Lead Found In Hundreds Of Popular Lipsticks

Many of us put on lipstick several times a day, never thinking about exactly what we’re applying, not realizing in most lipsticks, you’ll find lead.

The FDA’s recent study found lead in all 400 lipsticks and lip glosses they tested, with Maybelline’s Color Sensational in Pink Petal topping the list.

The news has prompted a lot of concern among women.

The FDA tells us: “In response to a number of inquiries the FDA has received regarding reports of lead contamination in lipstick, we have developed and validated a method for analyzing lead content in currently marketed lipstick. Our results do not show levels of lead in lipstick that would pose a safety concern.”

The FDA is now considering recommending limits for lead in lipstick.

What is FDA’s legal authority over cosmetic safety?
FDA regulates cosmetic safety under the authority of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act). The FD&C Act requires that cosmetics marketed in interstate commerce be safe when used as directed in the labeling or under customary conditions of use. Cosmetics are not subject to pre-market approval by FDA. However, pre-market approval is required for the color additives used in cosmetics (including those in lipsticks), with the exception of coal-tar hair dyes.

What are FDA’s limits for lead in color additives?
FDA limits lead in color additives to maximum specified levels, typically no more than 20 parts per million (ppm) for color additives approved for use in cosmetics. In addition, the color additives listed under regulations in 21 CFR Parts 74 and 82 are required to be batch-certified by FDA, which includes testing each batch for lead, before they may be used in cosmetics.

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.

Lipstick and Lead: Questions and Answers
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Full FDA List Of Lipsticks With Lead

Dr. Sean Palfrey, Professor of Pediatrics and Chief of Boston’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, says, “What they are saying is we don’t want you who have been using these lipsticks for years to panic, it’s probably not harming you. However, when we are trying to make our environment as safe as we can for children, we want to take the poisons out of their environment.”

Dr. Palfrey says lead can harm children’s learning, language and behavior development, which is why he recommends pregnant women take a closer look at their lipstick, and he says moms should keep it away from their kids. He explains, “Our bodies store lead unfortunately. For instance for a mother, that lead that is stored gets mobilized when they are pregnant. A baby could be born with lead poisoning simply because a mom was exposed herself.”

Cindy Luppi, of Clean Water Action, says more needs to be done. Luppi says, “Clean Water Action/Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is glad to see that FDA is considering setting an upper limit for lead in lipstick and we urge them to do so as soon as possible. Since there is no safe level of lead exposure, the limit for lipstick should be based on the lowest lead levels that companies can feasibly achieve.

This is the same logic the FDA used in recommending a limit for lead in candy at .1 ppm — not because that level of lead is safe in candy but because that is the lowest lead levels companies can reasonably achieve with good manufacturing practices. She says, “It’s disturbing to see that L’Oreal makes five of the top 10 most lead contaminated brands, including numbers 1 and 2. L’Oreal owes it to women to do a better job keeping the lead out of their lipstick.”

L’Oreal issued this statement in response:

“The FDA’s independent study, which will be published in the May/June, 2012 issue of the Journal of Cosmetic Science, confirms that lipsticks pose no safety concerns for the millions of women who use them daily. The lead levels detected by the FDA in the study are also within the limits recommended by global public health authorities for cosmetics, including lipstick.

All the brands manufactured and marketed by L’Oréal are in compliance with FDA regulations as well as the European Union Cosmetic Directive and the requirements for consumer safety in the more than 130 countries in which our products are sold. L’Oréal maintains the highest standards for safety and consumers can use all of our products with complete confidence.”

Senator John Kerry is of the lawmakers leading the effort for more accountability. He tells us, “For years, Senators Boxer, Feinstein, and I pressed the FDA to hold these companies accountable and provide strong oversight to ensure the products our families use are safe. It’s hard to believe all these years later we’re still hearing about lead in lipstick. Consumers shouldn’t have to cross their fingers and hope that an FDA-approved product won’t put them at risk, they should know it for a fact. The FDA needs to act fast to set clear safety standards.”

Until there is more accountability, Dr. Palfrey says, “Be smart, try to find out whether it has lead in it, and try to find the safest lipstick you can.”


By Karen Anderson, WBZ-TV

Provided by ArmMed Media