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  • Jemma

Lead in lipstick – should you be worried?

Updated: Apr 15, 2021

Lead in lipstick – one of the many toxic chemicals hidden in your makeup

Lead in lipstick

A good friend of mine recently mentioned how horrified she was to discover that her humble lipstick was contaminated with a learning and behavioural disorder-causing, hyperactivity-inducing, IQ-reducing, and sleep-disturbing heavy metal.

That’s right. I’m talking about lead.

Lead is not intentionally added as an ingredient in lipsticks, but it sneaks it’s way in there through the contamination of raw materials and pigments. Frustratingly, because the cosmetic industry is largely self-regulated, there is no limit or monitoring of the amount of lead that lipsticks can contain.

A frightening investigation published by the US FDA in 2012 revealed that out of 400 lipsticks tested, every one of them did indeed contain trace amounts of lead, with the highest level reaching 7.19 parts per million. This is 275 times the amount of lead found in the least contaminated one, and 70 times more than is safe to ingest!

Even worse is that the lipsticks found to contain the most lead are made by the hugely popular brands L’Oreal, Maybelline, Covergirl and NARS (I wonder how many 20 year old YouTube beauty gurus would be “SHOOK!” to hear this?)!

So what is the FDA’s standpoint on this?

Well, because lipstick is not intended to be ingested (but with names like Mulberry Burst I understand the temptation) they really don’t give a crap. It’s all too much effort. Because in the backwards system in which they operate, a chemical or ingredient needs unsurmountable evidence of it’s toxicity before it can be banned from cosmetics, and of course these studies cost money. Why not take a leaf out of the European Union’s book and act on precaution? They’ve banned over 1,300 chemicals while the US has banned… wait for it… 30. I’m sure everyone can agree that prevention is better than cure?

Rather than the problem being the ingestion of lead (and although women do ingest an amount of lipstick over their lifetime, I’m highly doubtful it’s as much as the 9 pounds suggested by TV personality Dr OZ), it is easily absorbed through the skin and membranes and can accumulate in the body.

Has all this info got you feeling a bit torn now?

Still clinging by a finger onto that Mac Velvet Teddy?

Personally, I’m not willing to give up my lipstick in a nice MLBB shade (that’s beauty guru speak for “my lips but better” #intheknow #stillyoungandcool), so here are a few of my faves from my personal collection! These brands all contain natural ingredients so not only are they free of lead, they’re also free of all those other nasties like parabens, petrolatum, synthetic fragrances and formaldehyde.

Lead in lipstick – not these ones!

  1. Mineral Fusion Lipstick in Nude – my MLBB! A mauve-y nude with a slight sheen (not as baby pink as it appears in the image). Mineral Fusion cosmetics are verified by the Environmental Working Group, meaning they comply with strict ingredient standards avoiding all those of concern, they have good manufacturing processes and full transparency of their ingredients on their labelling.

lead-free lipstick

2. 100% Pure Cocoa Butter Semi-Matte Lipstick in Aubergine – for the bold lip lovers. A deep, rich wine colour. 100% Pure cosmetics are just that – 100% pure. They obtain all their pigments from fruit, are completely non-toxic, cruelty free and their packaging is made from recycled plastic, paper, glass and soft-drink cans!

Lead-free lipstick

3. NU Evolution lipstick in Allure – the perfect, creamy nude. NU Evolution cosmetics are non-toxic, natural and organic, and have been designed with a sleekness and style that reflects the passion of their fashionista founders.

lead-free lipstick

So there you go! No need to give up that bold lip that makes you feel Extra AF! Why take the risk with conventional makeup brands when you can support those that are going the extra mile to protect the health and safety of their consumers with products that work just as well and contain ingredients that are actually good for you.

Looking to save some $$ on natural lip balm? I’m still going through my batch that I made this time last year! You can find the recipe here.

Jem xx

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