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Popular Lipsticks Contain Dangerous Levels of Lead

Contact: 
(202) 667-6982
alex@ewg.org
For Immediate Release: 
Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Washington, DC – U.S. Food and Drug Administration researchers have detected lead in 400 brands of lipstick tested by the agency. At least two popular brands had amounts of the neurotoxin above the threshold the state of California considers safe in personal care products, which is 5 parts per million.

FDA’s new findings indicate that the problem is much more widespread among lipsticks sold to U.S. customers than the agency’s previous research had found.

“Millions of women get a little bit of toxic lead on their lips each day with every swipe of their lipstick,” said Jane Houlihan, senior VP for research at Environmental Working Group. “There is no safe level of lead exposure. The biggest concern is for pregnant women – lead is a potent neurotoxin and the fetus and very young children are most at risk. Some companies make lead-free lipsticks, and we think all companies should.”

On Tuesday, EWG signed a letter from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics to the government’s top cosmetics regulator, Linda Katz, M.D., M.P.H., director of FDA’s Office of Cosmetics and Colors. A copy of the Feb. 7, 2012 letter can be found here:

The letter to FDA’s Katz said:

“Your new analysis found lead levels in lipstick more than twice as high as your previous report. As in previous studies, certain manufacturers consistently have higher lead levels than other brands. The most-contaminated brand, Maybelline Color Sensation made by L’Oreal USA, had lead levels more than 275 times the level found in the least contaminated brands, and more than seven times higher than the average found in all the lipsticks. Clearly, some manufacturers could be doing more to protect women from unnecessary lead exposure.”