Lead Lurks in Lipsticks and Skin Whiteners

Dangerous Ingredients in Beauty Products




Recent research has found several heavy metals in numerous lipsticks and cosmetics. These include mercury and lead in skin-whitening creams, and chromium, cadmium and lead in lipsticks.

Scientists from the Loma Linda University School of Medicine and the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine tested 549 cosmetic skin-lightening products manufactured in 32 different countries. The products were purchased online and from stores in the U.S., China, Taiwan, Japan and Sri Lanka. Thirty-three of the products contained more than 1,000 parts per million (ppm) of lead, and 45 percent of them contained more than 10,000 ppm of lead. Of those purchased in the U.S., 3.3 percent had mercury levels greater than 1,000 ppm.

University of California scientists tested 24 lipsticks used frequently by teenagers and purchased at local stores. They found 75 percent contained lead and nearly half exceeded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) maximum acceptable concentration of lead for candy (0.1 ppm).

In 2010, the FDA tested 400 lipsticks and found lead in every sample tested—with concentrations ranging from 0.9 to 3.06 ppm. Other studies have confirmed similar findings.

They also found significant concentrations of chromium and cadmium among some of the samples. There are currently no concrete international or U.S. standards for safe levels of these heavy metals in cosmetics.

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