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Poisonous Lead In Your Lipstick? Probably.

Updated on October 16, 2009

The 'Lead In Your Lipstick Will Kill You' Email

There's an email circulating still which claims that lead in your lipstick will kill you and that you can test for it by rubbing a gold ring and whatnot. Don't waste your time, the test is utterly bogus and the results are caused by the agents, not any lead which may or may not be in your lipstick.

Back in the day, many high born Egyptian women and men went mad and died. Why? Because they succumbed to the mercury and lead in their make up. It was fairly sad, but then again, their civilization existed around 3500 BCE and largely involved pushing big rocks around. We can forgive them for not being knowledgeable about the effects of the ingredients in their make up on their health.

During the Renaissance, much more than art made a come back, so did lead! White lead was used to give ladies and gents of high station a sought after pale look. It also made many people sick and killed quite a few people too, but the focus of the Renaissance was beauty, and beauty was apparently worth dying for.

Humanity has evidence reaching back thousands of years that plastering your skin with lead based products is, on balance, a fairly bad idea. One would think that this information would have dissuaded modern cosmetics manufacturers from putting lead in their products, but if there's anything we can count on when it comes to mankind it is greed, vanity and stupidity being present in equal amounts. This confuses the issue greatly.

Now, the modern cosmetics industry claims that lead is present in lipstick only in 'trace' amounts and is of no cause for concern. Unfortunately, the human body does not metabolize lead and even trace amounts can build up over time. What's not certain is whether or not you'd have to eat tubes of lipstick daily in order for enough lead to build up to actually kill you.

Lead In Lipstick In The Media

Oh no! The Lead Will Kill Us All!

This 2007 article from CNN reports than independent tests showed that many leading lipstick brands tested positive for lead content. These brands included L'Oreal Colour Riche “True Red”, L'Oreal Colour Riche “Classic Wine”, CovberGirl Incredifull Lipcolor “Maximum Red” and Dior Addict “Positive Red”. In other words, dark and vibrant reds tended to have lead in them.

Okay, So How Much Lead Is Safe?

No lead is safe. Applying lead to your lips several times a day, several days a week, several weeks a month etc, is an excellent way to build up lead in your body and poison yourself. This type of exposure to lead is referred to as chronic poisoning.

The symptoms of lead poisoning include sore joints, chest pain, abdominal pain, mood swings, muscle tremors and weakness, hyperactivity, aggressiveness, irritability and more. Sleep loss, nausea, numbness, tingling in extremities, there is very little lead won't do to you. If you get enough of the stuff you can go into a coma and die.

The presence of lead in cosmetics is not only of concern to adults. Cheap children's cosmetics can also contain lead, which is a recipe for disaster when one considers the fact that children are much smaller and sensitive than adults.

How Do I Know If There Is Lead In My Lipstick?

If you wear a lot of deep red lipsticks, there's a chance that there is lead in your lipstick. On the whole, however, if you wear lipsticks which have conformed to FDA testing requirements, you should, in theory, be safe. If you commonly indulge in cheap imports which are not made to FDA standards, your health could be at risk

Here's an article to make you feel better:

Trace Amounts Of Lead Totally Okay


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      Nanciboy 8 years ago

      Hmmm, I wear L'Oreal but only in pinks.