Behind the bristles: what's lurking under your cosmetic brushes?


    She was concerned why the Clean Brush #2 had a probable staphylococcus aureus which can cause a skin infection and had no answer to why a brand new, packaged brush would have that.

    It’s a tool that’s used by many that comes in all shapes and sizes.

    There’s sponges, power, blush, eye shadow and sever more that make up the variety of cosmetic brushes.

    The questions is what type of bacteria is lurking underneath the bristles?

    Siouxland News went to a microbiologist, Dr. Candice Coffin and she tested three dirty and two clean brushes for any bacteria.

    She tested the brushes on five different types of media.

    • MSA: Which is for the growth of staphylococcus
    • EMB: Which is for things such as E.coli.
    • Trypticase soy ager: Which is for general purpose.
    • Two types of blood ager plates: Which is for general purpose.

    Coffin swabbed the brushes into a saline solution then applied them on the petri dishes.

    She left three of the dishes out at room temperature and two incubated at 37 degrees because that’s the temperature of the human body for a whole week.

    The results:

    Dirty Brush #1:

    Dirty Brush #2

    • staphylococcus epidermidis: A bacterium that’s not harmful to the skin.
    • bacillus: A contaminant that’s not harmful to the skin.

    Dirty Brush #3

    • staphylococcus epidermidis: A bacterium that’s not harmful to the skin.
    • bacillus: A contaminant that’s not harmful to the skin.

    Clean Brush #1

    Clean Brush #2

    Dr. Coffin said she wasn’t surprised with the dirty brushes because the bacteria found on them are common.

    She was concerned why the Clean Brush #2 had a probable staphylococcus aureus which can cause a skin infection and had no answer to why a brand new, packaged brush would have that.

    "I can't explain that. It may have to do with the processing of it or the not exactly good hygiene in the manufacturing plant. I don't know," said biologist, Dr. Candice Coffin.

    We are not releasing the name of the company who manufactured the brush that had a possible trace of staphylococcus aureus.

    We have purchased the same brush from the same store and are currently testing those brushes to see if they will also have that same bacteria. We hope to have those results for you in a few weeks.

    Dermatologist Dr. Michelle Daffer said if you’re make up brushes are dirty there’s a chance that’s why people are having more breakouts from the make up or make up brushes bulging the pores.

    Siouxland News talked to a cosmetologist, Giselle Steever to learn how to properly clean your brushes.

    How to properly clean your brushes


    -It’s as easy as a bacterial soap, water and a towel.

    Steever said to not waste your money on a high end make up brush cleaner when Dawn Dish Soap will do the trick.

    -Swirling motion

    After applying soap onto your brush gently swirl it into your hand until all the product is out.

    -How do you know when it’s clean?

    When the water is clear and there’s no signs of make up in your brushes then it should be clean.

    -How do I dry my brushes?

    Steever said it’s important to have your bristles facing down so all the water can drain out. She said if the brushes are facing up water can drip into the metal container or where the bristles are pinched and it can loosen the adhesive glue. Dr. Daffer said if water gets into that area it can cause yeast or mold so to be careful with the water.

    -Is using a sponge okay?

    Steever said sponges are fine to use they’re just expensive and are hard to clean because the bacteria gets inside of the pores of the sponge. She recommends purchasing a large bag of disposable sponges.

    -Is it okay to leave brushes on the bathroom counter?

    Steever said if you’re storing your brushes on your bathroom counter to make sure they’re away from the toilet and to be mindful of what you’re placing next to them.

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