Space & Innovation

Your Lipstick Could Be Laced With Lead

Lipstick applied several times a day, every day, can add up to significant exposure levels.

If your Valentine wiped that lipstick smooch off his face, don't be offended: an FDA analysis shows that 400 shades of lipstick contain trace amounts of lead.

"Lead builds in the body over time, and lead-containing lipstick applied several times a day, every day, can add up to significant exposure levels," Mark Mitchell, co-chairman of the Environmental Health Task Force for the National Medical Association, said in the group's statement.

The FDA disagrees. The levels in lipstick are so tiny and ingested in such small amounts that they pose no health risk, the website says - as long as the product is used as intended. One area for concern may be small children who slather on lipstick for fun.

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It's not the first time concerns over lead in lipstick have been voiced: Since the '90s, advocacy groups have been campaigning for stricter limits. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics conducted its own test of 33 lipsticks in 2007 and found that two-thirds of them contained lead.

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Lead gets in lipstick through color additives. The worst offender in the most recent study was Maybelline's Pink Petal, at 7.19 parts per million. For comparison, the FDA limits lead to .1 part per million in candy. Wet'n' Wild's Bahama Mama had the least lead, at .026 parts per million. Don't want to take any chances? Some brands have tested lead-free.

Photo credit: Corbis