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Your Lipstick May Be Bad for Your Health

by Amy Reiter on February 14, 2012 at 5:23 PM

lipstickAt this point we're all pretty accustomed to the feeling of being surrounded by health risks, but that doesn't mean that a new one -- from an unexpected source -- doesn't still have the power to unsettle and even shock us. Such may be the case with a new FDA report that 400 lipsticks (400 of them!), from leading brands such as L'Oreal, Maybelline, NARS, and Cover Girl, and many, many others, contain lead. (You can find the list here.)

The FDA maintains that the level of lead found in the lipsticks pose no safety risks, but a consumer group, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, has countered that any lead is too much lead. And that in fact of 33 red lipsticks it tested in 2007, most of which contained lead, one-third of them contained lead levels in excess of those allowed by the FDA for candy. Those results are pretty hard to swallow!

The consumer group is pushing for greater legislation of lead in cosmetics. At least some sectors of the medical community are backing it up, noting that the lead we can take in our lipstick can build up and cause problems over time. Perhaps not surprisingly, the cosmetics industry doesn't think there's a problem.

More from The Stir: Concerns Over Breast Cancer Should Make You Double-Check Your Cosmetics

Personally, I've never been a huge lipstick wearer, though I do like a bit of gloss now and then. Still, I find the idea that there might be lead in my lipstick hugely unsettling. Lead is clearly toxic, potentially creating problems in our nervous systems, our cells, our bones, our kidneys, our brains, our reproductive systems. High doses can affect development and behavior and do serious damage -- even, in extreme cases, killing us.

Do I want this poisonous substance in my lipstick? I do not! Lipstick is supposed to be fun and frivolous, not deadly. It's supposed to make us feel more vibrant and attractive. It's not supposed to kill us.

I know many of us are willing to put up with a lot for our beauty. But there are limits! If painting my lips red means painting my lips lead? I'll embrace the natural look, thank you very much.

What do you think of the FDA's lead-in-lipstick findings and its position that the levels found are perfectly safe?


Image via cerromijares/Flickr


  • ashjo85


    February 14, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    That's why I stick to Chapstick. Safer, cleaner, and definitely not risking that horrific red-rim-on-starbucks-cup fiasco.

  • corri...


    February 14, 2012 at 10:11 PM

    LOL ashjo85, love your "red-rim-on-starbucks-cup" thing.  God that drives me NUTZ!

    But, I don't know how I feel.  I'm not a big lipstick wearer either, but good lord!  Sure, lipstick isn't meant to be ingested, but guess what.....its on your lips and therefore its going to be ingested!!!  Those numbers don't look good either, compared to the candy levels :/.

    The sad thing is NO COSMETIC COMPANY IS SAFE according to the list!

  • Mommy...


    February 14, 2012 at 10:30 PM
    Why am I not even surprised... This is disgusting.
  • chris...


    February 15, 2012 at 8:56 AM

    ok, what about those of us who wear this stuff everyday. I would think over time even a little bit in the product could accumulate in our bodies if its worn all the time. Some have to look professional for thier careers and a little lipstick goes a long way for me to hide that tired pale look I seem to naturally have. This irritates me to no end that there are so many out there who don't care enough about what they put into consumer products.

  • mtnma...


    February 15, 2012 at 10:04 AM

    there's gluten in most lipsticks.. it was making me sick.. looking forward to purchasing a gluten free lipstick when I go back to work in a ciupke of months!!

  • mtnma...


    February 15, 2012 at 10:05 AM

    *couple grrr

  • Liber...
    -- Facebook comment from

    Liberty Herald

    February 15, 2012 at 10:06 AM
    this IS a bit frightening, how many of us have caught our toddlers playing with, or even eating our lipsticks!? It's not just ME I'm worried about.
  • Ehzot...


    February 15, 2012 at 10:27 AM

    So glad I don't wear make-up.

  • Rae...
    -- Facebook comment from

    Rae Smith Evans

    February 15, 2012 at 10:36 AM

    looks like its time to switch to bareMinerals.  I didn't see it on the list...I don't think.  Mary Kay needs to get their act in gear!  That is some scary stuff there.  This gives ALL new meaning to the phrase "Get the lead out!"



  • Melis...


    February 15, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    Just goes to show, we can't trust the companies. Be aware, my fellow makeup junkies. Be aware. I love lipstick but I rarely wear it because I live in such a dry climate, even "moisturizing" lipsticks don't cut it. So most days I just swipe on some chapstick or tinted lip balm and call it good. 

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