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How all that old makeup in your bag may be making you sick

A new survey finds that one in five women keep their makeup well past its expiration date, which can lead to bacteria that causes serious illness.
/ Source: TODAY

Women clinging to that old tube of lipstick or bottle of mascara may be turning their makeup bags into a petri dish for bacteria that can cause serious illness.

A new survey found that one in five women hoard their makeup past the recommended expiration date, and doing so could put you at risk considering that old mascara or cleanser can cause everything from urine infections to meningitis.

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In a survey of 5,000 women across the U.K. conducted by beauty company LiB Group, 20 percent of the women surveyed admitted to holding on to their makeup for more than five years and keeping their cleanser for a year instead of disposing it after six months as recommended.

RELATED: Germs lurking in old makeup: It isn't pretty

A quarter of the women surveyed said they keep their mascara for a year instead of the recommended three months.

TODAY's Savannah Guthrie, Natalie Morales, Hoda Kotb and Tamron Hall admitted to having slipped up occasionally by keeping their makeup past its expiration date, including Kotb's bag of foundation that appeared to be from the 1990s.

Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb

Hoarding makeup past its recommended expiration date can leave women open to serious illnesses from lethal bacteria, according to a study by London Metropolitan University. Dr. Paul Matewele tested five beauty products from designer brands that were near or past their expiration date and found they tested positive for Enterococcus faecalis, a strain of bacteria that causes meningitis.

Other bacteria found on makeup in the study can lead to gastroenteritis, wound infections, acne, skin conditions and urinary infections.

RELATED: Do natural makeup and skincare products work?

The FDA doesn't require cosmetic manufacturers to include expiration dates on beauty product labels. However, the FDA notes that eye makeup has a shorter shelf life than other cosmetics. Mascara, in particular, should be replaced after three months or if it becomes dry because adding water or saliva to moisten it can introduce bacteria, according to the FDA.

Certain all-natural products and products with little or no preservatives also may have short shelf lives, according to the FDA. Cosmetics that have been exposed to the sun or high temperatures may also deteriorate before the expiration date. It's also recommended that a fresh cotton swab or new applicator should be used when testing products because sharing makeup increases the risk of contamination.

Follow writer Scott Stump on Twitter.