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The FDA and Lead in Lipstick


After the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics released the 2007 report, "A Poison Kiss: The Problem of Lead in Lipstick," which found lead in popular lipstick brands, the FDA promised to conduct its own analysis of lead in lipstick. It took two years for the FDA to release its information to the public, despite pressure from U.S. Senators and repeated calls from health groups, including letters from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

The FDA published its long-awaited study on lead in lipstick in the July/August 2009 issue of the Journal of Cosmetic Science. The article was available for a fee only through the Journal's Web site, and the FDA would not name the brands of lipstick tested. Due to public pressure, FDA finally posted the study, including brands tested, on its own Web site in November 2009.

In 2011, the FDA released the results of an expanded study of 400 lipsticks. The agency found lead in most of the brands tested, and some of the most popular brands of lipstick contained lead levels far higher than previously reported. The most lead-contaminated lipstick in the study, Maybelline Color Sensation by L’Oreal USA, contained more than 10 times the highest amount of lead found in the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics lipstick study five years ago.

To date, the FDA has taken no action to protect consumers from unnecessary lead in cosmetics. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics continues to pressure FDA to set a maximum limit of lead in lipstick, based on the lowest lead levels manufacturers can feasibly achieve. The Campaign has also written to FDA asking them to correct misleading statements on their website about lead in lipstick.

Timeline of Contact with FDA:

February 2012: Campaign for Safe Cosmetics letter to FDA

January 2010: Campaign for Safe Cosmetics letter to FDA

November 2007: Senators urge FDA to set a safety standard for lead in lipstick