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Study Finds Popular Cosmetics Contain Lead, Arsenic and Other Toxic Heavy Metals

Posted May 19 2011 2:28pm

Ten times the amount of lead and 20 times the amount of arsenic, that Health Canada deems safe, may be going in your mouth and absorbing in your skin every day from your favorite cosmetics.

A new study by Environmental Defence has revealed that toxic heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, mercury and cadmium has been found in popular cosmetic products; and none of these heavy metals were listed on the label.

The study tested the makeup bags of several Canadian women and included 5 foundations, 4 concealers, 4 powders, 5 blushes or bronzers, 7 mascaras, 2 eye liners, 14 eye shadows, and 8 lipsticks or glosses. The study focused on popular brands like Laura Mercier, MAC, L’Oreal, Mary Kay, and Sephora and found that 100% of the products contained nickel, 96% contained lead and 90% contained beryllium.

The heavy metals found in these products are categorized as “unintentional contaminants” and by law are not required to be listed on the labels. While individual exposures to small amounts of heavy metals are unlikely to cause harm, heavy metals can build up in the body over time and may increase risk for a variety of health problems.

If you’re using popular big brand name cosmetics on a daily basis, or more than once daily, you could be putting yourself at risk.

Doesn’t the government have laws to protect our health? No. Even though European countries have banned or restricted 1000s of toxic chemical substances, in Canada and the US cosmetic ingredients are virtually unregulated. Of the 80,000+ possible chemical ingredients found in cosmetics less then 10,000 have any associated health studies and of that only a few dozen are banned or restricted.

Why do popular big brand name cosmetics pose the highest risk? Large profit-driven corporations are run by boards and committees which can rarely see past short term quarterly gains. As a result they laden their products with heavy metals, toxic preservatives and synthetic chemicals because it’s cheaper, it’s legal and that means it’s good for business.

What can we do?

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