The Dangers of Lead in Lipstick
You would never lick a wall that has been covered in lead paint. Heck, you probably would wave your red flag of concern about living within lead paint walls. While we all seemingly share a general concern about lead exposure from paint, many women, not to mention government officials, seem to dismiss the fact that they might be coloring their lips with it everyday. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) firmly stands the ground that they do not “consider the lead levels found in the lipsticks to be a safety concern,” but common sense tells us that the cumulative exposure from applying lead to our lips, no matter what the levels, and letting it absorb into our blood stream cannot be safe.
In 2007, the Campaign For Safe Cosmetics published the study A Poison Kiss: The Problem of Lead in Lipstick, which first alerted consumers to the all too common problem of lead in lipstick. In 2011 the FDA conducted their own study of lipstick and not only confirmed the Campaign’s findings, but reported higher levels of lead throughout the lipsticks tested. However, the FDA argues that the lead levels found in the lipsticks are as expected in regards to “permitted color additives and other ingredients that had been prepared under good manufacturing practice conditions.”
The dangers of lead exposure can vary from developmental problems in children to cancer in adults. While it should register as a concern for everyone, pregnant women and young children are the two groups that should take particular caution against lead. From the earliest stage in the womb to age 6, kids are undergoing their most vulnerable developmental stages, which can be negatively affected by the presence of lead. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states, “no safe blood lead level has been identified,” and goes on to explain that, “even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect IQ, ability to pay attention, and academic achievement.” They warn that effects of lead exposure cannot be corrected, so it’s important to avoid all sources of lead exposure, including lead-containing cosmetics. Tellingly, the European Union is one step ahead of the CDC and has banned all lead in cosmetics.
But why is there lead in lipstick?
Good question! Lead is an unintended contaminant or impurity that can be present at low levels in some color additives and in other common ingredients, like water, that are used to produce cosmetics. Luckily for us, today’s cosmetics market boasts a plethora of non-toxic lip coloring options, like naturally occurring micas, which we use to color our B Glossy Lip Gloss and Lip Skinnies. Instead of water to add moisture to our products, we use organic oils and butters that do not have traces of lead.
How to shop for lead-free lipstick (and other cosmetics):
- Avoid products that use color additives like Yellow No. 5 or Red No. 30, and choose products that achieve color naturally with micas.
- Look for products that use organic oils and butters instead of water.
- Become familiar with the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, where you can find which lipsticks are considered toxic and which are not.
- Sign up for the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics’ newsletter or follow them on Facebook. They are a great source of information on the subject and we all know education is key!
We know this subject matter is bleak, but it's important information we believe that every woman should know. Not only for your health, but for all those you kiss, too.