Is There Lead in Your Lipstick?

I really think this is old news. In fact, I read about it years ago. Yet here it is, resurfacing on the news, on urban legend websites, and all over the web. There is lead in your lipstick. Most recently, local news stations have been abuzz with the latest details of the worst lipstick offenders, including Maybelline, L’Oreal, and NARS, just to name a few. Maybe you’ve frantically checked to see if your favorite lipstick is on the list?

I’m certainly all for being green, for avoiding unnecessary chemicals, and for keeping my body as healthy and safe as possible. But truth be told, I’m not an alarmist, so I refuse to freak out about a little lead in my lipstick, at least for now. But I did take the time to look it up. You can find the chart here or at

What did I find? I was surprised to find that Burt’s Bees was included in the list, as they claim to be natural and healthful. I was also surprised to see many Mary Kay Cosmetics brand lipsticks on the list, as they were once the brand to go to when you wanted to avoid the lipstick-lead scandal.

But how dangerous is it really? According to the FDA’s website, they don’t actually regulate the amount of lead in lipstick. What they actually regulate is the amount of lead that goes into the color additives that goes into your lipstick. Health and safety advocates will say that there is no ‘safe’ level of lead, especially when it comes to children and pregnant women. However, the FDA explains that the levels found in these lipsticks are too low to be of a concern. In fact, the FDA allows lead in amounts up to 20 parts per million in color additives. The lipsticks on the infamous lead lipstick list maxed out at a mere 7.19 parts per million. While the FDA states that they believe there is no safety concern, they are evaluating the need for a new limit.

What does this mean for the rest of us? It’s really a personal decision whether you feel comfortable continuing to wear lipstick if you know it has lead in it. While you don’t intentionally ingest lipstick, if you apply it to your lips you will inadvertently ingest it every time you eat or drink. My suggestion is that if you have any concerns at all, stick to the lipsticks with the lowest level of lead. In this case, it’s Mega Mixers Lip Balm in Bahama Mama by Wet ‘n Wild. Proving that the most expensive lipstick isn’t always the best.

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