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Lead in lipstick, arsenic in eyeliner and cadmium in mascara: The ugly secrets that the beauty industry isnít telling you


by Daisy DumasMail Online
February 21st, 2012

There have long been suspicions over the levels of toxins in make-up, with numerous reports paying close attention, in particular, to lead levels in lipsticks.

But the practice of including harmful chemicals and heavy metals in make-up does not end with an alluring red pout.

According to eMaxHealth, eyeliner and concealers contain cadmium, powders and blushers are not nickel-free, beryllium is found in bronzes and eye-shadow and mascara and foundations even include arsenic.

Consumers will not find the red-flagged ingredients labelled on packaging, however.

A 2011 report found that heavy metals are all-too common in some make-up. The Environmental Defence report, Heavy Metal Hazard: The Health Risks of Hidden Heavy Metals in Face Makeup, looked at 49 popular make-up products including  Clinique foundation and and L'Oreal mascara.

The Ontario-based researchers analysed the products for the presence of arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, beryllium, nickel, selenium and thallium - the latter four of which are banned in cosmetics in Canada.

According to the health site, they found that all of the toxins but mercury was found in every tested product.

On average, each product contained four of the toxins of concern. Never was a single one of the heavy metals labelled on packaging - because they are considered to be 'impurities', not added intentionally, but existing only as byproducts.

Specifically, Clinique Stay True makeup (Stay Ivory) contained arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, nickel, lead, and thallium while Cover Girl Perfect Point Plus eye liner contained beryllium, cadmium, nickel and lead, reports the site.

Popular mascara, LíOreal Bare Naturale, was shown to include arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, nickel, lead and thallium in its formula.

The effects of the toxins, which can be absorbed through the skin, is a worrying roll call of health problems, including hormone disruption, cancer, neurological problems, memory loss, mood swings, reproductive and developmental disorders, kidney problems, headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, lung damage, dermatitis and hair loss.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is calling for make-up giants to reformulate their products and make contents labelling clearer.

An additional recent report by the American Food and Drug Administration highlighted the lead contents of 400 lipstick brands. The results were eyebrow-raising surprising to say the least, with some of the more well-respected cosmetics companies, including Maybelline and L'Oreal, using the toxin in their formulas where better value brands, such as $1.99 Wet 'N' Wild Mega Mixers gloss, did not.

Maybelline Color Sensation had more than 275 times the lead content of the least toxic-heavy product.

In fact, that December 2011 report found that lipsticks contained more the double the amount of lead than previous studies had suggested.

eMaxHealth reports that the FDA's findings were promptly followed by a call from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pointing out that lead should never be exposed to children or to pregnant women.

Lead is a neurotoxin that is known to accumulate over time. It causes behavioural and learning problems and has been banned in certain industries, such as household paints, since the Seventies.