Metal On Your Lips: Recent Study Finds Various Metals In Lipstick

ellwood thompson's, food advocate, kirk schroder, richmond virginia

Metal On Your Lips: Recent Study Finds Various Metals In Lipstick

For more than five years, controversy has brewed over the level of lead in cosmetic lipstick. That controversy has been renewed with a recent study conducted by the University of California at Berkeley this summer indicating that not only is there lead in popular lipstick brands but a wide range also contain as many as eight other metals. This study and the overall issue is discussed in a column by New York Times reporter Deborah Blum at:

As Blum notes, the basic issue is how much metal (no matter how minute) is safe to use in a product used by millions of women and girls over the course of their lifetime? The Cosmetic industry has responded to the Berkeley study by reiterating its long time position that the traces of metals found in that study were in “vanishingly small amounts” so as to present no harm to lipstick users now or in the future. See According to an industry spokesperson there is more lead found in safe drinking water and in other aspects of the environment than the amount indicated in the Berkeley study.

This controversy started in October 2007 when the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC) tested 33 popular brands of lipstick and found that 61% of them contain a wide range of lead levels. Arguing that the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has “dragged its feet” CSC has noted that even the FDA found lead in hundreds of lipsticks with alarming higher levels than CSC’s original 2007 study.  The most current FDA list of lipstick brands tested with the corresponding level of lead can be found at

The FDA has recommended upper limit for lead in candy is 0.1ppm (I had no idea that candy had lead in it until I started researching this lipstick issue). See If you review that FDA site you will see that that agency is still “evaluating” this lipstick issue.

The CSC argues that no dose of lead is safe. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has an extensive paper on lead poisoning and how to take precautions. See  Blum’s column quotes experts that say the CDC acknowledges that no level of lead is safe. The recent Berkeley study complicates the issue because it now identifies the existence of more metals which may or may not present a safety issue in the long term. Natural food consumers beware.


Kirk Schroder / Food Advocate /