Health & beauty

Lipstick Has A Heavy Metal Problem

A new study calls out potentially dangerous ingredients in lip products -- should you be worried?

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You probably put a swipe of lipstick on at least once a day. But did you ever think about what that lipstick might be doing to your body? A study in 2007 found that lead is present in tons of lipstick formulas. And even though its not illegal in the U.S., it is verboten overseas.

According to the FDA, the average amount of lead found in lipsticks is negligible. "Metals are ubiquitous," explained Linda Loretz, the chief toxicologist for the industry association Personal Care Products Council. And the amount in most lipstick "is very small, too small to be a safety issue."

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But! That's not necessarily true. Says Dr. Sean Palfrey of the lead poisoning prevention program at Boston Unviersity Medical Center. "The [Centers for Disease Control] acknowledged last year that no level of lead is really safe." And plus, there are other lipstick ingredients we should be watching out for. According to a new study from Dr. Katharine Hammond of the University of California at Berkely, published in Environmental Health Perspectives journal, consumers should also be concerned with other metals in their beauty products. Cadmium, cobalt, aluminum, titanium, manganese, chromium, copper and nickel were found in 24 lip glosses and 8 lipstick brands studied by the group.

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Where can you find these metals? Well, in glosses and sticks rich in mica, for one. Mica regularly contains elements like lead, manganese, chromium and aluminum. And aluminum is used in lipsticks to help stabilize the product.

What do these metals mean? Well, scientists still aren't sure, but they warn consumers to take precautions, particularly when it comes to keeping lipstick around children. "Treat it like something dangerous, because if they eat it we are taking about a comparatively large level of metals going into a small body," advises Hammond. And be smart about how much product you're applying each day. Too much shimmery lipgloss is never a good thing.

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