Who knew there was lead in lipstick? We sure didn’t, and a new study out recently that highlights the lead content in our favorite brands is pretty alarming.
As reported by Mother Jones, the study consisted of researchers asking a group of teenage girls to give their lipsticks and glosses to scientists to test for toxic metals. Though metal content varied widely by brand, researchers found that women who apply lipstick two to three times daily can ingest a significant amount — 20% or more of the daily amount that's considered safe in drinking water — of cadmium, aluminum, chromium, and manganese. What’s worse, a whopping 75% of the samples contained lead.
We don’t know about you, but we clearly live in a cave, because the thought of having that much lead in our lip gloss seems crazy. How long has this been going on, you ask? It turns out that there have been studies on lead in lipstick for years. The first major one was in 2007 when the nonprofit Campaign for Safe Cosmetics tested a range of products and found lead in 61% of them.
Lead wasn’t only found in bargain basement brands either. Burt's Bees (now owned by Clorox) a brand that purports to sell “truly natural products" was found to contain lead. Since then, the FDA has conducted two follow-up studies, one in 2009 and one in 2012. Both studies found much more lead, up to 7.19 parts per million, in the 400 lipstick samples tested. You can click here to see the top 20 lead-containing lipsticks from the 2012 study. We’ll bet you’ll be surprised by the brands — we certainly were!
In case you’re wondering why the FDA isn’t doing anything about the rising lead content in lipstick, it seems that the issue is that although the agency regulates how much of these substances can be in pigment, it doesn’t specify how much metal is allowed in the lipstick overall.
The rate at which the U.S. regulates chemicals is much lower than that of other countries. For instance, the U.S. has only banned 22 chemicals, while the EU currently bans more than 1,300.
If you’re interested in not ingesting lead, the FDA's 2012 test found less than one part per million in the following brands: Wet n' Wild, Bobbi Brown, and Shiseido. You can also be your own watchdog by checking out the following sites: the Environmental Working Group has a database with information on cosmetic products with possible sketchy ingredients, and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has a list of their favorite safe products online.