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Lead in lipstick

Posted at 7:39 AM, Jun 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-15 07:39:09-04

For many women, their morning routine includes putting on makeup.

A 2007 Campaign for Safe Cosmetics study called a poison kiss found 61% of lipsticks contain lead.

"Just completely frightening," according to nail salon owner Michele Schlossberg. 

But the FDA didn't do a follow-up study until 2009, finding lead levels were four times higher than the campaign study. 

Schlossberg says it's disturbing chemicals are allowed in beauty products, when they're not allowed in our homes. "You have to disclose if you're buying a house there could potentially be lead in there. So why is it OK that we can educate people that there's no lead on the walls, but then we can have it in our lipstick which is on our face?" 

And it goes deeper than the surface. 

"Anything that goes onto your skin or even your lips, it's absorbed in the bloodstream. You wouldn't necessarily eat food if you knew that there was something that was really, really harming your body, and that's what parabens do," Schlossberg says. 

Companies used chemicals before they knew their impact but why not change the formula now?  "Probably just more out of fear base that something's gonna change and I think it's just that it's been in there for years and for whatever reason they're not willing to change that." 

But she says you can change your products. "There's an app called Think Dirty. Let's say for example you're using a brand and you don't know if there's lead in there, you enter it and it will tell you if it has lead levels in there, and then yes, unfortunately, if it does, I would completely dispose of it." 

Schlossberg says it can be overwhelming to start over, so start small. "OK, I'm not gonna have lipsticks with lead in it and I'm not gonna have any sort of facial or body products with parabens and just start there." 

So, should you be concerned? What the FDA says:

We concluded that up to 10 ppm lead in cosmetic lip products and externally applied cosmetics would not pose a health risk. 

 FDA has issued draft guidance to industry recommending that cosmetic lip products and externally applied cosmetics not contain more than 10 ppm lead as an impurity.

Although most cosmetics on the market in the United States generally already contain less than 10 ppm of lead, a small number contained higher amounts, and we are aware that some cosmetics from other countries contain lead at higher levels. This makes guidance on recommended maximum lead levels all the more important as more products are imported into this country.