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Which Lipsticks Contain The Most Lead, Cadmium, Aluminum And Other Heavy Metals?

Many Women Say Lipstick Makes Them Feel Beautiful And Confident. But Could It Also Be Making Them Sick? Which Lipsticks Contain The Most Lead, Cadmium, Aluminum And Other Heavy Metals?

Which Lipsticks Contain The Most Lead, Cadmium, Aluminum And Other Heavy Metals? (#GotBitcoin?)

In a small study out last week, researchers asked a group of teenage girls to hand over their lipsticks and glosses and tested them for toxic metals, including lead and cadmium. 


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Though metal content varied widely from brand to brand, they found that women who apply lipstick two to three times daily can ingest a significant amount—20 percent of the daily amount that’s considered safe in drinking water or more—of aluminum, cadmium, chromium, and manganese.

Depending on the lipstick, in some cases women who slathered it on (14 times a day or more) were meeting or surpassing the daily recommended exposure to chromium, aluminum, and manganese. Lead, a metal that humans should avoid exposure to entirely, was detected in 75 percent of the samples.


Some of these chemicals are nasty: Cadmium, for example, is a carcinogen that has been found in breast cancer biopsies and shown to cause cancer cells to multiply in lab experiments. Metals are often used in mineral dyes, which give lipstick its pigment, and are also often found in soil and groundwater.

“Cadmium is a very common contaminant in soil,” says Sharima Rasanayagam, a scientist at the Breast Cancer Fund. “What’s concerning is that consumers don’t know they’re in the lipstick.”

Sonya Lunder, a scientist at the Environmental Working Group, sees it as a two-part issue. “The first question is, can these products be safely used by everyone? And the second is, if they’re just a contributor to this overall concern about metals and metal exposure, then what’s best?

How low can those levels go?” Lunder and others suggest that better disclosure, either from companies themselves or the government, would help consumers understand and limit their daily exposure.

Elevated lead levels in adults can lead to a host of health problems from miscarriages to seizures. Lead exposure among children can lead to permanent brain damage and, and as Kevin Drum investigated in Mother Jones’ January/February issue, possibly even crime.

Lipsticks with traces of lead included one made by Burt’s Bees, which is now owned by Clorox.

Studies have been finding lead in lipstick for years. The first major examination was in 2007 when the nonprofit Campaign for Safe Cosmetics tested a range of products and found lead in 61 percent of them, including Burt’s Bees tinted chapstick.

Burt’s, which is owned by Clorox, trades on selling “truly natural products that have a positive effect on both you and the world you live in.” (Burt’s has a statement on its website from the 2007 study that says, “We are meeting directly with our suppliers to find ways to identify, minimize and even eliminate trace elements of lead from our natural mineral sources.” 

The company didn’t respond toMother Jones’s request for more information about what they had done to eliminate the lead since the 2007 study came out.)

The FDA has conducted two follow-up studies, one in 2009 and one in 2012. Both studies found much more lead, up to 7.19 parts per million, in the lipstick samples tested. Here are the top 20 lead-containing lipsticks from the FDA’s 2012 review of 400 lipstick shades:Food And Drug Administration / Mother Jones

So shouldn’t the FDA do a better job curbing lead and metal content in lipstick? In short, yes. Though the agency regulates how much of these substances can be in pigment, strangely, it hasn’t specified how much metal overall is allowed in the tube of lipstick.

And the FDA itself doesn’t even test the dozens of dyes used in cosmetics or set the maximum amounts of metals in them; it outsourced that job years ago to the Cosmetic Ingredient Review, an organization established in 1976 by a cosmetics-industry-aligned trade and lobbying group. Over the years, the US has banned 22 chemicals outright. For comparison, the EU currently bans more than 1,300 chemicals.

Want to limit your heavy metal intake without giving up your lipstick? The FDA’s 2012 test found less than one part per million of lead in Wet n’ Wild, Bobbi Brown, and Shiseido brand lipsticks.

The Environmental Working Group also has a database with information on cosmetic products and the risky ingredients that could be in them, and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has a list of its favorite products online as well.

Lead-free Lipstick

It isn’t a pretty story. An ingredient so toxic it isn’t allowed in paint or gasoline may be lurking in your lipstick.

Lead. You know that stuff that had everyone freaked last Christmas because it was in those toys from China?That stuff. So, here’s The Daily Green to the rescue.

According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics’ widely hailed study, they found 11 popular lipsticks with no detectable levels of lead.

