FDA takes the ‘lead’ in lipstick research


WASHINGTON —The long-standing debate over lead levels in lipstick once again reared its head as a new Food and Drug Administration study reaffirmed the safety of lipstick and found that trace levels of lead in lipstick is not a safety concern, the Personal Care Products Council announced in late August.

In an article published in the July/August edition of the Journal of Cosmetic Science, FDA scientists reported that they used a new method to analyze lipstick. They found that the lead levels—ranging from 0.09 ppm to 3.06 ppm—were safe and well below limits recommended by international regulatory and public health authorities.

The new FDA study was prompted by recurring allegations by the advocacy group Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, which alleged unsafe lead levels exist in a variety of lipsticks marketed in the United States. The FDA tested the lead content of the same selection of lipsticks evaluated by the CSC.

However, in a statement issued in response to the new FDA test, the CSC stated that the lead levels were “four times higher than the highest level reported in [2007] by CSC.”

According to the PCPC, lead never is used as an intentionally added ingredient in, or as an additive to, lipstick. Because lead is found naturally in air, water and soil, it also may be found at low levels as a trace contaminant in the raw ingredients used in formulating cosmetics, just as it is in many thousands of other products.

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