More than half of the 33 brand-name lipsticks tested by a non-profit advocacy group had lead in them, though none listed lead as an ingredient. Some of the reddest of the reds have high lead content, at least in those brands that have lead at all.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics had an independent laboratory test the products, one-third of which had more lead than is allowed in candy -- though the Food and Drug Administration has set no limit for lead in cosmetics. The group claims lead applied to the lips is ingested just as candy is, making them equivalent dangers.
Cost was no indicator of safety, with some less-expensive brands like Revlon containing no lead, and more expensive brands like Dior Addict having high levels, relative to other brands.
These were the brands that tested with the most lead content. PPM means parts per million and is a measure of the concentration of a substance. The FDA limit for lead in candy is 0.1 ppm.
Lead is a proven neurotoxin that can cause learning, language and behavioral problems such as lowered IQ, reduced school performance and increased aggression. Pregnant women and young children are particularly vulnerable to lead exposure. Lead easily crosses the placenta and enters the fetal brain where it can interfere with normal development.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is calling on the industry to reformulate products to remove lead, to require suppliers to guarantee that raw materials are free of lead and other contaminants, and to join the campaign in demanding that the FDA more strictly regulate personal care products.
The full report, A Poison Kiss: The Problem of Lead in Lipstick, including complete test results, is posted at www.SafeCosmetics.org.
An industry group, the Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrance Association, released this statement in response to the allegations:
"Despite continuous allegations over the years, lead is not intentionally added to cosmetics. Lead is a naturally occurring element that is found everywhere in the environment. Consumers are exposed daily to lead when they eat, drink water and breathe the air. The average amount of lead a woman would be exposed to when using cosmetics is 1,000 times less than the amount she would get from eating, breathing, and drinking water that meets Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) drinking water standards.
"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set daily safe levels for lead exposure for adults, children and pregnant women. The agency also has set strict limits for lead levels allowed in the colors used in lipsticks, and actually analyze most of these to ensure they are followed. The products identified in the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC) report meet these standards. In fact, all the products tested in the CSC report meet the California standards for safety established under their Prop 65 process.
"Despite the negligible levels of lead found in some lipsticks, cosmetic companies are committed to reducing that level even further. For decades, cosmetic companies have worked to minimize all product contamination, including lead. They actively and continually review all raw materials to ensure that they contain the lowest levels of impurities possible. Cosmetic companies have some of the world's leading chemists, toxicologists, and biologists to evaluate all the safety information."
Learn about potentially safer alternatives here: 11 Lead-Free Lipsticks
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