FDA finds lead in 400 shades of lipstick
A model is reflected in a mirror as her lipstick is adjusted in the backstage of the Ferre' women's Fall-Winter 2010/2011 collection, part of the Milan Fashion Week, Friday, Feb. 26, 2010. (AP Photo/Alberto Pellaschiar)
Angela Mulholland, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, February 15, 2012 10:27AM EST
You might be applying more than a little colour when you next put on your lipstick.
A new analysis by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has found that 400 shades of lipstick from such well-known brands as L'Oreal and Cover Girl contain trace amounts of lead.
The worst offenders were Maybelline's Color Sensation in Pink Petal, which had 7.19 parts of lead per million (ppm). , L'Oreal Colour Riche in Volcanic had 7 ppm.
That's almost seven times the average level of 1.11 ppm found in the FDA tests. Several other brands, including Cover Girl and Nars had lead levels in the 4 to 5 ppm range. Here's the full list of the FDA's findings.
Still, all the lipsticks contained lead levels that the FDA insists are safe.
"Our results do not show levels of lead in lipstick that would pose a safety concern," the agency says on its website, where it posted the results back in December.
But some disagree.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has been pushing the U.S. government to set limits on lead in cosmetics. The group also wants the FDA to study whether there are dangers to having lead-containing lipstick applied to human lips, where the neurotoxin can enter the mouth and be swallowed.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics' Dr. Mark Mitchell says there are concerns about ingesting small amounts of lead over time.
"Lead builds up in the body over time and lead-containing lipstick applied several times a day, every day, can add up to significant exposure levels," he said in a statement.
The FDA says there is no need to be concerned.
"Lipstick, as a product intended for topical use with limited absorption, is ingested only in very small quantities," the agency says on its website.
"The lead levels we found are within the limits recommended by other public health authorities."
The Personal Care Products Council, the trade group that represents the cosmetics industry, also says there is no reason for concern.
Halyna Breslawec, the group's chief scientist, told The Washington Post that many of the colour additives in lipstick are mineral-based and therefore contain trace levels of lead that are found naturally in soil and water.
Just the same, she said her group would like the FDA to set a 10 ppm limit on lead in cosmetics
Here in Canada, Health Canada's Natural Health Products Directorate limits lead in products applied to the skin to 10 ppm
The FDA says it's considering establishing a limit.
"Although we do not believe that the lead content found in our recent lipstick analyses poses a safety concern, we are evaluating whether there may be a need to recommend an upper limit for lead in lipstick in order to further protect the health and welfare of consumers," the agency says.
In Canada, the amount of lead allowed in products depends on the product.
The Drinking Water Guidelines in Canada limit the lead content in water to 0.010 ppm of water, for example. In candy, the FDA has established an acceptable oral intake of lead impurities at 0.1 ppm, whereas in nutritional supplements, the limit is 10 ppm.
Paint, which once contained between 400,000 and 70,000 parts per million of lead, is currently allowed to have no more than 600 ppm in the U.S.