Two years ago, alerts hit the news about lead being present in lipsticks. Many reports appeared in newspapers and magazines, as well as many websites on the internet. These allegations caused great concern for users of lipsticks with regard to both health and safety, so investigations were launched that spawned scientific studies. Tests done on many brands of lipsticks revealed that the allegations were true. It was proven in laboratory testing that over thirty major brands of lipstick contained levels of lead and arsenic.
So what exactly are the dangers of lead in lipstick? Lead can be dangerous in even miniscule amounts. There really is no safe quantity when it comes to lead exposure. Lead acts as a neurotoxin, meaning it can cause brain-related problems, such as learning, language and behavioral issues. Lead has been directly associated with low IQs, diminished performance educationally and aggressive behavior. During pregnancy lead exposure can cause developmental problems for the fetus and put women at greater risk for miscarriage and infertility.
This is an easy problem to solve for the cosmetics and perfume and fragrance industry. Lipstick doesn't need lead in order to be made. Lipstick can easily be concocted without lead. Many companies claimed they needed to use lead in order to create certain shades of colors, but it simply is not true. Some lipsticks have always been lead-free and companies are still able to make shades such as vivid reds that companies using lead claim they can't make without lead inclusion. In all fairness, it is important to mention that several of the companies that produced lipsticks with lead did have some lead free shades as well. For instance, Avon's Ultra Color Rich Cherry Jubilee, or The Body Shop's Lip Color Garnet.
Lead is not listed as an ingredient in content labels on lipsticks, unfortunately. This makes it impossible for consumers to detect if their favorite shade contains lead or not. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said in 2007 it would test lead levels in lipsticks, but no data has yet been released to the public. In order to do your part to encourage companies to eliminate lead, call, write or email them about your concerns for yours and others health and safety.