What You Need to Know About Lead in Lipstick

Lead in lipstick is in the news again, and the news just keeps getting worse. According to a new UC study, it’s not just lead we’re smearing on our faces each time we apply certain lipsticks, but aluminum, cadmium, chromium, and other toxic heavy metals too.

As I told Fox News, it’s no big surprise. I was part of the team that broke the story about lead in lipstick back in 2007. FDA followed with its own study and found even higher lead levels in hundreds of lipsticks.

For six years, the beauty companies have shrugged their shoulders and told us not to worry our pretty little heads.

I agree we shouldn’t worry. It’s time to get mad.

First of all, don’t tell us it’s just a little bit of lead. We don’t want to put lead on our lips in any amount. And besides, there is no safe level of lead exposure — even the lowest doses can harm the brains of children and developing fetuses.

littlegirllipstickAnd don’t tell us it’s not a problem because lipstick isn’t for kids. We know that little girls love it, and anyway, where do you think kids come from? From the bodies of women, millions of whom are wearing lead-tainted lipstick every day — and reapplying often.

And do not try to tell us it’s legal. That means nothing when there are no safety standards for cosmetics.

Obviously we need standards. Yet we’re still waiting for a response to this February 2012 letter  from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, and this request from a group of U.S. Senators who asked FDA to set safety standards for lead in cosmetics back in 2007.

As usual, the only way to get anything done around here is to do it ourselves. Are you with me? Here are my 5 best tips for avoiding lead in lipstick.

1. Don’t wear lipstick. Maybe not what you want to hear, but there’s no way to know which lipsticks contain lead unless you test them at a lab for $200 a pop.

2. Or at least wear less lipstick.

3. And definitely don’t let kids wear lipstick.

4. Ask your favorite lipstick manufacturer to convince you they’re doing everything they can to keep the heavy metals out of their products.

5. Demand safe products. Why are there no safety standards for cosmetics? The cosmetics laws in the U.S. are from 1938! But just two weeks ago, Congressional champs introduced the Safe Cosmetics Act into the US Congress.  Please support this important legislation right now by taking action here.

Let’s give the beauty industry a makeover!

Stacy Malkan is a co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and author of the award-winning book “Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry.” Contact her at stacy@safecosmetics.org and on twitter at @safecosmetics

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