Microbiological Safety of Cosmetics

Cosmetics can become harmful to consumers if they’re contaminated with harmful microorganisms, such as certain bacteria and fungi. Hence, the microbiological safety of cosmetics has to be closely examined.

Cosmetic Safety Law

Under the law, cosmetic products and ingredients, except for colour additives, do not need approval before they go on the market. However, they must not be “adulterated” or “misbranded.”

This means they must be safe for consumers when used according to directions on the label, or in the customary or expected way, and they must be properly labelled. It also means they must not be prepared, packed, or stored in a way in which they may have become contaminated or harmful to health.

Companies and individuals who manufacture or distribute cosmetics are legally responsible for the safety of their products. This includes, for example, making sure cosmetics are free of harmful microorganisms.

The safety of cosmetics has to be monitored, including their microbiological safety, and action can be taken against cosmetics on the market that don’t comply with the law.

Contamination by Micro-organisms

Cosmetic firms are legally responsible for making sure their products are safe. Some of the ways cosmetics may become contaminated with bacteria or fungi are:

  • Contaminated raw materials, water or other ingredients
  • Poor manufacturing conditions
  • Ingredients that  encourage growth of microorganisms, without an effective preservative system
  • Packaging that doesn’t protect a product adequately
  • Poor shipping or storage conditions
  • Consumer use, such as the need to dip fingers into the product

Quality Control

All actions have to be based on reliable information and knowledge has to reflect the current state of science, industry practice, and products on the market.

Even if injuries from contaminated cosmetics are not common, they can be serious. For example, contaminated tattoo inks, eye-area cosmetics, and lotions and mouthwashes used in hospitals all have caused serious infections.

Here are some of the areas microbiologists must explore:

  • The best way to test cosmetics for microbiological safety
  • Types of preservative systems used, and their efficacy
  • Microorganisms strains posing health risks in cosmetics
  • Human exposure to microorganisms in cosmetics
  • Greatest risks from certain types of contaminated cosmetics

Consumer precautions against Microbial Contamination

  • Not sharing cosmetics, with any person to avoid sharing germs
  • Not adding water or saliva to cosmetics, such as mascara, which can add bacteria or other microorganisms or which can water down a preservative intended to keep bacteria from growing
  • Storing cosmetics carefully, avoiding warm places, where some microorganisms may grow faster and preservatives may break down
  • Keeping containers clean
  • Washing hands before applying cosmetics, especially if needed to dip fingers into the container
  • Paying attention to recalls and safety alerts, as microbial contamination is a common reason for recalls of cosmetics