|Different Shades of Lipstick (Photo credit: ebbandflo_pomomama)|
As early as February 2013, the FDA posted a warning to consumers of the existence of trace amounts of lead in around 400 shades of lipstick that the government agency analyzed. Today, Discovery News reported of a small-scale research study on lipstick brands commonly sold in stores everywhere. According to the study, three-fourths of those lipsticks tested certainly contained lead with half of this group having levels of lead higher than the amount recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for candies that children often consume.
Researchers from the School of Public Health of the University of California, Berkeley conducted this study on 32 brands of lipstick identified by a small group of young Asian women who've been participating in the Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice (ACRJ) Youth Program in Oakland, California. The research team tested the lipstick samples for toxic levels of lead and eight other metals, including aluminum, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, manganese, nickel and titanium. Apart from posting a press release at the UC Berkeley website, the researchers also published the study's alarming results in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives on May 2.
Aside from the presence of lead in 75% of the samples, the study also revealed that regular use of the highly toxic lipstick brands for many years can increase the levels of chromium, cadmium, aluminum, and manganese absorbed into the body. Cadmium and chromium have been identified as carcinogens when allowed to remain in the body for a long time. Meanwhile, long-term exposure to manganese can cause neurological problems just like with lead.
The levels of toxicity aren't truly an immediate cause of concern for adults who often use these cosmetic products. However, small children and prepubescent kids who like to experiment with makeup, and those children who participate in beauty pageants face major health risks for lead poisoning and developing nerve diseases and cancer.
Conclusions of the Study: Cosmetics safety should be assessed not only by the presence of hazardous contents, but also by comparing estimated exposures with health based standards. In addition to lead, metals such as aluminum, cadmium, chromium and manganese require further investigation.