Does your lipstick contain lead?

I was exasperated to read that many lipsticks manufactured in the United States and used daily by millions of women contain surprisingly high levels of lead.  Considering lipstick is a makeup staple for us, this is simply alarming!

According to new product tests just released by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, 61% of the 33 brand-name lipsticks tested contained detectable levels of lead, with levels ranging from 0.03 to 0.65 parts per million (ppm).  One-third of the tested lipsticks actually exceeded the FDA guideline for lead in candy, 0.1 ppm, established to reduce lead exposure among children.

And it’s not just the cheap brands that were found to contain lead.  Among the leading brands found to contain lead were:
• 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
• Christian Dior Addict “Positive Red” – 0.21 ppm

Lead is a proven neurotoxin that can cause learning, language and behavioral problems such as lowered IQ, reduced school performance and increased aggression. It has also been linked to infertility and miscarriage.  So knowing this fact, why can’t cosmetics manufacturers make their lipsticks lead-free?

One-third of the lipsticks tested had no detectable amount of lead, so lead-free lipstick is possible. And, the amounts of lead in the lipsticks tested didn’t correlate with the price of the product, so we know that manufacturing lipstick without lead doesn’t break the bank.

So now you know why it’s better not to eat or kiss with your lipstick on.  And on the topic of lipstick, Doris shared an interesting and useful tip on buying lipstick in her blog Dorisgoshopping. 

“We are always lured to buy the latest lipstick colour in town. Before you respond to magazine’s review and recommendation, make sure you try on the colour and walk around for a while before deciding to purchase it. Lipstick colour looks different when it’s absorbed on the lips and lightings can alter the way you look too. This will avoid buying a lipstick that doesn’t look so great on you afterall.”

And I’m thinking: maybe we shouldn’t be buying that many lipsticks at all.


  1. Lia says:

    ah, is alarming, then how? is lead-free lipstick easily obtainable at our shores?

    Lia: Take a look at my new post.

  2. Doris says:

    I wonder if mineral lipstick or lip gloss is a safer alternative? Thanks for the mention, Sesame.

    Doris: They might be but some lip gloss have other harmful by products.

  3. Annyeong says:

    I heard it on the news too! Are there alternatives besides you know, lip gloss? ?

    Annyeong: Not all the brands have lead…only problem is we’re not too sure which. But if the colors aren’t too deep, then perhaps it’s safer.

  4. Peg says:

    Your data for lead content for some of the lipsticks, from the “Campaign for Safe Cosmetics” tests — is LOWER than the FDA tests done in 2007 and published in “The Journal of Cosmetic Science” in its July/August issue.

    The FDA report had L’Oreal’s “Riche True Red” at 1.47ppm and Cover Girl’s “Maximum Red” at a whopping 3.06ppm.

    Here’s the report’s URL:

    As you can see from the FDA report above, lead comes from the color additives, which are merely LIMITED, not banned, as well as from “any ingredient” — namely, ANY OTHER ingredient, whose content can be ANYTHING as long as it “does not cause the cosmetic to be adulterated or

  5. Peg says:

    BTW, “The Journal of Cosmetic Science” article was in its 2009 July/August issue.

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