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A Poisoned Kiss?

A Poisoned Kiss?


Ladies, as you know, lipstick is our ultimate weapon deployed to increase our confidence, sex appeal, and makes us feel good about ourselves. Lipsticks are considered one of the most important fashion accessories, easily changing and accentuating a woman’s look. The first reported use of lipstick goes all the way back to 3500 B.C. when the queen of ancient Sumeria used white lead blended with crushed red rocks to color her lips. Wait a minute, lead?

Today the average woman is said to have 20 different lipsticks at her disposal. If that’s true, then I am way behind! I also did some research on how many times per day the average woman applies lipstick and for an average user it is 2.35 times per day (for an average ingestion of 24 mg per day), but for heavy users lipstick application rises to up to 10 times per day. The heavy users ingested up to 87 mg per day (women in the 95th percentile).

Lipstick is one item of makeup that can and does wind up being eaten, merely by the lips’ sheer proximity to the mouth. I mean, there is a reason why lipstick and lip glosses need to be reapplied throughout the day. Usually my lipstick winds up on my teeth, but I guess that pretty much proves my point too.

Have you heard the beauty myth that women ingest 7 pounds of lipstick over her lifetime? I was not able to find any references on this and so I did some math. I assumed the average woman started using lipstick at 15 and stopped at 75. According to other resources, that may be too conservative as preteens are starting to use makeup. But for our purposes, I used a lifetime of 60 lipstick years and assumed all applied lipstick winds up being ingested, which is likely not the case (although some can also be absorbed through the skin), and calculated lifetime lipstick ingestion for the heavy users.

To wit:

87 mg x 365 x 60 years = 1,905,300 mg or 1905.3 g

= 1.9 kilogram =4.18 pounds over a lifetime.

So for the heavy users of lipstick, where 100% of the lipstick is eaten, the math works out to 4.18 pounds over a lifetime, which is clearly not the 7 pounds that gets bandied about over the internet. And I surmise that most women do not even ingest the 4 pounds of lipstick per year, due to the fact that they may not be heavy users, not even wear it everyday, or take the occasional lipstick holiday, which for me commenced immediately after having children.

But the problem with lipstick’s propensity for ingestion is that it can contain heavy metals such as lead. And lead is a neurotoxin which accumulates in the body and causes:

  • behavior problems
  • memory and cognition problems
  • cardiovasular disease
  • high blood pressure
  • kidney problems
  • fatigue
  • lowered IQ
  • brain fog
  • impaired concentration
  • impaired reaction times
  • irritability
  • headaches
  • peripheral neuropathy
  • depression and anxiety

The United States own Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found lead in 100% of all lipsticks tested. Don’t believe me? In an expanded study from 2010, they tested 400 lipsticks, the first ten results of which are listed below.

FDA Analyses of Lead in Lipsticks – Expanded Survey

The following results for lead content in 400 lipsticks were obtained by Frontier Global Sciences, Inc., under a contract with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The lipsticks were purchased from retail stores between February and July 2010.


Sample #

Brand

Parent company

Lipstick line
Shade #
Shade

Lot #a

Lead
(Pb)b
(ppm)

1

Maybelline

L’Oréal USA

Color Sensational
125
Pink Petal

FF205

7.19

2

L’Oréal

L’Oréal USA

Colour Riche
410
Volcanic

FE259

7.00

3

NARS

Shiseido

Semi-Matte
1005
Red Lizard

0KAW

4.93

4

Cover Girl Queen
Collection

Procter & Gamble

Vibrant Hues Color
Q580
Ruby Remix

9139

4.92

5

NARS

Shiseido

Semi-Matte
1009
Funny Face

9DLW

4.89

6

L’Oréal

L’Oréal USA

Colour Riche
165
Tickled Pink

FF224

4.45

7

L’Oréal

L’Oréal USA

Intensely Moisturizing Lipcolor
748
Heroic

FD306

4.41

8

Cover Girl

Procter & Gamble

Continuous Color
025
Warm Brick

9098

4.28

9

Maybelline

L’Oréal USA

Color Sensational
475
Mauve Me

FF201

4.23

10

Stargazer

Stargazer

Lipstick
103 c

180808

4.12

These are only the top ten lipsticks tested. You can see the entire list at Expanded FDA Lipstick Analysis. Check and see if you can find your lipstick and shade listed.

Lead levels are cumulative, and applying lead-containing cosmetics several times a day or every day, can potentially add up to significant exposure levels, especially with lip products that can and do wind up being ingested due to the unavoidability of having your lips touch the food you bite into, and being so close to your mouth.

According to the University of California study women apply lipstick from to 2-10 times a day. While a single application of lipstick will not make you ill, the fact that women not only apply it several times a day, and that they do this over a lifespan, results in this accumulation of lead. This same study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, found in addition to lead, chromium, cadmium, aluminum, and manganese, other heavy metals of concern, in the same lip products (eight lipsticks and 24 lip glosses) .

These heavy metals are not added intentionally to lip products through the manufacturing process, but instead are impurities or contaminants to the pigments used to add color. This means you will not find them listed anywhere on the label, making it impossible to know if your lipstick is safe. And when you ask the customer sales person of a lipstick or color makeup company, they are in no way trained to be able to answer the question thoughtfully or truthfully as they are so far removed from the mining/sourcing of the pigments that their raw material supplier used. And they will truthfully (and perhaps indignantly) say: “of course we don’t add lead to our products.” Lead is not added to products.

Pregnant and nursing mothers are a vulnerable population because lead passes through placenta and human milk and can affect the fetus’s or infant’s developments. Of particular note, lead is an environmental neurotoxicant known to interfere with brain development and the association between even low levels of lead in the blood of children and reduced IQ scores is robust.

According to the CDC:

“No safe blood lead level in children has been identified. Lead exposure can affect nearly every system in the body.”

What’s a girl to do? While there are lipstick manufacturers out there who claim to have clean and non-toxic lipsticks, it’s hard to know if it’s true without requesting a Certificate of Analysis for heavy metals.

Since kissing lipstick goodbye would not be good advice from one woman to another, here are some tips on safer lipstick choices.

Tips on Avoiding Lead and other heavy metals in lipstick:

  • Don’t use lipstick so much. Cut down on your applications. I often apply just coconut oil to my lips to keep them soft and moist, and skip the lipstick
  • Seek out clean lipsticks (Check out Bite Beauty and Red Apple Lipstick- I have not verified, but they claim to be lead-free and also gluten-free.)
  • Try your best to steer your children and pre-teens away from wearing lip products, or make sure they use clean products
  • Avoid kissing your babies when you have your best red lipstick on! The red lipsticks seem to have the most problem with lead.

Check out my new website at www.drannemariefine.com and send your comments to info@drannemariefine.com.

To your vibrant health,

Dr. Anne Marie Fine


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