Lead is often found in lipstick, according to tests administered by Good Morning America. Reporters from ABC News bought 22 different lipsticks and lip glosses and took them to Underwriters Laboratories for lead testing. The results may have women questioning whether their health is safe next time they purse their lips.
Underwriters Laboratories used the government’s own test method and found that 12 of 22 samples, or 55 percent, contained trace amounts of lead with the highest levels at 3.22 parts per million. That lead found in lipstick may sound worrisome, but it’s not illegal because there is no federal lead limit for cosmetics.
“The industry creates its own standards and they have been abiding by them pretty regularly,” said Roy Lamothe, Underwriters Laboratories’ general manager.
But just because the lead found in lipstick is legal does not mean that is necessarily safe for your body.
“What we know now is that even the lowest levels of lead can harm your IQ, your behavior, your ability to learn,” Dr Sean Palfrey, medical director for the Boston Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.
The cosmetics industry counters that their products meet the lead limit for lipstick in California, which is 5 parts per million, and Europe, which is 10 parts per million. So worrying about trace amounts of lead found in lipstick distracts from greater risks.
“If you were serious about the public health aspects of lead poisoning you would not be looking at lipstick,” said Dr. Halyna Breslawec, chief scientist for the Personal Care Products Council, the national trade association which represents the cosmetics industry. “You would be looking at locations where children live. Do they live near hazardous waste dumps – are they chewing lead-containing paint fragments?”
Good Morning America declined to list which lipstick and lip glass brands had been tested but said that it had selected a range of colors from department stores and drugstores in the United States. According to the Daily Mail, a 2010 study by the FDA found the highest lead level in lipstick was 7 parts per million, with the newest 400 shades of popular lipsticks containing trace amounts of lead.
The FDA is considering whether to enforce an upper limit on lead found in lipstick. Lipsticks made by L’Oreal, Maybelline, Cover Girl, NARS and Stargazer landed in the top ten for lead.
Would you want to know whether lead is found in your lipstick?