So why take the chance? These lipsticks are currently on the market, and there’s one at every price point. Keep your kisser … and those you kiss … safer with low toxin lipsticks.

Lead Free Lipstick – Without, No Lead Lipsticks

Now that most lipsticks contain lead, you might be seeking lead free lipsticks or lipsticks without lead. Of course, if you searched for lipsticks without or with no lead, you are bound to get many answers and the results recommending various products to you. This can cause confusion.

We did a comprehensive research on lead free lipsticks or lipsticks without lead in order to be able confidently to tell you that these are some of the lipsticks with no lead.

The only way to be certain that a certain lipstick does not contain lead is if it is made from only natural ingredients and the equipments used for making it do not contain lead.

Some of the lipsticks we found to be listed by many people as to be lead free lipsticksinclude the following:

  • Jane Iredale’s PureMoist LipColours
  • Gabriel Cosmetics’ ZuZu Luxe Lipstick
  • ILIA Pure Lip Care from Spirit Beauty Lounge
  • MUD’s Sheer Lipstick
  • Lavera’s Beautiful Lips Lipstick
  • Nvey Eco Advanced Care Lip Colour from Spirity Beauty Lounge
  • Afterglow Cosmetics– Lip Love Lipstick
  • Hygienics–Mineral Pure Lips

We cannot verify or confirm whether the above lead free lipsticks are real or not. We furthermore do not recommend any of the above lipsticks as lead free lipstick.

During the 2007 testing for lipsticks with lead, quite a number of products were found with lead. However, from those tested, the below lipsticks were found to be lead free.

Of course, time has passed and you cannot tell if the status is still the same. So what were some of the lead free lipsticks in 2007?

  • Avon Ultra Color Rich Cherry Jubilee
  • Body Shop Lip Colour Garnet
  • Clinique Long Last Lipstick Merlot
  • Dior Replenishing Lipcolor Red Premiere
  • Estee Lauder Maraschino
  • Revlon Superlustrous Love That Red
  • MAC Matte Lipstick Viva Glam 1
  • Revlon Superlustrous Bed of Roses
  • Revlon Colorstay Lipcolor Red Velvet
  • Tarte Inside Out Vitamin Lipstick
  • Wet N Wild Mega Colors Cherry Blossom

While focusing on lipsticks without lead, do not forget that lead is not the only dangerous chemical that could potentially be in lipsticks.

How To Test For Lead In Lipstick

If you want to know which lipsticks contain lead and those that are lead free, you need to test for the presence of lead. Although specialized testing requires accurate equipments such as mass spectrometers, you can still do simple tests to know if a certain lipstick brand has lead or it is lead free. So, how do you test for lead in lipsticks?

  • Clean the surface you want to use for testing for the presence of lead in lipsticks and let it dry. You can use the back of your hand, on a piece of fabric or paper.
  • Coat the surface you are using with the lipstick you are testing and rub gold, copper, pewter or sliver metal piece on your lipstick. Ensure you thoroughly rub it well.
  • Wait for a short while to see if the lipstick color will change due to lead that might be present in it.

If you notice a color change to almost black, darker or a discolored smear or streak, there are chances the lipstick could be containing lead. However, there are people who claim the above way to test for lead is not real or does not work.

Alternatively, instead of following the above steps used to test for lead in lipsticks, you can decide to go for a lead test kit. Each lead test kit comes with instructions to follow. Let us now look at the lead lipstick list according to FDA data released in 2010 after testing 400 lipstick brands.

Lead Lipstick List According To FDA 2010

We have looked at the details on led in lipsticks and led free lipstick brands. We want now to mention some of the lipsticks, which have been found to contain greater amounts of lead. This is according to data whose source is FDA testing of 400 lipsticks in 2010.

By looking at the above list of lipsticks with lead, you must be in a position to answer a few questions you initially had such as if there is lead in Avon lipsticksMaybellineL’OrealNARS, Sonia KashukRevlon and other leading brands.

It is unfortunate that Maybelline Color Sensational in “Pink Petal topped the list while L’Oreal Color Richer Volcanic was second. NARS, CoverGirl, Stargaze, Sonia Kashuk, Revlon and Burt’s Bees had at least a brand in the top lipsticks with lead.

You have seen some of the lipsticks that contain lead, you might be so afraid and maybe you will not want to use lipsticks at all. Indeed, you need to be afraid since lead is dangerous. Of course, you could always just make your own!


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Your Questions And Comments Are Greatly Appreciated.

Monty H. & Carolyn A.

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