(Health Secrets Newsletter) An analysis commissioned by the FDA of 400 popular lipstick products has alarmingly found at least some lead in every single product. The amount of lead found in 380 of the lipstick products tested was greater than the maximum 0.1 parts per million (ppm) allowed in candy bars – in some instances as much as 70 times greater. However, the FDA stated that it did not consider the lead content to represent any danger because lipstick is not intended to be ingested.
Apparently, the FDA chose to ignore the obvious fact that eating, kissing or drinking while wearing lipstick can lead to ingestion of at least some of the lipstick. Likewise, the FDA chose to overlook the fact of how easily items are absorbed into the body through the skin – which is why so many medications are applied transdermally in skin patches, creams and oils. One obvious example is the nicotine patch used to help wean smokers from cigarettes.
In recent years, health destroying toxins have been increasingly identified in beauty and body care products, and reports of lead in lipstick date back to the 1990s. The recent FDA analysis is an expansion of a previous analysis performed in 2007 which was spurred by testing performed by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics on 33 shades of red lipstick. The campaign found that 20 of the tested shades contained lead in excess of the maximum amount allowed in candy bars.
In the initial 2007 analysis, the FDA tested the same 20 red shades of lipstick that had been identified by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. That FDA analysis found that 19 of the 20 exceeded the 0.1 ppm maximum limit for candy bars and the average lead content was found to be 1.07 ppm. The new expanded analysis confirmed the previous results, finding lead content in all 400 products tested with 380 of the products exceeding the limit for candy bars.
To put the two sets of analyses in perspective, both found lead in 100% of the products tested, and 95% of the lipstick products’ lead content exceeded the maximum safe amount of lead allowed in candy bars.
The latest analysis also reviewed top lipstick brands sold to children and adults alike and was performed by Frontier Global Sciences, Inc., a private laboratory based in Seattle, WA. It will be published in the May/June, 2012 issue of the Journal of Cosmetic Science. The 400 lipstick products were all purchased at retail stores between February and July of 2010.
Of the 400 lipsticks tested, the top 5 offenders were:
1. Maybelline’s Color Sensational 125 Pink Petal at 7.19 ppm of lead.
2. L’Oreal’s Colour Riche 410 Volcanic at 7.00 ppm.
3. NARS’ Semi-Matte 1005 Red Lizard at 4.93 ppm.
4. Cover Girl Queen Collection’s Vibrant Hues Color Q580 Ruby Remix at 4.92 ppm.
5. NARS’ Semi-Matte 1009 Funny Face at 4.89 ppm.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, whose initial tests led to the FDA analyses, has been leading the charge against lead in lipstick products for years and continues to call on the FDA to take action against lipsticks and other cosmetic products which have been found to have lead, mercury and other toxins.
Though the FDA maintains that the amounts of lead found are not dangerous, their site does note “Although we do not believe that the lead content found in our recent lipstick analyses poses a safety concern, we are evaluating whether there may be a need to recommend an upper limit for lead in lipstick in order to further protect the health and welfare of consumers.”
The full list of lipsticks tested and their manufacturers can be viewed at:
For more information: