The Health Risk Hiding in Most Lipstick Brands
Most women don’t leave home without applying lipstick, and many apply this cosmetic several times a day. As more research reveals these products contain trace amounts of toxic metals, some experts are voicing concern about their safety.
Previous studies show most lipsticks contain lead in at least tract amounts. Now, new research shows that a broad spectrum of brands have as many as eight additional metals, including traces of aluminum, cobalt, cadmium, titanium, nickel, copper, manganese and chromium. These were found in 8 lipstick brands and 24 lip glosses.
Although the contaminants are widespread, some lip products appear to have more than others. A European analysis found brown colors tended to have the highest amounts of lead, while a Saudi Arabian study found that darker, more intense colors had more lead than lighter colors. Furthermore, mica, a substance used to impart shine in lip gloss, routinely contains lead and other metals.
Some women apply lipstick as often as 20 times per day. But even those who apply it much fewer times are chronically exposed to these contaminants. Since the list of toxic metals found in this cosmetic is expanding, experts are asking questions about what happens when lipstick is swallowed or absorbed on a daily basis.
Just What Are the Health Risks Involved in Long-Term Exposure?
- Lead exposure can be quite dangerous, particularly for children and pregnant women. The metal can damage the unborn child’s brain and nervous system as well as cause headaches, learning problems and behavioral issues.
- Lead is associated with cancer and can harm an adults’ nervous system and reproductive organs.
- Exposure to cadmium has been associated with breast cancer and hearing loss in addition to liver, kidney, bone and lung disease.
Experts Warn Against Complacency
Katherine Hammond, lead author of the new analysis and professor of environmental health sciences at the University of California at Berkeley, says the issue is important because it involves long-term exposure rather than short-term. She is not saying people should panic, but she is warning against complacency because the metals are known to affect health.
The FDA and the cosmetics industry contend that the average lead level found in lipsticks, just over 1 part per million, does not present a health risk. But are they correct? Not according to Dr. Sean Palfrey, medical director of the lead poisoning prevention program at Boston University Medical Center, who points out that lead tends to accumulate in the body. Last year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that no level of lead is really safe, he notes.
Measures to Reduce Your Risk
Dr. Hammond advises against letting children play with lipstick, since they are at greater risk. She also recommends limiting its application to no more than two to three times per day.
Some natural cosmetic companies make lead-free lipstick. Although they may be somewhat costlier than brands sold in drugstores, the extra expense may be worth it.
Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at http://www.alternativemedicinetruth.com. Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.