Lead in Lipstick and the FDA
Do you want lead with your lipstick Madam?
The vexing question of just how much lead is in lipstick is revealed by an analyses conducted by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last year.
This page shows the lipsticks surveyed by the FDA and what their policy is with regard to lipstick ingredients.
The FDA analysis found lead in all the lipsticks tested.
Lead levels were consistently higher in brands made by three manufacturers: Procter & Gamble (Cover Girl brand), L'Oreal (L'Oreal, Body Shop and Maybelline brands) and Revlon.
The most lead-contaminated brand in the study, Cover Girl Incrediful Lip Color, had a lead level of 3.06 ppm - more than 30 times higher than the least contaminated brand.
FDA Analyses of Lead in Lipsticks
The following results for lead content in a selection of red lipsticks were obtained by scientists at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
One-third of the lipsticks exceeded the US Food and Drug Administration's accepted level of lead, 0.1 parts per million (ppm) for products that are ingested.
FDA purchased lipsticks from retail stores between October and December 2007.
Cover Girl Incrediful Lipcolor - Maximum Red 3.06 ppm
Revlon ColorStay Lipcolor - Red Velvet 2.91 ppm
Cover Girl Queen Collection - Ruby Remix 2.24 ppm
Body Shop Lip Colour - Garnet 1.79 ppm
Cover Girl Continuous Color - Cherry Brandy 1.76 ppm
L'Oreal Colour Riche - True Red 1.47 ppm
Revlon Super Lustrous - Bed of Roses 1.37 ppm
Maybelline Moisture Extreme – Cocoa Plum 1.21 ppm
Revlon Super Lustrous - Love That Red 1.04 ppm
L’Oreal Colour Riche - Classic Wine 0.79 ppm
Clinique Long Last – Paprika 0.48 ppm
Estee lauder Pure Color - Maraschino 0.43 ppm
Burt’s Bees Lip shimmer – Merlot 0.33 ppm
Maybelline Moisture Extreme – Midnight Red 0.23 ppm
Peacekeeper Paint Me – Compassionate 0.17 ppm
Dior Replenishing Lipcolor – Red Premiere 0.15 ppm
Dior Addict Ultra-Shine – Shiniest Sexiness 0.12 ppm
Mac Matte Lipstick – Viva Glam 0.09 ppm
Avon Ultra Color Rich – Cherry Jubilee 0.09 ppm
And Now for Those Policy Questions ...
Is there a safety concern about the lead found by FDA in lipsticks?
No. FDA has assessed the potential for harm to consumers from use of lipstick containing lead at the levels found in its testing. Lipstick, as a product intended for topical use, is only ingested incidentally and in very small quantities. FDA does not consider the lead levels that it found in the lipsticks to be a safety concern.
Does FDA intend to continue investigating lead in lipstick?
Yes. FDA does not believe that the lead content found in its recent lipstick analyses is a safety concern. However, the agency is planning to investigate a wider range of lipsticks than has been tested so far, including lipsticks similar to those recently assessed for lead content by another laboratory.
Does FDA approve cosmetics before they go on the market?
FDA's legal authority over cosmetics is different from other products regulated by the agency, such as drugs, biologics, and medical devices. Cosmetic products and ingredients are not subject to FDA premarket approval authority, with the exception of color additives.
Who is responsible for substantiating the safety of cosmetics?
Cosmetic firms are responsible for substantiating the safety of their products and ingredients before marketing.
Does FDA test cosmetics?
The FD&C Act does not subject cosmetics to FDA premarket approval in order to be marketed legally.
Must cosmetic manufacturers register with FDA?
Manufacturers are not required to register their cosmetic establishments, file data on ingredients, or report cosmetic-related injuries to FDA. However, companies are encouraged to register their establishments and file Cosmetic Product Ingredient Statements.