More than half of all major brand-name lipsticks may contain lead, according to tests conducted by an independent laboratory on behalf of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.
Thirty-three brand-name red lipsticks were purchased in Boston, San Francisco, Minneapolis and Hartford, Conn. and tested for lead. Of these, 61 percent contained lead in detectable amounts, from 0.03 up to 0.65 parts per million (ppm). One-third of the lipsticks tested contained lead in concentrations higher than 0.1 ppm, which is the cutoff point set by the FDA for lead in candy.
According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, lead in lipstick is just as directly ingested into the body as lead in candy. Lead is a potent neurotoxin that has been shown to cause mental damage including learning disabilities, increased aggression and language problems. It is particularly dangerous to a developing organism and can cross the placenta, placing children and pregnant women at particularly high risk.
The brands with the highest lead concentrations were L’Oreal’s Colour Riche “True Red” and “Classic Wine,” with 0.65 and 0.58 ppm, respectively. Next came Cover Girl’s Incredifull Lipcolor “Maximum Red” (0.56 ppm), and Dior Addict’s “Positive Red” (0.21 ppm).
“The good news is that the tests show it is possible to make lipstick without lead,” the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics said. “Thirty-nine percent of lipsticks tested 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.”
According to Stacy Malkan, author of “Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry,” lead in cosmetics is particularly dangerous because daily use can cause the toxin to build up in the body.
“Repeated, daily exposures to low levels of lead add up – and they add up on top of lead from paint and drinking water, which is especially a problem in low-income communities,” she said. “There’s no excuse for lead in lipstick or toys. Companies should act immediately to reformulate lead-containing products.”