The Lead in Your Favorite Lipstick Is Even Worse Than You Think


Lead and other dangerous heavy metals are still finding their way into cosmetics, including easily consumed products like lipsticks, lip balms, and lip glosses, according to two new studies.

Reports Mother Jones:

In a small study out last week, researchers asked a group of teenage girls to hand over their lipsticks and glosses and tested them for toxic metals, including lead and cadmium. Though metal content varied widely from brand to brand, they found that women who apply lipstick two to three times daily can ingest a significant amount—20 percent of the daily amount that’s considered safe in drinking water or more—of aluminum, cadmium, chromium, and manganese. Depending on the lipstick, in some cases women who slathered it on (14 times a day or more) were meeting or surpassing the daily recommended exposure to chromium, aluminum, and manganese. Lead, a metal that humans should avoid exposure to entirely, was detected in 75 percent of the samples.

In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration tested 400 lipsticks for lead content. (We reported on the study at the time; the FDA’s full list of results is here if you wanna cntrl+F your shade.) The twenty lead-iest lip colors were as follows, according to this nifty graph Mother Jones put together:

The lipstick with the most lead, Maybelline Color Sensational in “Pink Petal,” had 7.19 parts per million of lead. There is no safe threshold for lead exposure. Any detectible amount of lead is too much lead to be in a lipstick.

What’s concerning — aside, of course, from the fact that there’s lead in lipsticks at all — is that the highest concentrations of lead appear in drugstore brands. Nars aside, this list is dominated by L’Oréal, Maybelline, Covergirl, and Revlon: the Big Four of the drugstore cosmetics aisle. (Two of those brands, it’s worth pointing out, are owned by the same parent company: Maybelline and L’Oréal are both part of the beauty giant L’Oréal.) Women’s risk from exposure to toxic chemicals shouldn’t rise as the cost of makeup falls — just because you don’t shop department-store brands shouldn’t mean you have to take your chances with lead and carcinogenic metals like cadmium.

Which 20 Lipsticks Contain The Most Lead? [Mother Jones]

Image via bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock.

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