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If you care about using safe cosmetics, you have probably heard about the presence of lead in many popular brands of lipstick.
Lead is present in the soil, air and water, and because of this, most lipsticks contain lead, even the natural and organic ones. Lead free lipsticks do not exist, but there are lipsticks out there with low levels of lead made by companies that are proactive, transparent and that carefully choose all their ingredients with their customer's safety in mind.
"Lead free lipsticks do not exist "
How it Started
The "lead in lipstick scare" started back in 2007, when the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics conducted a study on 33 different lipsticks and found that 61% of them contained lead with levels ranging up to 0.65 parts per million.
It took nearly two years of pressure from consumers and three US Senators for the FDA to conduct their own investigation on lead levels in lipstick. The follow-up study conducted in 2009 found lead in all lipstick samples with levels ranging from 0.09 to 3.06 ppm.
An expanded study preformed by the FDA in 2010 tested 400 different lipsticks and found average lead concentration levels of 1.11 ppm. The highest level found was 7.19 ppm ( in Maybelline’s Color Sensational Pink Petal lipstick). You can see the full list of tested lipsticks here.
Why Is Lead Bad?
Lead is a neurotoxin that builds up in the body. There is no safe level. Lead has been banned from use in paint and gasoline because of its disastrous effects on the body. Exposure to lead can cause learning and developmental problems, reduced fertility, and hormone changes. It is especially bad for children, because of their smaller size and rapid brain development.
Lipstick is ingested, every time you lick your lips, eat or drink. If we consider the multiple, daily application of lipsticks it is easy to see how small doses can add up to a significant amount.
The University of California researchers found that women apply lipstick 2 - 14 times a day. This translates into ingesting as much as 87 milligrams of product a day (source).
How Does Lead Get Into Lipstick?
Lead is not deliberately added to lipsticks. The pigments and minerals used to create color and shine often come contaminated with lead and other heavy metals.
Mica (used to add glitter and shine) can be contaminated with metals such as lead, manganese, chromium and aluminum. Strong lipstick colors tend to carry a bigger load of heavy metals because of contaminated pigments.
Not Just Lead
Lead isn't the only toxin that has been detected in lipsticks. A study by the University of California found 9 toxic heavy metals, including cadmium, aluminum, manganese, cobalt, copper, nickel, titanium and chromium in their test of 24 lip glosses and 8 lipsticks.
Aluminum and titanium dioxide are deliberately added to lipsticks, while the other heavy metals are present as contaminates. Aluminum is a added as a stabilizer that keeps colors from bleeding and titanium dioxide is used as a whitening agent.
What Does the FDA Say?
The FDA says that there is nothing to worry about, that the levels of lead are so low that there is no danger. The FDA has stated, " We do not consider the lead levels we found in the lipsticks to be a safety concern. The lead levels we found are within the limits recommended by other public health authorities for lead in cosmetics, including lipstick."
The FDA and the cosmetics industry fail to recognize the issue of cumulative exposure; small amounts add up over time. Considering the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that people avoid all sources of lead exposure, we consumers need to know how much lead is in our lipsticks, so that we can make an informed choice.
For now, there is no regulation on the amount of lead and other metals that can be included in lipstick formulas.
Health Organizations in Canada, Germany and the US are discussing acceptable trace lead levels for lipstick as 10 parts per million.
There are no Lead-Free Lipsticks
I would be wary of companies that claim their lipsticks are lead free, as this simply does not exist. Lead is present in mineral pigments.
We need to look for companies that are transparent about the fact that trace amounts of lead may be present in their base ingredients. We should support companies that work hard at minimizing the amount of lead present by testing and sourcing the best ingredients as well as testing the finished product.
There are safer lipsticks available from companies that strive to source the healthiest ingredients possible. Vapour Organic Beauty is one of them.
Safer Lipstick Brand - Vapour Organic Beauty
Vapour Organic Beauty's commitment is to educate their customers so they understand what is cause for concern and what is not. They take their ingredient sourcing very seriously and monitor each new mineral pigment they include in their palette to make sure the lead risk is negligible.
Vapour's test results indicate lead levels substantially under one part per million.
Vapour has gone above and beyond the issue of lead, and is the only cosmetics line that has gone to the lengths of using ONLY non-irradiated mineral pigments.
Pigments are tested by the FDA and batches of pigments are held in quarantine until they pass inspection. One of the things being tested for is the presence of bacteria. There are two ways to insure that a pigment is free from bacteria: radiation or exposure to high heat.
Vapour's co-founder and formulator, Kristine Keheley, prefers to use only non-irradiated, high heat treated pigments. She has done detailed research to source only non-irradiated pigments for Vapour. Being a two time breast cancer survivor, it has been her mission to provide all women with safe cosmetic choices.
Vapour Organic Beauty proudly stands by the fact that their products are safe for women with transparency as a top priority.
Lead is a concern, and rightly so. We want to keep our exposure to a minimum. When you ingest a small amount of lead from your lipstick, it accumulates in your body.
Lead is found in mineral pigments and is present in all lipsticks. The best decision a consumer can make is to buy lipstick from a company that is honest about this fact and strives to keep levels as low as possible.
To stay safe, it is recommended to only apply lipstick 2 - 3 times a day max, and to not let young children play with lipstick. Sourcing lipstick that is shown to be low in lead is best.
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Yours In Beauty,