Get the Lead Out (of Lipstick)

By Mia Davis

Get the Lead Out

Originally published at Crazy, Sexy, Life

Dear Cosmetics Industry: Please stop defending lead and other nasty chemicals in your products.  Love, Mia

A $25 tube of department store lipstick should be safe, right? You might assume it is safer than $2 drugstore brand. Not necessarily …

During the busy 2011 holiday season, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) quietly released its new data on 400 popular lipsticks sold in the U.S. These products are contaminated with widely varying levels of lead, including higher amounts than found in earlier studies.  Perhaps the cosmetics industry was dismayed to see that just in time for Valentine’s Day 2012, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics picked up the story and spread the word with their “Kiss Lead Goodbye” campaign. The consumer group is asking the worst offender and the FDA to get the lead out of lipstick, already.

The jury isn’t out on lead—it is toxic to the developing brain, even in small amounts, and it builds up in our bodies over time. That’s why we took it out of house paint and gasoline decades ago.  We have limits for the amount of lead allowed in drinking water and candy.  But in the stuff many, many women put on their lips several times a day, even while pregnant? Not so much.

Interestingly, the brand with the highest levels of lead also makes one of the lipsticks with the lowest levels in the FDA study. They are all over the map. But note: they can make lipstick with little-to-no lead. Vested interests have long defended lead in lipstick, saying that these are low levels, and compared to other exposures, these amounts are safe. But in January 2012, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention restated that there is no safe level of lead for children and pregnant women.

Haven’t we been through this already—big companies defending lead in lipstick, FDA doing nothing about it, and experts saying that there is no safe level, period? The point here is that there might be heavy metal exposures we can’t control in life, but apparently in lipstick, companies can get the levels really low. Yep, I’m definitely having déjà vu. And lately, haven’t there been other members of the cosmetics industry defending the use of chemicals known to harm humans, animals and/or the environment, like formaldehyde in baby shampoo and in hair straighteners?

So, Cosmetics Industry, I have a crazy idea: What if the you stopped wasting time and money declaring that lead in lipstick is safe, carcinogens in baby shampoo is nothing to worry about and formaldehyde in hair straighteners is okey dokey, and instead made sure that your products are free of (or have as little as possible) heavy metals and other toxins in the first place?  We see that you can do it! Oh, and you don’t need a focus group to see if women will choose lipstick with lead or without lead, if given the option. We’ll always pick the one without it.  (There—I just saved you some more money!)

I think that it is time that the cosmetic industry enter the 21st century and stop making excuses for negligent behavior.  I think we’re all worth it. Don’t you?

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Posted on March 16, 2012  | Filed Under Healthy, Safer Families and Communities | 1 Comment


One Response to “Get the Lead Out (of Lipstick)”

  1. Penny Egan on March 16th, 2012 12:48 pm

    Lead in lipstick was exposed to the public so long ago that it never occurred to me it was still in any lip products…
    Shame on all makeup manurfacturers who have not removed LEAD from lipstick or an other product…

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