In chemical testing on commonly used lipsticks and lip glosses, researchers found toxic metals at levels that could possibly lead to health problems.

For the study, published today (May 2) in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers measured levels of lead, aluminum, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, manganese, nickel and titanium in 32 kinds of lipstick and lip gloss commonly used by young Asian women in Oakland, Calif.

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Lead showed up in 75 percent of the samples, with half of those at concentrations exceeding the United States Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recommended maximum allowable level in candies that are consumed by young children. Levels of lead weren’t high enough to be of concern for adults, but children sometimes play with makeup, the researchers said, and no level of lead is considered safe for kids.

When the researchers looked at how much lipstick people tend to ingest during routine use, they found that regular application of some of the products would lead to excessive consumption of chromium, cadmium, aluminum and manganese.

Cadmium and chromium are known human carcinogens. Excessive exposure to manganese can cause neurological problems as can exposure to lead.

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The FDA does not regulate metals in cosmetic products. But, the new study suggests, maybe it should.

“Our study was small, using lip products that had been identified by young Asian women in Oakland,” said lead author Sa Liu, of the University of California, Berkeley, in a press release. “But, the lipsticks and lip glosses in our study are common brands available in stores everywhere. Based upon our findings, a larger, more thorough survey of lip products — and cosmetics in general — is warranted.”

Image credit: Corbis