Lead is a heavy metal — a soft malleable poor metal. At certain exposure levels, lead is a poisonous substance to animals and human beings. It damages the nervous system and causes brain and blood disorders. Like the element mercury, another heavy metal, lead is a neurotoxin that accumulates in soft tissues and bones. Lead poisoning has been documented from ancient Rome, ancient Greece, and ancient China. Some argue that lead poisoning of the upper class contributed to the downfall of the Roman Empire.
A new study from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found 400 brands of lipstick to contain lead.
While the FDA insists that the amounts detected do not pose safety risks to health, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics says federal regulators have no scientific basis for this conclusion. For years, the consumer group has been pushing the government to set limits for lead levels in lipstick which the government resisted.
Sarah Halzack reports for the Washington Post, Feb. 14, 2012, on the 10 brands and shades of lipstick which contain the most lead. 5 of the top 10 are made by Maybelline and L’Oreal, both owned by L’Oreal USA.
1. Maybelline’s Color Sensation in Pink Petal. (Lead content: 7.19 ppm)
2. L’Oreal Colour Riche in Volcanic. (Lead content: 7.00 ppm)
3. NARS Semi-Matte in Red Lizard. (Lead content: 4.93 ppm)
4. Cover Girl Queen Collection Vibrant Hues Color in Ruby Remix (Lead content: 4.92 ppm)
5. NARS Semi-Matte in Funny Face. (Lead content: 4.89)
6. L’Oreal Colour Rich in Tickled Pink. (Lead content: 4.45)
7. L’Oreal Intensely Moisturizing Lipcolor in Heroic. (Lead content: 4.41)
8. Cover Girl Continuous Color in Warm Brick. (Lead content: 4.28)
9. Maybelline Color Sensational in Mauve Me. (Lead content: 4.23)
10. Stargazer lipstick in shade “c.” (Lead content: 4.12)
A full analysis of all 400 varieties of lead-containing lipsticks is available here.