A Toxic Kiss?

by egndukwe on September 26, 2012

Fall is here, and besides the fact that the Midwest seemed a bit too eager to transition, it’s by far my favorite season. I love the automatic incorporations of any and everything pumpkin related. The fact that I can eat soups without looking foolish, the layering and bundling, the color of the trees. With every new season comes a change in women’s fashion, accessories and makeup techniques. Realbeauty.com proclaimed bold lips to be one of the makeup trends for this fall, highlighting some popular colors from New York Fashion Week. However, due to recent research publicizing the presence of lead in lipstick, some women may be thinking twice before reaching into their purses to touch up their new fall colors.

Some people think of lead exposure and immediately relate it to lead poisoning. Studies have shown that lead poisoning can have significant health effects by disrupting the normal functioning of organs. Particularly important is the fact that high amounts of lead can also affect the nervous system, which is especially of concern in children where elevated lead levels have been linked to the development of learning disabilities.

So with that in mind, can using a shade of tangerine lipstick (which Allure.com has deemed a must have color for Fall 2012) result in some of these harsh side effects? Judge rules: no. In 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tested the lead concentration of 400 lipsticks sold in the US. Published in 2011, the results found that on average, lipstick contained a lead concentration of 1.11 parts per million (ppm), with the highest value reaching 7.19 ppm. The report went on to specify that although the FDA does not officially regulate the amount of lead in cosmetics, they do regulate the concentration of lead in the color additives used in cosmetic production. The maximum lead concentration allowed for color additives is around 20ppm. To put this in perspective, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 established the maximum accepted lead concentration for children’s toys to be 100ppm.

As a result of their findings, the FDA maintains the position that,

Lipstick, as a product intended for topical use with limited absorption, is ingested only in very small quantities. We do not consider the lead levels we found in the lipstick to be a safety concern.

However, despite the low lead concentrations found in lipstick, some maintain the argument that any lead in lipstick is too much lead. My view? Everything in moderation. Personally, I don’t wear a lot of lipstick (I don’t like it getting in the way of my soup consumption). But knowing that lipstick does contain trace amounts of lead, I might consider other ways to incorporate the “it” colors for this fall into my wardrobe. Starting with scarves


Image obtained from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

White, LD; Cory-Slechta, DA; Gilbert, ME; Tiffany-Castiglioni, E; Zawia, NH; Virgolini, M; Rossi-George, A; Lasley, SM et al. (2007). “New and evolving concepts in the neurotoxicology of lead”. Toxicology and applied pharmacology 225 (1): 1–27.

Meyer, PA; McGeehin, MA; Falk, H (2003). “A global approach to childhood lead poisoning prevention”. International journal of hygiene and environmental health206 (4–5): 363–9.