Heavy Metals in Your Lipstick

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Here we go again. Not only does lipstick contain lead, which I have reported on a couple times, but a new study by researchers at the University of California-Berkeley’s School of Public Health tested 32 commonly sold lipsticks and lip glosses and found they contain lead, cadmium, chromium, aluminum, and five other metals.

Not all the metals were at levels considered to be toxic (by the US government anyway, which isn’t saying much), but for the average user—who is considered to apply lipstick about 2 times daily—certain lipsticks could expose users to excessive amounts of chromium, and high use—considered to be as many as 14 times daily—could cause overexposure to aluminum, cadmium, and manganese. Lead levels were not as high in these tests, and I wonder if it’s because manufacturers specifically reduced lead after the previous media exposure about high lead in lipsticks.

“I don’t think people should panic,” stated S. Katharine Hammond, lead researcher. “But if you use it several times every day, you may want to think about it.” Her advice is to use lipstick less.

There are no US standards for metal levels in cosmetics. Compare that to the European Union, who does not accept cadmium, chromium, or lead at any level in cosmetics. Oh, we have a long way to go. In the meantime, next time you are deciding whether to wear makeup or go au natural, you know what to do.