There have long been rumors that lipstick contains lead, but since cosmetic producers are not mandated to release the ingredients of their products, this fact remained hidden for many years.
Back in 2007, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics sent 33 brands of lipstick to an independent lab for testing and found that 61% tested positive for up to 0.65 parts per million (ppm) of lead. What’s more, they found top-selling brands—including one that sold for $24—had the highest lead content! They reported their results to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and were promised an investigation.
It took the FDA two years and a letter from three U.S. Senators to conduct a follow-up study. They found lead in every brand that they tested. Some of the brands had four times more lead in them than the results from the 2007 study. Despite these findings, the FDA did not take any action to protect consumers. More recently, an expanded analysis found lead levels as high as 7.19 ppm. Even more surprising, five of the top 10 most heavily contaminated brands were made by one manufacturer, L'oreal USA. Why aren’t consumers being made aware that something as toxic as lead is being sold to apply to their lips? That’s a hard question to answer.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that there is "no safe blood level for lead.” Lead is a neurotoxin. It accumulates in the body and it can even cross the placenta to harm a developing fetus. That’s why the only effective strategy against heavy metal poisoning is to minimize your risk of lead exposure. The effects of lead are well-known and include lower IQ scores, behavioral problems, aggression, and learning (especially language) disabilities.
More recently, a study demonstrated that high levels of lead can also contribute to infertility. In this study — conducted by the National Institutes of Health — the researchers found that women and men with higher levels of the heavy metals lead and cadmium experienced a nearly 30% reduction in their chance of conceiving. Although their study considered cigarettes to be the primary source of exposure to these toxic metals, their study was completed before the high lead levels in lipstick were revealed. Be a smart consumer and check out your personal care products and cosmetics before you apply anything to your face or body. For more information about lipsticks in particular, visit this page at the Environmental Working Group site: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/browse/lipstick .
Robert Greene, M.D., FACOG, is a physician at the CNY Fertility Center in central New York and the author of Perfect Hormone Balance for Fertility, Perfect Hormone Balance for Pregnancy, and Happy Baby, Healthy Mom Pregnancy Journal. You can read Dr. Greene's blog, The Greene Guide, and follow him on Twitter. This post was first published recently on Dr. Greene's blog, and he kindly shared it with ConceiveOnline.com.