A program of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners

Don’t pucker up: lead in lipstick

Good Morning America
October 12, 2007

You might want to think twice before touching up your lipstick.

According to a new report, some lipsticks are contaminated with lead, from drugstore brands to designer labels.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics randomly purchased more than 30 lipsticks in four cities and sent them to a lab for lead testing. More than half came back with levels of lead.

“It’s unconscionable that women should have to worry about lead in lipstick,” said Stacy Malkan of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

The coalition’s report found that 20 of the 33 lipsticks it sent to be tested contained lead. Higher levels were found in products made by L’Oreal, Cover Girl and Christian Dior.

Because there is no federal standard for lead in cosmetics, the advocacy group used the Food and Drug Administration’s limits for lead in candy as a yardstick.

“We want the companies to immediately reformulate their products to get the lead out and … ultimately, really we need to change the laws and force these companies to be accountable to women’s health,” Malkan said.

But the trade group representing the cosmetics industry said the report is nothing new and, not surprisingly, the findings are not cause for worry.

“I think the levels are actually quite low — trace levels — really not something that would present a cause for concern,” said John Bailey of the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association.

Experts say pregnant women should be extra aware when it comes to lead-tainted products. “Lead is a proven neurotoxin. It can cause learning disabilities. It’s also linked to miscarriage and infertility,” Malkan said.

Bailey advises that all pregnant women consult their physician before choosing their cosmetics.

L’Oreal told ABC News that all its products are in compliance with FDA regulations and that it upholds the highest standards of safety for its customers. Proctor and Gamble, maker of Cover Girl, said that it stands behind the safety of its products and that all its products go through rigorous testing procedures.

LVMH, the company that makes Dior products, said it does not use lead products in its cosmetics. Trace amounts of lead exist in natural pigments, but the company considers those levels harmless.

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