The first report on the subject came out into the light in 2007 when the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics released, “A Poison Kiss: The Problem of Lead in Lipstick,” after that the FDA promised to run its own testing. After a two-year wait, results of the study done on lead found in lipstick have been published in the July/August 2009 issue of the Journal of Cosmetic Science. This trade journal is not readily accessible to the general public. Unfortunately this report can only be bought through their site and it does not name the brands that were tested.Moreover, this testing was intended to highlight the effectiveness of a new lead-testing tool, not to reveal the quantities of lead found in lipstick.
What the FDA found is surprising. All lipsticks tested had some level of lead, ranging from 0.09 ppm (parts per million) to 3.06 ppm – more than four times the highest lead level of 0.65 reported in the 2007 CSC (Campaign for Safe Cosmetics) study.FDA used a new testing method to analyze lipstick and concluded that earlier methods likely underestimated the amount of lead in lipstick.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has set a safe lead level for candy (also ingestible) to be 0.1 parts per million. The lipstick brand containing the greatest concentration of lead measured 0.65 parts per million.The FDA hasn’t established a level of lead that is considered hazardous yet, while the U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (not a regulatory body) has declared in information for consumers on lead that “no safe blood lead level has been identified.” Many of the ingredients used in lipstick have not been tested thoroughly to prove the exact levels of toxicity in the human body. Although the FDA limits lead in candy for children’s protection there is no such limit for lipstick, which people still do ingest.
Even though lipstick use is for topical use only, we ingest small amounts of it and its ingredients when we lick our lips, eat, drink or kiss someone who is wearing lipstick. Glamour magazine wrote in their June 2002 issue that a woman ingests upwards of four pounds of lipstick in her lifetime. Because lead is a compound that accumulates in the body, trace amounts over time can become hazardous.
Lead and your body
Confirmed harmful effects of lead in the human body are numerous. Lead is a dangerous chemical and proven neurotoxin involved in the interference of a variety of body processes as well as developmental abnormalities. Although studies show specific levels of lead are considered safe, constant exposure may accumulate and become a health risk over time.
Lead ingestion has been linked to impaired functioning of the nervous system, seizures, brain damage, anemia, and if exposed long enough damage to the kidneys, reproductive harm and mental and physical retardation, and behavioral problems in children. Lead can also cause miscarriage, reduced fertility in men and women, menstrual irregularities and delays in the onset of puberty in girls. Which may result in language, learning and behavioral difficulties in children, as well as lowered IQ, reduced school performance and increase in aggression. Pregnant women who wear lipstick on a daily basis could pass lead through the placenta to their unborn child, affecting his/her normal development.
Although some cosmetic companies have protested the possibility of manufacturing a lead-free lipstick, claiming it to be too expensive and difficult to do, Stacy Malkan, co-founder and author of the award winning Not Just A Pretty Face: The Ugly Side Of The Beauty Industry http://notjustaprettyface.org/ says these lead-free lipsticks exist and can be most likely bought at your closest drugstore.
The bottom line is that lead is toxic and no matter the amount, you should never be exposed to it.