The lipstick was among dozens of lipsticks found to contain lead when the U.S. group Campaign for Safe Cosmetics commissioned an independent laboratory to test lead levels in 33 brand-name lipsticks.
Sixty-one percent of the lipsticks tested had detectable lead levels. One-third of the lipsticks exceeded accepted U.S. levels of lead for products that are ingested. The Dior lipstick was found to contain more than twice as much lead as is allowed. Last year it was revealed that many lipsticks sold in the United States contain lead. And these were not off brands from a discount store, either.
More than half (61 percent) of 33 name-brand lipsticks tested in September 2007 contained lead levels ranging from 0.03 to 0.65 parts per million (ppm). And one-third of them had more lead than the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s 0.1 ppm limit for lead in candy.
It may sound shocking, but the FDA has not set a lead limit for cosmetics, including lipstick!
Yes, you put it directly on your lips. And yes, you ingest it when you wear it (the average women ingests 10 pounds of lipstick in a lifetime). But it can contain as much lead as the manufacturers see fit, and it doesn’t have to say so on the label.
Among the U.S. lipsticks with the highest lead levels were:
- L’Oreal Colour Riche “True Red” –- 0.65 ppm
- L’Oreal Colour Riche “Classic Wine” –- 0.58 ppm
- Cover Girl Incredifull Lipcolor “Maximum Red” –- 0.56 ppm
- Dior Addict “Positive Red” –- 0.21 ppm
The issue has surfaced again in the media because it was recently ruled that a class-action lawsuit against LVMH, the manufacturer of Dior Addict Positive Red lipstick, can proceed.
It will be interesting to see how the case turns out, considering that …
It’s Not Illegal for Lead to be in Your Lipstick
I’m not one for increased government intervention, but come on.
What exactly is the point of having a “Food and Drug Administration” if they are not going to make sure that toxic substances are kept out of the products you put on your lips or slather all over your body?
And when it comes to toxins, lead is certainly at the top of the list.
Studies have found that there is no safe level of lead, and since it does not break down in your body you will accumulate it for a lifetime. According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, which conducted the lipstick study last year:
“Lead is a proven neurotoxin that can cause learning, language and behavioral problems. Lead is also linked to infertility and miscarriage. Pregnant women and young children are particularly vulnerable to exposure because lead easily crosses the placenta and enters the fetal brain, where it interferes with normal development.”
Lead in your lipstick may come from one of two places: colorants, which may contain lead, or as byproducts from ingredients obtained from raw materials like petrolatum, mineral oil and paraffin. The only limit that the FDA has established is for FD&C color additives that are sometimes used to color lipstick, and these are allowed to contain 10-20 ppm of lead!
Anything Goes When it Comes to Cosmetics
Lead is just the beginning of the toxins that exist in your makeup and cosmetics. It says right on the FDA’s Web site:
"The regulatory requirements governing the sale of cosmetics are not as stringent as those that apply to other FDA-regulated products... Manufacturers may use any ingredient or raw material, except for color additives and a few prohibited substances, to market a product without a government review or approval."
This is not so in many other regions such as the European Union, which banned the use of chemicals that may cause cancer, mutation or birth defects. Apparently the FDA has no problem with these, because they get the green light here in America.
Ingredients to watch out for include:
- Paraben, a chemical found in underarm deodorants and other cosmetics that has been shown to mimic the action of the female hormone estrogen, which can drive the growth of human breast tumors.
- Phthalates, plasticizing ingredients (present in nearly three-quarters of 72 products tested by the Environmental Working Group), which have been linked to birth defects in the reproductive system of boys and lower sperm-motility in adult men, among other problems.
- Mercury, used in mascara, gels, and even eye drops, this metal can damage your brain function. Look for it listed as “thimerosal.”
- Musks, used as fragrances, can accumulate in your body, and have been linked to skin irritation, hormone disruption, and cancer in laboratory studies.
- Artificial fragrances, which are among the top five known allergens, and can cause asthma and trigger asthma attacks. Fragrances can also contain neurotoxins and cause hormone disruption.
- Petroleum byproducts, used in makeup, shampoo (even baby shampoo), face creams and more, these chemicals have been linked to cancer.
- Methylisothiazolinone (MIT), a chemical used in shampoo to prevent bacteria from developing, which may have detrimental effects on your nervous system.
Your cosmetics should be just as pure as the food you eat because ultimately they both end up in the same place: your body. Look for products that actually list their ingredients, and then accept only those with items you recognize.
You can also look for products that have signed the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics “Compact for Safe Cosmetics,” which is a pledge to formulate products that do not use ingredients that are known or suspected to cause certain health harms. Another great resource is the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database.
You can look for many categories of cosmetics and choose only those with a low (0-2) score.
Last but not least, I am proud to report that my team has been researching this topic extensively and we are very close to launching one of the best skin care product lines out there. It is truly effective, has absolutely no synthetic ingredients, and is packaged in glass bottles.