Yesterday's beauty news was old news. There's lead in lipstick. The Food and Drug Administration had a contractor test 400 lipsticks purchased from retail stores between February and July 2010. The selection of lipsticks tested was based on the parent company’s market share. The FDA also included some lipsticks from niche markets in an effort to capture lipsticks with unusual characteristics. The highest lead levels found were in the three parts per million (ppm) neighborhood, found in Maybelline, CoverGirl, Revlon, and L'Oreal lipsticks. Brands also showing trace levels of lead included Clinique, Dior, Estée Lauder, and M·A·C. The list is a virtual who's who of the cosmetics industry.
In the FAQs, they published additional, qualifying information...
The...survey found that the average lead concentration in the 400 lipsticks tested was 1.11 ppm, very close to the average of 1.07 ppm obtained in our initial survey. The results ranged from the detection limit of 0.026 ppm to the highest value of 7.19 ppm. For a table of the results, see FDA Analyses of Lead in Lipsticks – Expanded Survey. The expanded survey will be published in the May/June, 2012, issue of the Journal of Cosmetic Science.
Here's what the FDA had to say about their findings.
In response to a number of inquiries FDA has received regarding reports of lead contamination in lipstick, we have developed and validated a method for analyzing lead content in currently marketed lipstick. Our results do not show levels of lead in lipstick that would pose a safety concern.
This conclusion was based on the assumption that lipstick isn't ingested. Hello, out there, scientists...we eat our lipstick to some extent every day! "The FDA-recommended upper limit for lead in candy [which we ingest] is 0.1 ppm. It is not scientifically valid to equate the risk to consumers presented by lead levels in candy, a product intended for ingestion, with that associated with lead levels in lipstick, a product intended for topical use and ingested in much smaller quantities than candy." How much of our lipstick is ingested, FDA? Isn't that the critical question?