Lipstick Lead Poisoning:

Beware of Lipsticks That Contain Lead

By Dr. Ben Kim

If you wear lipstick on a regular basis, please know that a test that was recently commissioned by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found 20 different brand-name lipsticks to contain lead. Eleven of these lipsticks were discovered to contain more than the 0.1 ppm limit that has been set by the FDA to protect children from direct ingestion of dangerous amounts of lead.

Unfortunately, there are no regulations in place that limit the amount of lead that can be used when manufacturing lipstick. According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics' report, the average woman who wears make-up eats approximately 4 pounds (1.81 kilograms) of lipstick during her lifetime via drinking, eating, and kissing - this unnecessary exposure to lead can ultimately contribute to the development of a variety of health problems.

The most common health problems that are associated with lead ingestion in teenagers and adults are:

  • Fatigue
  • Sleeplessness
  • Headaches
  • Mental impairment
  • Irritability
  • Hearing problems
  • Abdominal pain

Short-term exposure to high levels of lead can result in diarrhea, vomiting, convulsions, coma, and even death.

In children, exposure to significant amounts of lead can lead to any of the symptoms listed above, as well as stunted growth and hyperactivity.

Pregnant women should know that lead can easily cross over to the circulation of a growing baby, where it can upset embryonic development.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics' study found that price made no difference in predicting the lead content of various brands of lipstick. For example, one of the most heavily contaminated samples, called "Dior Addict," carries a retail price of $24.50 per stick, while a Revlon stick priced at $7.49 was found to be lead-free.

The brands of lipstick that tested to have the highest amounts of lead are as follows:

  • L’Oreal Colour Riche "True Red": 0.65 ppm
  • L’Oreal Colour Riche "Classic Wine": 0.58 ppm
  • Cover Girl Incredifull Lipcolor "Maximum Red": 0.56 ppm
  • Dior Addict "Positive Red": 0.21 ppm
  • Cover Girl Continuous Color "CherryBrandy": 0.28 ppm.

Brands of lipstick that were found to contain insignificant amounts of lead (less than 0.02 ppm) are listed below:

  • Avon: Ultra Color Rich Cherry Jubilee
  • Body Shop Lip Colour Garnet (parent company L’Oreal)
  • Estee Lauder Clinique Long Last Lipstick Merlot
  • Dior/LVMH Replenishing Lipcolor Red Premiere
  • Estee Lauder - Maraschino
  • MAC - Matte Lipstick Viva Glam 1 (parent company Estee Lauder)
  • Revlon - Superlustrous Love That Red
  • Revlon - Superlustrous Bed of Roses
  • Revlon - Colorstay Lipcolor Red Velvet
  • Tarte - Inside Out Vitamin Lipstick
  • Wet N Wild - Mega Colors Cherry Blossom (parent company Markwins)

For more information about lead poisoning, including 18 different ways that you can reduce your and your family's risk of being exposed to lead around your home, view:

Ways To Prevent Lead Poisoning

If you are interested in learning about the finer details of the Campaign For Safe Cosmetics' test, view the following web site: A Poison Kiss: The Problem of Lead in Lipstick.

November 7, 2007 Addenum

A few of our readers have sent me links to various articles online that dispute the validity and/or importance of the Campaign For Safe Cosmetics' test. If this issue is important to you, then I encourage you to read the full report that was published by the Campaign For Safe Cosmetics. You'll discover exactly how they went about obtaining their test samples, and how they had those samples tested by independent and reliable entities.

It's true that the amount of lead that was found in the most highly contaminated samples in their study is not likely to cause acute lead poisoning. The purpose of their study and this article on their study is to increase public awareness of the real potential dangers of wearing lead-contaminated lipstick over a long period of time. Many brands of lipstick also contain a variety of chemicals that can add to one's toxic burden on a daily basis. Over many years, this unnecessary toxic burden can contribute to immune system dysfunction.

Please share this article with family and friends who wear lipstick. Thank you.

Dr. Ben KimImprove Your Health With Our Free E-mail Newsletter

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