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Lead in Lipstick: Health Hazard Or Not A Concern?

By Kathleen Doheny

Valentine’s Day 2012 and its kisses are history, but the lipstick debate continues.

Is the lead in lipstick a health hazard?

According to the FDA, lead in lipstick is not a concern. In its 2010 analysis of 400 lipsticks, the agency found no cause for alarm. On its website, the FDA states: “We do not consider the lead levels we found in the lipsticks to be a safety concern.”

The average lead concentration found was 1.11 parts per million. This is similar to the average 1.07 ppm found in an earlier survey. These levels, the FDA says, ”are within the limits recommended by other public health authorities for lead in cosmetics, including lipstick.” However, some lead levels were higher, more than 7 ppm.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, an advocacy group, has asked the FDA to set a maximum limit for lead in lipstick.

Currently, the FDA does not have a limit for lead in cosmetics. (There are specifications for lead in color additives used in cosmetics.) However, the FDA says it is now evaluating whether it should recommend an upper limit for lead in lipstick.

The FDA regulates cosmetic safety under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Cosmetics must ”be safe when used as directed in the labeling or under customary conditions of use.”

However, cosmetics companies do not have to gain premarket approval for their products.

Besides asking the FDA to regulate lead in lipsticks more tightly, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is also hosting a Kiss Lead Goodbye campaign. Consumers may submit videos and photos urging companies to reduce lead levels in lipsticks.

In the FDA analysis, the highest lead level was found in Maybelline’s Color Sensational Pink Petal, at 7.19 ppm. L’Oreal’s Colour Riche Volcanic was next, with 7 ppm.

More information is on the FDA site and at the Campaign’s site.


The opinions expressed in WebMD Second Opinion are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. Second Opinion are... Expand


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