Every day millions of women apply lipstick without a second thought. Lipstick is one of the most popular beauty items and many women, even those who do not use makeup on a regular basis, confess to owning at least one. But most of them contain dangerous chemicals.
In 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration conducted a test which detected lead in all 400 lipsticks tested, ranging from 0.9 to 3.06 ppm – which was four times higher than the levels observed in a study done by Campaign for Safe Cosmetics in 2007.
Average lipstick or lip gloss use exceeds daily intake guidelines for aluminum, cadmium, chromium and manganese. In some of the products tested, daily use meant that a woman would exceed chromium intake recommendations by 100 percent.
Heavy metals do not show up on ingredient labels but are found in a wide range of lipsticks - everything from affordable to high-end, luxury brands. Let’s take a closer look at the toxic ingredients that can have a potentially detrimental effect on the health of lipstick users.
No cosmetic company is going to list lead as one of the ingredients in their lipstick. However, many brands have been found to contain traces of lead which is a neurotoxin that causes learning and behavioural problems in users, hormonal and menstrual irregularities and delayed onset of puberty in teenagers.
Chromium is a heavy metal that is extremely dangerous especially when inhaled or ingested over a long period of time. It has been linked to lung cancer, reduced immunity, neurodegenerative diseases and premature senility. While it only occurs in small amounts in lipsticks, if applied regularly for a long time, it will eventually have a negative effect on the health of the user.
The body is able to expel extra amounts of manganese but constant exposure can lead to brain injury, learning disabilities and behavioural changes.
Cadmium is also found in batteries, platings, cigarettes and metal coatings. It is a human carcinogen and has been linked to bone and kidney dysfunction. Heavy metals do accumulate in the body over time and even low amounts can add up to big effects.
And unfortunately, there are no laws restricting the use of lipsticks and it is up to consumers to take the necessary precautions. So what can you do to protect yourself from heavy metal exposure from lip products?
- Try to use less. If you find yourself reapplying lipstick 12 times a day, consider cutting back.
- Don't let your children use lipstick, as their young bodies are especially vulnerable to toxic metals.
- And lastly, try to find a healthier alternative. There are new up and coming cosmetic brands on the market that make non-toxic makeup products.