Lead Presence in Lipsticks
News agencies, TV stations, and activity groups, all around the country are reporting about the lead presence in lipsticks. Several small-scale studies that have been done by independent reporting agencies found lead in lipsticks.
But, the one that is stirring the pot and is even getting the attention of The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the test done by the advocacy group called The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics released product test results that found more than half of the tested 33 brand-name lipsticks contained lead.
The lead tests were conducted by an independent laboratory, Bodycote Testing Group in Santa Fe Spring, California, on red lipsticks bought in Boston, San Francisco, Minneapolis and Hartford, Connecticut.
The tests revealed that 61 percent of the tested lipsticks had detectable lead levels of 0.03 to 0.65 parts per million (ppm) from which one third of the 33 red lipsticks exceeded 0.1 ppm — which is the FDA's limit for lead in candy.
The FDA does not set a limit for lead in lipstick.
The testing found the highest levels of lead in several samples of L'Oreal and Cover Girl cosmetics, and Dior Addict brand.
L'Oreal Colour Riche "True Red" lipstick had a lead content of 0.65 ppm, and a sample of the makeup giant's "Classic Wine" color had a lead content of 0.58 ppm. To put it in perspective, that’s 5 to 6 times the FDA limit for lead in candy.
Dior Addict "Positive Red" had a lead content of 0.21 ppm
Cover Girl's Incredifull Lipcolor "Maximum Red" and ContinuousColor "CherryBrandy" had lead contents of 0.56 and 0.28 parts per million, respectively. In a statement, L'Oreal said it "proudly stands behind" its products.
The lead levels varied independently of the lipstick's cost. Actually, some less expensive brands, such as Revlon, had no detectable levels of lead.
Detailed list of the tested lipsticks with their lead amount is coming later in this report. Keep reading.
The good news is that the tests show it is possible to make lipstick without lead: 39% of tested lipsticks 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.
"There are hazardous levels of lead in lipstick," said Stacy Malkan, a cofounder of The Campaign For Safe Cosmetics. "Our test identified a problem in the industry. There's lead in lipstick that doesn't need to be there and shouldn't be there." She then added: "It's possible to make lipsticks without lead, and all companies should be doing that."
But she cautioned that these tests should not be taken as "the definitive word" on lead in lipstick because this is just "a tiny percentage of the market in lipstick."
"These levels of lead are not likely to cause poisoning," said Tickner, a specialist on exposure to toxic chemicals and a professor of environmental health at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. "They are likely to be cumulative to other exposures and can cause subtle neurological effects you can't trace back to a single exposure."
He cautioned: "The lead levels should not concern healthy women without children in their homes. But use of lead-tainted lipstick by pregnant women could lead to lead exposure for the fetus, and lead exposure for children who use lipstick is also a concern."
He said: "If you have a mom who uses a lipstick which has some lead in it and then she gets pregnant, she may be slightly poisoned and can poison her fetus. Then the baby is born and may have an elevated lead level, which is dangerous."
Dr. Mark Mitchell, president of the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice reported: "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."