Thursday, September 24, 2009

Food for thought...

The average woman eats 4 to 9 pounds of lipstick
in her lifetime, that’s somewhere between 481 and 1083 tubes.

A study conducted back in 2004 found that 28% of lipsticks
contained cancer-causing chemicals. Modern lipsticks are formulated from upwards of 10,000 chemicals, 89% of which have never been tested for human safety.
Additionally, those who use lipstick for 3 days
increase their risk of developing lupus by 40%.

Lead in lipstick? Turns out, the ur­ban legend is true. In October 2007, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics tested 33 popular brands of lipsticks at an independent lab for lead content.
The results: 61 percent of lipsticks contained lead, with levels ranging up to 0.65 parts per million.
Lead-contaminated brands included L'Oreal, Cover Girl and even a $24 tube of Dior Addict.
In 2009, FDA released a follow-up study that found lead in all samples of lipstick it tested, at levels ranging from 0.09 to 3.06 ppm – levels four times higher than the levels found in the CSC study.

No Safe Dose
The recent science indicates there is no safe level of lead exposure. “Lead builds up in the body over time and lead-containing lipstick applied several times a day, every day, can add up to significant exposure levels. The latest studies show there is no safe level of lead exposure,” according to Mark Mitchell, M.D., MPH, president of the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice.
“Lead is a proven neurotoxin that can cause learning, language and behavioral problems such as lowered IQ, reduced school performance and increased aggression. Pregnant women and young children are particularly vulnerable to lead exposure, because lead easily crosses the placenta and enters the fetal brain where it can interfere with normal development,” according to Dr. Sean Palfrey, a professor of pediatrics and public health at Boston University and the medical director of Boston's Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.
“Since recent science suggests that there is truly no safe lead exposure for children and pregnant women, it is disturbing that manufacturers are allowed to continue to sell lead-containing lipsticks."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states: “No safe blood lead level has been identified.” The agency suggests avoiding all sources of lead exposure, including lead-containing cosmetics. (Read CDC's lead exposure prevention tips.)

Status Update
The FDA released a follow-up study in 2009 that found much higher levels of lead in lipstick than reported by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics in 2007.
A state bill to ban lead from lipstick passed the California Senate in 2008, but died after a massive industry lobby effort.

What You Can Do
Because lead is a contaminant not listed on lipstick ingredient labels, it's next to impossible for consumers to avoid. But don't let that dissuade you from doing something:
More Information Report: "A Poison Kiss: The Problem of Lead in Lipstick"

Science: Lead and other heavy metals

FAQs: Lead in lipstick

Laws: The FDA response to lead in lipstick

Press release: FDA Study: Lead Levels in Lipstick Much Higher than Previously Reported (Sept. 1, 2009)

Press release: FDA fails to protect public: Remains silent about lead in lipstick (Feb. 9, 2009)

Press release: Beauty industry lobbies to keep lead in lipstick (June 26, 2008)

Press release: New product tests find lead in lipstick (Oct. 11, 2007)

This article courtesy of, an incredibly informative site. Check it out!
Fun fact: Do you know what happens when inspectors nab lead-filled and unsafe products that don't meet European standards? They are sent for resale in the US! Perfectly legal.


  1. Very interesting. It is necessary to do something. Lucía

  2. That fun fact is CRAZY!!! This is a very good article May, thanks!! :) C

  3. I am a make-artist, does using these products effect your work. What foundations do you use?
    I am interested in using more natural make-up but couldn't imagine matural make-up photographing well.

  4. Thanks so much for writing. As a makeup artist myself, I can absolutely say that there are products out there that are as good or better than the standard toxic cosmetics that are used by the majority now.
    Yes, there are challenges. Yes, not ALL safe makeup is formulated as well as the standbys. Not all are camera friendly. Not all have staying power or depth of color or consistency in formulation.
    However, I can say the same of standard cosmetics. You wouldn't put just anything in your kit right now. You've come to build your arsenal based on what you have seen other artists use, by what is marketed as "professional", by what is know as traditional makeup artist brands, by what you have discovered works best for you personally.
    I simply had to start from the bottom up. Nobody else is doing what I am doing (none that I have found are doing it ENTIRELY, there are a few that are moving towards a greener beauty philosophy and I celebrate that evolution). I didn't have someone else's kit to look at and build from or message boards or forums or pulications to consult and compare notes with other's on.
    Over the last year building this business, I have spent literally thousands and thousands of dollars having products shipped to me I had never even heard of, much less tried. I started with ingredients. If something was clean, I would order it. Then came testing, checking formulations, colors, usability. Finally, does it work on camera? Does it hold up in life? Could I truly recommend these products to clients in the same way I would have recommended NARS or Smashbox or any number of other artist kit regulars in the past?
    In my kit now is a number of different brands. I am more than happy to share some of my discoveries with you. Please feel free to send me a note at and I'd be happy to recommend a few companies to look into.