in your brushes is as simple as letting them dry near a toilet.
"When you flush, sometimes the spray will come up and we've all been told not to leave toothbrushes near the potty, same thing with your makeup brushes. "
After we got the results, we met back up with Dorcee Lewis and Arica Davis, our test subjects, to let them know what we found out.
Dorcee was happy her brushes came back clear but she was concerned about the possibility of things like e.coli and MRSA showing up on brushes.
"It may not be on my brushes but it could be on someone else's," Lewis said. "There are so many people doing makeup for other people to make sure that brush hygiene is very important because they could give that to somebody else. Not just people who do makeup, it's everyday people"
Dorcee said she planned to tweak her brush cleaning routine after learning about how her clean brush had more bacteria than her dirty brush.
"I usually dry them in my bathroom," Dorcee said. "Walking away from this, I'll probably dry my brushes on my vanity set instead of in the bathroom, hopefully that will cut down some of the bacteria."
We then met with Arica Davis who said she was anxious about the whole thing but relieved her results are good.
"I realized that I probably don't clean my brushes as much as I should," Davis said. "I've been going back and forth with different people in my family about being nervous and I think my boyfriend tried to was like they're probably going to find fecal matter!"
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