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Lining Your Lips with Lead

Filed Under: Personal Care at 4:46 pm | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor

Over the past several months, you watched your child’s toy collection dwindle. Each recall brought one more toy-box removal. Elmo was tucked away, along with Dora, Sarge, Thomas and Barbie. Not even superheroes were safe, and Batman bit the dust.  You coped as best as you could, but books can only be reread so many times. Block towers are eventually abandoned with a final demolish, and Play-Doh platters quickly lose their appeal. So, you’ve taken a step you never thought you would. You have opened your closet doors. Your darling daughter is now clad in your favorite heels and frilly frock. Her eyes are shadowed, cheeks are rouged and it’s only a matter of seconds before her lips are colored. But, before she puckers, rethink what you’re doing, because there’s lead in there too.

Throughout September, red lipsticks, purchased in Boston, Hartford, San Francisco and Minneapolis, were tested for lead.  A startling 61 percent had detectable levels ranging from .03 parts per million (ppm) to .65. One-third had amounts exceeding the FDA’s lead-limit for candy, a product ingested similarly to lipstick. And, the most readily bought brands – Cover Girl, L’Oreal and Dior – were the most readily packed. However, none of them listed lead as an ingredient.  Manufacturers defended their products by proclaiming that the amount of lead absorbed from a layer of lipstick is less than that ingested through eating, breathing and drinking water. Technically, that might be true, but you should still be concerned.

Lipstick isn’t an occasional habit. When you line, you line often. You put on a layer in the morning. A few hours later the color has faded, having been worn away by the regular use of your moth, so you reapply. You do the same a little later on and periodically throughout the day. Each time you roll out the tube, you add more lead to your lips. This will accumulate in your body, building up until you have elevated levels in your blood stream. If the levels become too high, you may experience high blood pressure, infertility, irritability, nerve disorders, muscle and joint pain, or memory problems.  For your growing daughter, it could result in a diminished IQ, learning disabilities, stunted growth and even mental retardation. For your unborn child, receiving lead from your bloodstream, the effects could be deadly.  So, no matter how small the lead levels are, you want to avoid exposure. This can be done, cosmetically, by purchasing lead-free lipsticks, specifically organic lipsticks.

For a more detailed list of lead levels in various lipsticks, check out the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics’ full report  and take the poison out of your pucker.

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