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How Much Lead is in My Lipstick?

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How Much Lead is in My Lipstick?


Is there lead in your lipstick? The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released an analysis of the lead content in 400 lip products and the answer is a resounding yes. But does that mean we should throw out all of our tubes? Well, that’s a little more complicated.

While only two lipsticks tested contained more lead than California’s recommended limit of 5 parts-per-million and none exceed Canada’s recommendation of 10 parts-per-million, there is certainly still cause for concern. According to the Campaign For Safe Cosmetics,

“Many experts agree that there is no safe blood level of lead for children and pregnant women. Lead is a proven neurotoxin that can cause learning, language and behavioral problems such as lowered IQ, reduced school performance and increased aggression. Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to lead exposure, because lead easily crosses the placenta and enters the fetal brain where it can interfere with normal development.”

While health experts, including an advisory committee to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, agree that lead exposure is a serious problem, the FDA does not believe lipsticks are unsafe. The Campaign For Safe Cosmetics has cried foul to this statement, pointing out that “[the FDA] conducted a formal safety assessment of lead in lipstick” and thus can’t really safe for sure if they are safe or not.

Currently, the FDA does not regulate the the amount of lead in cosmetics. They are, however, considering implementing regulations.

So what lipsticks have the least and most amount of lead? The results aren’t divided along price or supposed “quality” lines. Interestingly, the cheapest lipstick the FDA analyzed had the lowest amount of lead.

Click through for the 10 lipsticks with least amount of lead and the 10 lipsticks with the most. If you don’t see your brand, click here for the full list 0f 400.

See Also: Pretty Without Poison (Video)

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Katie Waldeck

Katie is a freelance writer focused on pets, food and women’s issues. A Chicago native and longtime resident of the Pacific Northwest, Katie now lives in Oakland, California.


+ add your own
5:10AM PDT on Jun 23, 2012

Wow, something we need to be aware of ......and keep a close eye on what the companies do

8:14AM PDT on May 27, 2012

Thanks for the info

4:56AM PDT on Apr 13, 2012

Wow... I didnt know that but anyway, I dont use any of those brands mentioned anyway.

3:02AM PDT on Mar 12, 2012

I use an Avon brand and it was way low on the list of the 400. I don't think I will worry too much, since I only wear it a few times a week now.

6:21PM PST on Mar 2, 2012

Unfortunately not enough to kill you!

5:51AM PST on Mar 2, 2012

@ Sue - I find it quite sad that people actually believe such things about organic products! I hope the person who made that naive comment is following this discussion, otherwise they will never learn the truth!

8:14AM PST on Feb 21, 2012

"Buy organic, then you're guaranteed lead free"

This is a really important misunderstanding that really needs to be addressed.

No one is a bigger fan of USDA Certified Organic than me...but the lead issue has nothing to do with whether or not a product is organic. And in fact, organic cosmetics may actually (if tested) be higher in lead as the result of containing more agricultural ingredients. The lead is found in the ingredients used to color the lipsticks. It may also be found in other ingredients or from other causes -- but it is a fact that lead is in colorants. And it is not a secret. I have graphics here to document this:

3:30AM PST on Feb 17, 2012

Buy organic, then you're guaranteed lead free :-)

11:04AM PST on Feb 16, 2012

You can get your lipstick tested at PES Enviro. They even send you a kit for free in most cases. Check out If you doubt the integrity of your lipstick I would call them or send them an email this is pretty serious in my opinion...

10:59AM PST on Feb 16, 2012

You can get your lipstick tested at PES Enviro. They even send you a kit for free in most cases. Check out If you doubt the integrity of your lipstick I would call them or send them an email this is pretty serious in my opinion...

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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