Updated FDA Tests Show U.S. Lipsticks have Elevated Lead LevelsFebruary 15th, 2012 | Posted by in Drug Facts | Illness | Prevention
It seems like a typical scenario which reeks of bureaucracy – The FDA tests a common consumer product under pressure from a consumer coalition (in this case, Campaign for Safe Cosmetics) and comes to a verdict which supports “big business” only to test the same consumer products years later with an altogether different, often more dangerous result.
This is what happened when the FDA began their tests of various brands of lipsticks in the United States during the 90s. They released their findings in a report in 2007 which stated that of the 33 red lipsticks that were tested 60 percent of them contained lead. They performed follow-up tests of 20 additional lipsticks and released their findings in a report in 2008. Under further pressure, the FDA then initiated its largest lipstick study to date (400 brands) and discovered that the average lead concentration in the 400 lipsticks tested was 1.11 parts per million but some products far exceeded that.
They came to the conclusion that although lead was prevalent in all of the lipstick brands, the amount that was to be ingested was miniscule because lipstick is a topical cosmetic. Thus, ingesting lead in such small amounts would not lead to health or safety concerns. Lead can damage many systems of the human body and has been know to contribute to kidney damage and reduced IQ in children. Pregnant women are especially vulnerable to the damaging characteristics of lead.
Dr. Mark Mitchell, co-chair of the environmental health task force for the National Medical Association, asserts that even these small amounts of lead can be hazardous. “”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,” said Mitchell.
To put the amount of lead detected in the lipstick in context, one needs to only consider that the maximum amount of lead allowed in U.S. drinking water is 15 parts per billion. Further, children’s products in the U.S. cannot contain more than 100 parts per million of lead In the recent FDA study one L’Oreal brand contained 7.19 parts per million, 275 times more than the lipstick with the least amount of detectable lead – which also happened to be the cheapest lip balm.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is now pushing for increased FDA regulation of these cosmetics. In an open letter to Dr. Linda Katz, Director of the FDA Office of Cosmetics and Colors, the organization points out that “The CDC committee’s report identifies imported cosmetics as a risk factor for lead exposure in pregnant and lactating women,” the letter reads. “However, the FDA study on lead in lipstick indicates that lead is also a problem with cosmetics manufactured in the US.”
It is unknown if their demands for more rigorous lead restrictions in lipstick are met by the FDA. If the general public came to support the reduction of lead in lipsticks and formed an alliance with groups like the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics to put pressure on the L’Oreals and Maybellines on the cosmetic world, then we might see some movement on this issue. Until then it might be wise to reconsider how much lipstick you really need.
Top 10 Lead Lipsticks
Maybelline Color Sensational – Pink Petal – Lead content: 7.19 ppm
L’Oreal Colour Riche – Volcanic – Lead content: 7.00 ppm
NARS Semi-Matte – Red Lizard – Lead content: 4.93 ppm
Cover Girl Queen Collection Vibrant Hues Color – Ruby Remix – Lead content: 4.92 ppm
NARS Semi-Matte – Funny Face – Lead content: 4.89 ppm
L’Oreal Colour Riche – Tickled Pink – Lead content: 4.45 ppm
L’Oreal Intensely Moisturizing Lipcolor – Heroic – Lead content: 4.41 ppm
Cover Girl Continuous Color – Warm Brick – Lead content: 4.28 ppm
Maybelline Color Sensational – Mauve Me – Lead content: 4.23 ppm
- Stargazer Lipstick 103 c – Lead content: 4.12 parts-per-million
Credit – CBS News