Thursday, February 16, 2012

Does Your Lipstick Contain Lead? The Best And The Worst Offenders

400 lipsticks tested by the FDA contained lead.

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The FDA's Expanded Survey
In October of 2007, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC) reported finding lead in lipsticks. In the spring of 2010, the FDA conducted an expanded survey of lipsticks that included various price points, shades and manufacturers. A total of 400 lipsticks were tested for their lead content. Lead was detected in all 400 samples with levels ranging from .026 parts per million (ppm) to 7.19 ppm. 

But it's Not Candy!
The FDA-recommended upper limit for lead in candy is 0.1 ppm. Yet the FDA is not concerned about the lead levels in lipsticks even though they are as high as 72 times the allowed levels in candy. Here's what they say:
"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."
I don't know about you, but I lick my lips continually so I know I'm ingesting whatever product is on there. And I shutter to think about all the little girls who get into mommy's makeup drawer! Whether or not the FDA is alarmed, I think it's best to know what's in each of these brands and avoid the ones that contain the most lead.

The Top 10 Worst Offenders
#1 Worst offender - Maybelline's Color Sensation in Pink Petal.
Lead content of 7.19 ppm
#2 Offender - L'Oreal Colour Riche in Volcanic.
Lead content of 7.0 ppm.
#3 Offender - NARS semi-matte in Red Lizard.
Lead content of 4.93 ppm.
#4 Offender - Cover Girl Queen Collection Vibrant Hues Color in Ruby Remix.
Lead content of 4.92 ppm.
#5 Offender - NARS Semi-Matte in Funny Face.
Lead content of 4.89 ppm.
#6 Offender - L'Oreal Colour Rich in Tickled Pink.
Lead content of 4.45 ppm.
#7 Offender - L'Oreal Intensely Moisturizing Lipcolor in Heroic.
Lead content of 4.41 ppm.
#8 Offender - Cover Girl Continuous Color in Warm Brick.
Lead content of 4.28 ppm.
#9 Offender - Maybelline Color Sensation in Mauve Me.
Lead content of 4.23.

#10 Offender - Stargazer lipstick in shade 103.
Lead content of 4.12.

The Worst Companies
Being an engineer, I wanted to look at more data so I reviewed the top 100 offenders to see if there was a trend. There was!
Over half of the top 100 lipsticks with lead levels ranging from 1.5 ppm to 7.19 ppm were produced by only 3 companies - Revlon (22%), Cover Girl (16%) and L'Oreal (10% as the L'Oreal brand and 6% as the Maybelline brand owned by L'Oreal). The remaining 46% was made up of 18 companies. Even Burts Bees had 2 offending products. 

The Best Company
Of the 400 tested, 20 lipsticks had levels lower than .1 ppm (the upper limit for lead in candy). Half of the lipsticks with this very low level of lead were manufactured by Estée Lauder or companies owned by Estée Lauder (Bobbi Brown, Clinique and MAC). 

To be fair, even Estée Lauder made 6% of the lipsticks in the worst 100 list so even the best companies could have some products with excessive lead and the worst companies could have some products with very little lead. For example, the best 3 products with the lowest lead content are:
(1) Clinique's Almost Black Honey, (2) L'Oreal's Colour Juice Cherry on Top and (3) Wet'n Wild's Mega Mixers Lipbalm, Bahama Mama - all with lead levels less than 0.026.

The best thing to do is look at the ENTIRE LIST OF 400 PRODUCTS TESTED to determine the safest lipstick to buy! 


Debra said...

Thank you for this excellent information! People just don't think about that fact that you are eating and absorbing the lipstick. YIKES!! (I do think about this though). I recently made my own lip gloss and it turned out pretty good, but it still needs some help. I hope to eventually do a post with some healthy & inexpensive options in this area:)

Dr. Joanne L. Mumola Williams said...

Check out my daughter's company Lulu Organics. It's flagship product is a dry shampoo but she makes a very nice lip balm

Anonymous said...

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Ana Manwariong said...

I'm so relieved to find my lipsticks are not on the terrible list. I lick it off too...

Marnie said...

Great post. Our skin does absorb, that's why big pharma is now making works faster.

Dr. Joanne L. Mumola Williams said...

Yes indeed!