In December of 2011, the FDA quietly published their findings from a recent study of Lead in over 400 lipstick products. Hundreds of lipsticks were contaminated with lead.  The brand that had the highest levels of lead was Maybelline Color Sensation by L’Oreal USA. It was contaminated with 275 times the amount of lead found in the least contaminated product, which was Wet & Wild Mega Mixers Lip Balm. As you can see, this means that price is definitely not proof of better and safer manufacturing practices!

The FDA does not often recall products so it’s best you educate yourself and be your own advocate. Check out which lipsticks are high in lead and stay away from them! Here’s a great article from The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics: Hundreds of Lipsticks Contaminated with Lead, Reports New FDA Study

According to The Campaign for Safe Cosmetic’s lipstick study in 2007, 20 of the 33 lipsticks were contaminated and the top offenders were: L’Oreal Colour Riche, Cover Girl Incredifull Lipcolour, and Christian Dior Addict.

In 2009 the FDA released their first study and found 20 samples of red lipstick at  high lead levels of 3.06 ppm. A further analysis by the FDA of 400 lipsticks found levels up to 7.19 ppm, which is more than 70x higher than the FDA’s limit for lead in candy of 0.1 ppm, a limit to protect children from lead poisoning! Because we absorb what we put topically on our skin, it’s just as harmful to absorb it directly into your bloodstream as it is to ingest it orally. So why are there no “safe levels” defined for cosmetics by the FDA?! I quote, directly from the FDA’s website in their FAQ’s: “Has FDA set limits for lead in cosmetics? No, FDA has not set limits for lead in cosmetics”

What is lead?

A heavy metal that is in the carbon group. It is often used in building construction, making batteries, and bullets. It is a pliable malleable poor metal.

Why is Lead Harmful?

  • At high levels it is poisonous to humans and animals
  • Damages the nervous system
  • It is a neurotoxin (like mercury) that builds up in soft tissue and in the bones
  • Causes brain disorders
  • Lead builds up in the body over time
  • Pregnant women are particularly at risk because lead easily crosses the placenta and enters the fetal brain where it can affect development
  • Causes blood disorders in mammals

High levels of lead have been found in the following lipsticks:

  • Maybelline Color Sensation by L’Oreal 7.19 ppm
  • L’Oreal Colour Riche 7.00 ppm
  • Cover Girl Vibrant Queen Collection Vibrant Hues Color, Incredifull Lipcolour, Continuous Color 4.92 – 2.26 ppm
  • Christian Dior Addict
  • See full study results with the extensive list from the FDA’s 2007 and 2010 chart of results listing all brands and lead levels tested, it’s accessible, click here, and scroll down.