I’ve been reading about lead in certain brands of lipstick for as long as I can remember. And recently there has been quite a bit of media attention on this topic, specifically by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics which showed, in a study, that 61 percent of lipsticks contained lead, you can read the full article here. I initially decided not to write about this topic since it has been covered by several major media outlets as well as several well-respected beauty blogs. However I just recently read a beauty blog where the blogger suggested that lead in lipstick was not harmful and I was a bit shocked. While it’s a personal choice to buy whatever cosmetics your like best, I think it’s irresponsible to encourage readers to buy lipsticks containing lead.
Companies will state the amount of lead found in lipstick is minimal so there is really no concern – but the real question is why is there lead in lipstick at all? Yes, we have lead in our bodies due to environmental exposure, foods that we eat, jewelry, toys, supplements etc. But why should we continue to add more dangerous lead into our bodies? Lead poisoning can occur over months or years of exposure to even small amounts of lead. And according to WebMD lead poisoning can cause serious health problems, including high blood pressure, damage to the brain, nervous system, stomach, and kidneys. I would also like to note that sometimes there are no noticeable symptoms of lead poisoning so you might not even know that you are being affected by it!
What does the FDA say about lead in lipstick?
“Because reports about lead in lipstick have surfaced periodically and because of the time that had elapsed since we last examined information on lipsticks in the marketplace, we decided that further follow-up was needed.”
“Is there a safety concern about the lead levels FDA found in lipsticks? No. We have assessed the potential for harm to consumers from use of lipstick containing lead at the levels found in both rounds of testing. Lipstick, as a product intended for topical use with limited absorption, is ingested only in very small quantities. We do not consider the lead levels we found in the lipsticks to be a safety concern. The lead levels we found are within the limits recommended by other public health authorities for lead in cosmetics, including lipstick.”
Really FDA??? Yes, we know that lipstick is intended for topical use however…
According the US National Library of Medicine lead can be absorbed through the skin: “It is usually assumed that lead can be absorbed through the skin only if it is present as an organolead compound such as tetraethyllead or lead naphthanate. It has been found, however, that finely-powdered lead metal or lead nitrate solution placed on the skin results in rapid absorption of lead, and transport of the metal around the body.” Furthermore unless you remove your lipstick before eating you are ingesting small amounts of the product every single time that you eat or drink something.
Personally I do not feel that any products should contain toxic ingredients at all, even if the amounts are miniscule. In my opinion there is NEVER any need to ingest any amount of toxic ingredient, no matter who says it’s safe. And I’ll give you an example why. When I was pregnant with my oldest son, I had anxiety. My then physician told me that I could continue to take Paxil and that it was safe. However I felt that taking any kind of medication while pregnant should be avoided at all costs so I decided against it. Fast forward a decade later and you may have read about several lawsuits against the makers of Paxil from mothers with children that suffered birth defects including malformations of the head, abdominal wall and the lungs and even heart defects including holes in the walls of the chambers of the heart. WOW.
The top two offenders that have the highest amount of lead in their lipsticks are Covergirl and L’oreal but several other major beauty brands also contain lead, the full list can be found here. So I’ve decided not to use or review any brands that insist on keeping lead in their lipstick and I urge you to do the same.
What are your thoughts about lead in lipstick?