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Lead in Lipstick – Follow up Study

Posted Aug 17 2012 2:01am

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As practically everyone in the industry knows, the subject of lead in lipstick has a been a hot topic over the last year or two.

The FDA doesn’t set specific lead levels for lipstick but they do set levels for the colors used in lipstick and they may contain no more than 20ppm lead. The FDA says that the levels of lead in finished lipstick products are consistent with use of color additives that have allowable levels of lead. They also say that the “The lead levels we found are within the limits recommended by other public health authorities for lead in cosmetics, including lipstick.”

There was, however, some debate over the data from previous tests that showed how much lead was in lipstick. So a new study was commissioned to test more brands (both in US and EU) using the FDA’s validated method. Those results have just been published in the May/June 2012 issue of the Journal of Cosmetic Science. Here are a couple of interesting tidbits from the study:

  • Average results from the study were very consistent with previous studies: on average lipsticks contain about 1 mg lead per kilogram of lipstick.
  • While the study did not identify which companies manufactured the tested lipsticks, it did note that one brand in particular contained more lead than the others. (Even this brand was still within safe limits however.)
  • The author found that certain shades contained more lead than others. Pink shades had the most lead followed by purple shades followed by red. The author theorized that the minerals used to lighten red shades may increase lead content.

This study appears to confirm that lead in lipstick is not a major health concern.

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“Determination of total lead in 400 lipsticks on the U.S. market using a validated microwave-assisted digestion, inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometric method,” Hepp.  Journal of Cosmetic Science, 2012, Vol 63

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