Or is there? The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics said tests on 33 brand-name red lipsticks reveals that over 60 percent of them had detectable lead levels of 0.03 to 0.65 parts per million and more than 1/3 exceeded the U.S. FDA’s limit on candy, meaning the lipstick that gives a gal those kissable lips could actually be cutting down on her life span.
It’s critical that manufacturers reformulate their product,” said Stacy Malkan, a co-founder of the coalition. “It’s possible to make lipsticks without lead, and all companies should be doing that.”
Lead can cause learning, language and behavioral problems such as reduced school performance and increased aggression. Pregnant women and young children are particularly vulnerable to lead exposure, the group said in its statement. Lead has also been linked to infertility and miscarriage, it said.
From the CSC’s report (pdf):
Lead is a proven neurotoxin that can cause learning, language and behavioral problems such as lowered IQ, reduced school performance and increased aggression. Pregnant women and young children are particularly vulnerable to lead exposure because lead easily crosses the placenta and may enter the fetal brain, where it interferes with normal development. Lead has also been linked to miscarriage, reduced fertility in both men and women, hormonal changes, menstrual irregularities and delays in the onset of puberty. Lead builds up in the body over time and lead containing lipstick applied several times a day, every day, combined with lead in water and other sources, could add up to significant exposure levels.
And the worst offenders:
Among the highest lead?containing samples were:
• L’Oreal Colour Riche “True Red” – 0.65 ppm
• L’Oreal Colour Riche “Classic Wine” – 0.58 ppm
• Cover Girl Incredifull Lipcolor “Maximum Red” – 0.56 ppm
• Christian Dior Addict “Positive Red” – 0.21 ppm
“All the brands of the L’Oreal Group are in full compliance with FDA regulations” as well as safety requirements in international markets, L’Oreal USA said in a statement.
P&G said in a statement that the quantity of lead a consumer might be exposed to from its lip product “is hundreds of times less than the amount that she would get from eating, breathing and drinking water.”
That may be true; however, given what we know about lead poisoning and the fact that we’re just talking about lipstick here, shouldn’t a responsible company do what’s right by its customers?
Maybe. Companies have to balance safety issues with those of profitability. Since the FDA hasn’t set safety levels for this category of consumable, L’Oreal is probably correct in saying that they are within the letter of the law. In this case, however, I think the bad press will outweigh any marginal profits the companies might have earned by using lead in their products.
I am all for letting the market decide how important these issues are. For that to work, however, the facts have to be known to consumers. Transparency is a good thing, both in government and business because it puts information in the hands of those who need it: you and me.
Thanks to CSC we now know something L’Oreal would probably rather we didn’t and the world’s a slightly better place for it.