Could Your Favorite Lipstick Be Poisonous?

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Could Your Favorite Lipstick Be Poisonous? featured image
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If you’re constantly painting your pout with lipstick and gloss, we have some worrisome news. A recent analysis of the contents of these products might have you reaching for Chapstick instead. 

Researchers from the University of California, Berkley tested 32 different lipsticks and lip glosses that are commonly sold in drugstores and department stores only to find that they contained lead, cadmium, chromium, aluminum and five other metals—some of which were found at potentially toxic levels.

Don’t be too alarmed, this is not the first time metals have been found in cosmetics; past studies have found similar data. However, this time the levels were measured and compared to health guidelines. “Just finding these metals isn’t the issue; it’s the levels that matter,” says lead investigator S. Katharine Hammond, professor of environmental health sciences. “Some of the toxic metals are occurring at levels that could possibly have an effect in the long term.” Continued use of these products could result in overexpose to some of the metals, which could lead to health problems like stomach tumors and toxicity in the nervous system.

So what does this mean for you, the lipstick lover? No need to throw out your beloved tubes just yet, the authors say. However, considering the amount of metals found, they propose more involvement by health regulators since there are currently no U.S. standards for metal in cosmetics. In the European Union for instance, cadmium, chromium and lead are all unacceptable ingredients in cosmetic products, no matter the level.   

“I believe that the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) should pay attention to this,” says study lead author Sa Liu, a UC Berkeley researcher in environmental health sciences. “Our study was small…But, the lipsticks and lip glosses in our study are common brands available in stores everywhere. Based upon our findings, a larger, more thorough survey of lip products—and cosmetics in general—is warranted.”

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