July 9, 2011

Email Hoax or the Truth- Does Your Liptstick Contain Lead?

As of May 2003, an email hoax has been circulating through cyber world and claiming that lipsticks contain harmful amounts of lead. However, according to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, this rumor is anything but an urban legend. The campaign for safe cosmetics tested 33 popular brands of lipsticks in 2007 and the results were frighteningly conclusive-61% of the lipsticks had lead levels of .65 parts per million. To put this in perspective, there is no safe lead level for anyone-especially when it comes to children. When children are exposed to very low levels of lead, there is an association with neurodevelopmental deficits. Unfortunately, girls are exposed to this harmful heavy metal when they begin to experiment with makeup, and young toddlers are exposed when they innocently play with their mother’s lipstick. Even unborn children are at risk of being exposed to lead in lipstick because when pregnant women wear lead contaminated lipstick, it crosses the placenta. ABC news featured an article two years ago that suggested that pregnant women should be extra aware of lead contaminated products. The article goes on to say that pregnant women should actually consult with their doctors when deciding which cosmetic products to use. Why is there so much hype about lead?

Have we been Lead Astray?

Lead, a proven neurotoxin, builds up in the body over time and causes learning disorders, language and behavioral problems, a lower IQ, and it increases aggression. In pregnant women, it can lead to a miscarriage and future infertility. Cosmetic companies are aware of these toxicology reports, so why do they continue to add lead to their lipsticks?

Colorants used in lipsticks could contain lead or lead can enter into the product during the manufacturing process. Sometimes when products are made, the raw materials can combine with each other and produce a harmful by product such as lead. With regards to lipstick, zinc, titanium dioxide, mineral wax and paraffin’s, and mineral oil, when mixed together, could produce a byproduct such as lead. While this situation looks dire, there is hope.

Fortunately, there are lipstick brands on the market that do not contain lead. However, you will not find this information on the ingredients list. So before you buy a particular lipstick, it would be wise to call the lipstick company’s customer service line and ask if lead is in that product. In addition, it would be beneficial to tell the company’s rep that you would like a lead free lipstick and encourage your friends and family to do the same. Companies might start out on the wrong foot, but a jolt of negative consumer feedback, tends to put them back on the right track.

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