Toys made in China aren’t the only products laced with dangerous heavy
metals: lipstick manufactured in the United States and used daily by
millions of American women also contains surprisingly high levels of
lead, according to new product tests released today by the Campaign for
Safe Cosmetics. The lead tests were conducted by an independent
laboratory over the month of September on red lipsticks bought in
Boston, Hartford, Conn., San Francisco and Minneapolis. Top findings
More than half of 33 brand-name lipsticks
tested (61 percent) contained detectable levels of lead, with levels
ranging from 0.03 to 0.65 parts per million (ppm). None of these
lipsticks listed lead as an ingredient.
One-third of the tested lipsticks exceeded
the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s 0.1 ppm limit for lead in candy
– a standard established to protect children from directly ingesting
lead. Lipstick products, like candy, are directly ingested into the
body. Nevertheless, the FDA has not set a limit for lead in lipstick,
which fits with the disturbing absence of FDA regulatory oversight and
enforcement capacity for the $50 billion personal care products
The good news is that the tests show it is
possible to make lipstick without lead: 39 percent of lipsticks tested
had no detectable levels of lead, and cost doesn’t seem to be a factor.
Some less expensive brands such as Revlon ($7.49) had no detectable
levels of lead, while the more expensive Dior Addict brand ($24.50) had
higher levels than some other brands.
Among the top brands testing positive for lead 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
Lead is a proven neurotoxin that can cause
learning, language and behavioral problems such as lowered IQ, reduced
school performance and increased aggression. Pregnant women and young
children are particularly vulnerable to lead exposure. Lead easily
crosses the placenta and enters the fetal brain where it can interfere
with normal development. Lead has also been linked to infertility and
“Lead builds up in the body over time and
lead-containing lipstick applied several times a day, every day, can
add up to significant exposure levels. The latest studies show there is
no safe level of lead exposure,” said Mark Mitchell, M.D., MPH,
president, Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice.
“The cosmetics industry needs to clean up
its act and remove lead and other toxic ingredients from their
products,” said Stacy Malkan, author of the just-released book, “Not
Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry.”
“Repeated, daily exposures to low levels of
lead add up – and they add up on top of lead from paint and drinking
water, which is especially a problem in low income communities. There’s
no excuse for lead in lipstick or toys. Companies should act
immediately to reformulate lead-containing products,” Malkan said.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is calling
on the industry to reformulate products to remove lead, to require
suppliers to guarantee that raw materials are free of lead and other
contaminants, and to join the campaign in demanding that the FDA more
strictly regulate personal care products.
The full report, “A Poison Kiss: The Problem of Lead in Lipstick,” including complete test results, is posted at www.SafeCosmetics.org.
Read more about lead in lipstick at www.NotJustaPrettyFace.org.