A new FDA study reports that lead was found in 400 kinds of lipstick. The fact that lead, a known neurotoxin, is in a common product that’s sold and used by women and girls in droves should concern all of us. And yet…concerns over toxic cosmetics is still sidelined by many as a concern for reactionary hippies who believe bunk research. We hope the FDA’s evidence that beauty products contain toxins like lead will get all women thinking harder about what they slather on their face and body.
The study found trace amounts of lead in 400 lipsticks commonly sold in drugstores (surprisingly, some of the cheapest brands were the least contaminated—who knew Wet N’ Wild would turn out to be the healthy choice in lipstick?). But despite the overwhelming number of lipsticks that contain lead, their conclusion seems to be that we need not worry—current guidelines require children’s products to contain less than 100 parts per million (ppm) of lead.
Still, many are skeptical, including the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, which has long argued for the government to set a higher bar for beauty products. They claim that there’s no safe level of lead in any product, so while the lipsticks are technically defined by the government as “safe” (at 7.19 ppm, Maybelline’s Color Sensational Pink Petal lipstick had the most lead of all tested), they’re urging the FDA to renegotiate their status.
Concern over toxic cosmetics is controversial: While many of us believe that it’s safest to avoid products containing toxic ingredients like lead, triclosan, and formaldehyde, others stick to the belief that if major studies can’t prove a correlation, we should stick with the traditional (and often cheaper) varieties of shampoo, lotion and soap. As many Blisstree commenters have noted, the best way to determine what you’re willing to use on your body is to do research for yourself; much like any other important health decision, what you buy and use is a personal choice. To find out more, check out our Keep It Clean guide to the top seven toxic ingredients to avoid in personal care products.