The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has found trace amounts of lead in 400 shades of popular lipstick. While these findings are not unheard of, the federal government did discover that the lead was detected at higher levels and in a larger variety of lipsticks than ever before. The top 10 most contaminated brands include lipsticks by L'Oreal, Maybelline, Cover Girl and NARS lipsticks.
The FDA insists that the levels of lead detected in lipstick pose no legitimate safety risk, but the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics maintains that there is no safe level of lead exposure. The consumer group has cited the analysis as another reason to encourage the government to set limits for lead levels in lipstick.
Lead builds up in the body over time, said Dr. Mark Mitchell of the National Medical Association in a Safe Cosmetics statement. Lead-containing lipstick applied several times a day, every day, can add up to significant exposure levels.
Maybelline Color Sensation by L'Oreal USA contained the highest lead concentration at 7.19 parts per million. The lipstick had more than 275 times the amount of lead found in the least contaminated, which also happened to be the least expensive: Wet & Wild Mega Mixers Lip Balm.
Lead is found in lipstick, as well as other cosmetics, because the color additives are mineral-based and contain trace amounts of the element. Although the FDA emphasizes that the lead levels in cosmetics poses no health risks, they are deliberating about establishing a maximum amount that make-up products can contain.