From the New York Times:
A Simple Smooch or a Toxic Smack?
By ABBY ELLIN
Published: May 27, 2009
THE debate seems to resurface every few years. Do some lipsticks contain lead? If so, is the amount so negligible that consumers have nothing to be concerned about? Or will all those years of applying lipstick several times a day add up to a worrisome accumulation of a dangerous substance?
On one side are advocacy groups and doctors who insist that, over time, those who wear lipstick containing lead are at risk of absorbing high levels of a neurotoxin that may cause behavioral, learning and other problems. On the other side are the Food and Drug Administration and outside experts who say that any traces of lead that do exist are too minute to cause harm.
In February, the debate reared its head again when the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition of health and environmental groups, issued a plea to the F.D.A. to release information the agency had accumulated on the amount of lead in lipstick. The study was conducted in response to an independent analysis in 2007, paid for by the safe cosmetics group, which found that one-third of 33 lipsticks had lead in excess of 0.1 parts per million, the federal limit for candy.
Among the worst offenders were L’Oreal Colour Riche “True Red” lipstick (with a lead content of 0.65 parts per million) and Cover Girl’s Incredifull Lipcolor “Maximum Red” (0.56 p.p.m.). Price had nothing to do with lead levels: less expensive brands, like a $1.99 tube of Wet and Wild Mega Colors “Cherry Blossom,” contained no lead, whereas a $24 tube of Dior Addict “Positive Red” contained 0.21 p.p.m.
In response to the study, L’Oreal said: “Each and every ingredient used in our products has been thoroughly reviewed and tested by our internal safety team made up of toxicologists, clinicians, pharmacists and physicians.” Parfums Christian Dior, which said it no longer makes the Positive Red shade, said, “we are confident that our products meet the highest standards and are entirely safe to be used by consumers every day.”
Cover Girl said, “Our perspective is that our cosmetics products meet the rigorous safety standards set by the U.S. F.D.A. and are safe.”
Stacy Malkan, a founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, said that lead is often present in the pigment of the reddest lipsticks. The campaign urged manufacturers to reformulate their products and called for the F.D.A. to set a safety standard for lead in lipstick. Last November, Senators John Kerry, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein asked the F.D.A. to do the same.
“The F.D.A. now says they are waiting for a peer-reviewed journal to publish their study of lead in lipstick,” Ms. Malkan said. “That could take years.”
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