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Posts from — October 2007

Lead in Lipstick–Part III

So, we’ve established in the last two entries that 1)on any given day, in any given place, a tube of lipstick, cheap or expensive, may contain lead and that 2)there’s no way to be entirely certain that your lipstick is lead-free.

So, what to do?

Let’s go back to The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics for a call to action. Their report, A Poison Kiss, contains four suggestions:

  1. 1. Write or call L’Oreal (the worst offender): See the link below for a sample letter and L’Oreal contact information.
  2. Write a letter to the editor.
  3. Write your congressperson, governor, or state legislature.
  4. Spread the word. Let your friends and family know the truth about the lack of regulation of the cosmetics industry.

There is absolutely no reason for lipstick to contain lead (see the varieties and brands of lipstick that tested lead-free), so let’s demand a change.

October 17, 2007   No Comments

Lead in Lipstick — Part II

A Poisson Kiss

(Read the entry “Lead in Lipstick — Part I” for the intro to the story.)

So, we got the bad news today that our cherished red lipsticks contain lead. So what? What’s the problem?

At least that’s the response from L’Oreal Group, leader of the pack on the lead list (with no shades on the lead-free list). According to the Boston Globe, L’Oreal tells us not to worry:

“Each and every ingredient used in our products has been thoroughly reviewed and tested by our internal safety team made up of toxicologists, clinicians, pharmacists, and physicians,” the statement read. “All the brands of the L’Oreal Group are in full compliance with FDA regulations . . . and the requirements for safety in the more than 130 countries in which our products are sold.”

Sounds like a good answer: L’Oreal is “in full compliance with FDA regulations.” The problem: there are NO FDA regulations regarding the lead content of lipstick. A tube of lipstick could be 100% lead and technically not be in violation of any FDA regulation. (For further details see “A Poison Kiss–The Problem of Lead in Lipsticks,” the report published by The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.)

In healthy adults, low-level lead exposure is not considered harmful; however, lead in the body builds up over time, and in combination with other conditions, is certainly not good. As for children and pregnant women (lead passes through the placenta quite easily), there is no such thing as a safe amount of lead exposure.

The picture at the beginning of this entry (from “A Poision Kiss”) says it all.  If lead on toys is a danger to children, then how much more so is lead in lipstick.  Yet, no lipstick recall is pending.

So, what can we do?

I’ll summarize The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics’ call to action in my next entry.

October 13, 2007   No Comments

Lead in Lipstick — Part I

In the latest “Guess where we found lead lurking” news, The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has found that more than half of 33 brand-name lipsticks tested contained lead. One-third exceeded the FDA limit for lead in candy (0.1 parts per million), the standard established to prevent the ingesting of lead. As the average woman will ingest 4 pounds of lipstick over her lifetime, the candy standard for lead seems appropriate.The entire report, including the entire list of tested products, is available in PDF format at It is well worth the read.

The worst offenders 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
-Dior Addict “Positive Red” – 0.21 ppm

However, don’t ditch your Dior just yet: in the test, lead levels were not consistent across brand, shade, or price point. In fact, Dior “Replenishing Lip Color Red Premier” made the “good” list, with less than 0.02 parts per million of lead.

In a somewhat-good news/bad news/worse news scenario:

Good news: there are lipsticks at every price point with no detectable levels of lead.

Bad news: there is no way to determine the lead content of a lipstick based on brand or price.

Worse news: In several cases, multiple tubes of the same lipstick (brand and shade) showed significant variations in lead content from tube to tube.

Thus, you can’t even bank on a lipstick from the “good” list today being “good” tomorrow.

(Wonder why two tubes of what should be the same lipstick can have different amounts of lead? Safe Cosmetics speculates that this may be due to “different amounts of contamination taking place during contamination or different levels of lead contamination of the lipstick’s individual ingredients.”)

But is leaden lipstick really a problem?

See the next entry, “Lead in Lipstick — Part II”

October 12, 2007   No Comments