| GEO Health|
| Health hazard lurks into lipsticks|
| Updated at: 0914 PST, Tuesday, April 27, 2010|
LONDON: Women are putting their health at risk by dabbing on lipstick, moisturiser and mascara from cosmetics tester packs at high street beauty counters.
In a shocking study, researchers found that every make-up tester pack they analysed was contaminated by the e.coli bug.
The two-year investigation found the highest levels of bacteria were present on Saturdays, the biggest shopping day of the week.
As well as e.coli - which causes stomach cramps and diarrhoea and, in severe cases, can be fatal - staphyloccus and streptococcus bacteria were found, which can cause infections.
Women could also be unknowingly passing on viruses such as herpes to fellow shoppers.
Dr Elizabeth Brooks, a biological sciences professor at Jefferson Medical College in Pennsylvania, who led the study, said: 'Wherever you can see e.coli, you should just think e.coli equals faeces.
'That means someone went to the bathroom, didn't wash their hands and then stuck their fingers in that moisturiser.'
Her research looked at department stores, specialist shops and chemists. The British beauty industry is big business, with cosmetics giant Avon estimating that women spend £1.1billion a month on products.
A make-up consultant at Selfridges in Birmingham said all brushes and applicators were washed after each use when customers test products.
The 33-year-old, who gave her name only as Nicki, said: 'We do get customers that come in and pick up the products like a lipstick and put it on.
'When we see someone do that we take it off the shelf right away.
'Every night we scrape off the top layers on the tester products as well.'
Experts advise using cotton swabs for testers and cleaning the surface with a tissue dipped in alcohol.
Dr Brooks added: 'If you're asking me if I would try a public lipstick tester - or if I would let my teenage daughters do that - the answer is No.'
The study follows separate research found that women are keeping their make-up for too long, allowing it to become contaminated with bacteria.
Beauty analyst Alexandra Richmond said: 'It is not simply a matter of products no longer performing... old make-up can be hazardous to our health.'