When it comes to potentially dangerous consumer products, one of the last things that may come to mind is lipstick, yet a recent study found that many samples randomly gathered from their owners tested positive for toxic metals, including lead and cadmium, which in small amounts can have an adverse effect on health.
Although researchers found traces of the lead, cadmium, chromium, aluminum, and manganese in all of the lipstick and lip gloss samples they tested, some contained levels high enough to pose a serious health risk if used frequently.
Researchers found that women who applied lipstick two or three times daily ingested a substantial amount of aluminum, cadmium, chromium, and manganese, about 20 percent of the limit considered safe for drinking water. Women who used lipstick 14 or more times daily met or exceeded the daily exposure limit for aluminum, chromium, and manganese.
Lead is so potentially harmful to human health that it should be avoided even in the slightest quantities, yet it was present in varying levels in 75 percent of the samples tested. In adults, lead can cause a spectrum of adverse health problems, including memory loss, decline in mental function, seizures, miscarriage, muscle weakness, and many others. In children, lead exposure be especially harmful, responsible for permanent mental and physical impairments and even death.
Cadmium, which is frequently found in children’s toys and jewelry imported from China, is a known carcinogen that aggressively promotes the growth of cancer cells. Other metals can be extremely harmful if ingested in quantities above the recommended daily limit.
According to a report in Mother Jones, the recent lipstick study echoes the findings of previous studies. In 2007, a Campaign for Safe Cosmetics study found lead in 61 percent of the products it tested, including Burt’s Bees tinted chapstick. Two follow-up studies conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2009 and 2012 found even more products with more lead.
If you’re wondering why the FDA doesn’t do a better job of regulating the levels of toxic metals in cosmetics, “it outsourced that job years ago to the Cosmetic Ingredient Review, an organization established in 1976 by a cosmetics-industry-aligned trade and lobbying group,” as Mother Jones explains.
To give a better idea of how the FDA and the cosmetics industry may be putting profits over health in the U.S. market, the U.S. has outright banned the use of 22 chemicals in cosmetics. By comparison, the European Union has banned more than 1,300 chemicals.