So lipstick not only tastes like a bizarre combination of paint, paste and chalk, costs way too much money and dries out your lips, according to a new study it might also be dangerous to your health. Maybe all of that lead makes it last longer? Or makes the color prettier?
Lipsticks tested by a U.S. consumer rights group found that more than half contained lead and some popular brands including Cover Girl, L’Oreal and Christian Dior had more lead than others, the group said on Thursday.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics said tests on 33 brand-name red lipsticks by the Bodycote Testing Group in Santa Fe Spring, California, found that 61 percent had detectable lead levels of 0.03 to 0.65 parts per million (ppm).
Lipstick, like candy, is ingested. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition of public health, environmental and women’s groups, said the FDA has not set a limit for lead in lipstick.
One-third of the lipsticks tested contained an amount of lead that exceeded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s 0.1 ppm limit for lead in candy — a standard established to protect children from ingesting lead, the group said. Thirty-nine percent of the lipsticks tested had no discernible lead, it said.
“It’s critical that manufacturers reformulate their product,” said Stacy Malkan, a co-founder of the coalition. “It’s possible to make lipsticks without lead, and all companies should be doing that.”
Lead can cause learning, language and behavioral problems such as reduced school performance and increased aggression. Pregnant women and young children are particularly vulnerable to lead exposure, the group said in its statement. Lead has also been linked to infertility and miscarriage, it said. (emphasis mine)
This is one of those days when I’m glad that I found feminism in college and stopped wearing almost all makeup instead of, like many women, started wearing more. I say that not to judge women who do wear makeup or say that makeup-wearers are not feminists, but because, well, I am really glad.
And of course, the cosmetic companies have done nothing but deny, deny, deny:
The Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association trade group said in a statement that lead was a naturally occurring element that was not intentionally added to cosmetics.
The FDA has “set strict limits for lead levels allowed in the colors used in lipsticks, and actually analyze most of these to ensure they are followed,” the association’s statement said. “The products identified in the (CSC) report meet these standards.”
L’Oreal’s U.S. arm said its products are reviewed and tested by a safety team that includes toxicologists, pharmacists and doctors.
“All the brands of the L’Oreal Group are in full compliance with FDA regulations” as well as safety requirements in international markets, L’Oreal USA said in a statement.
Yeah, the lead occurs naturally . . . and yet, 39% of lipstick didn’t have any lead. Funny how that works.
I encourage you to spread the word, but the sad thing is, how many women are going to stop wearing lipstick because of this study? I imagine extremely few. My mom is a lipstick fanatic — and mostly uses L’Oreal. I intend on telling her, but hardly expect a change. How many beauty magazines are going to even report the results, let alone stop actively recommending brands that have been found to contain dangerous substances? And what about all of those women who have a job where they are forced to wear makeup as part of “professional dress?”
And according to the Campaign For Safer Cosmetics, who has conducted this study, lipstick is far from being the only offender. In fact, other personal grooming products like shampoo, deodorant, etc. can also contain potentially harmful chemicals . . . and I don’t mean just for the environment. Also, “natural” doesn’t necessary mean “safe.” Unknown to me until this morning, the FDA does not have to review or approve the chemicals that go into personal care products. Not only do they not test the products, they also don’t monitor the effects of any commonly-used chemicals on users.
I try to use as many natural products as possible (a Burt’s Bees fanatic, here!), but reviewing all of the products I use, I’m far from out of the woods. The Campaign for Safer Cosmetics has a list of safer companies— most major cosmetic companies have refused to sign. Of course, the “safe” products also tend to be harder to find and more expensive, putting them out of reach for many women. But if you do insist on wearing — or have little choice but to wear — cosmetics, do your best to be safe about it.
UPDATE: The FDA has agreed to look into the lead claims. That will be interesting.