Can your make-up harm your IQ? How 55per cent of lipstick contains traces of lead – and it could affect mental health

By  Sadie Whitelocks

PUBLISHED: 11:06 EST, 3  December 2012 |  UPDATED: 11:16 EST, 3 December 2012

A study involving 22 brands of lipstick found  that 55per cent contained trace amounts of lead.

Underwriters Laboratories revealed that 12 of  the lip products sampled tested positive for the toxic substance with the  highest levels at 3.22 parts per  million.

Commenting on the findings Dr Sean Palfrey,  medical director for the Boston Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, warned that  even low-level lead exposure poses a serious health risk and could affect mental  health.


Toxic kiss? A study involving 22 lipstick brands found  that 55per cent contained trace amounts of lead

He told GMA, which  commissioned the study: ‘What we know now  is that even the  lowest levels of lead can harm your IQ, your behavior, your  ability to  learn.’

Many anti-lead activists also stress the need to shield children and pregnant  women.

Dr Halyna Breslawec, chief scientist  for the  Personal Care Products Council, added: ‘If you  were serious about the public  health aspects of lead poisoning you would not be looking at  lipstick.

‘You would be looking at locations where  children live. Do they live near  hazardous waste dumps – are they chewing  lead-containing paint  fragments?’

Currently there are no standards set by the  Food and Drug Administration limiting levels in lipstick and it is up to  manufacturers to decide on the safety tests performed.

GMA declined to comment on which lipstick  brands  had been tested, but said that it had selected a range of colours from  department stores and drugstores in the U.S.

Lead is not  intentionally put in lipstick  but many color  additives are mineral-based and contain trace levels of  lead naturally found in  soil, water and air.

Janet Nudelman of the Campaign for Safe  Cosmetics, highlighted:  ‘Clearly the concerning part is that more than half of the lipsticks do contain lead, but half of them don’t,  proving  that it’s possible to manufacture a lipstick without lead.’

However the recent findings demonstrate that  progress is being made.

A 2010 study by the FDA found the highest  lead level in lipstick was 7 parts per million.

And another conducted earlier this year  revealed that 400 shades of popular  lipstick contained trace amounts of lead.

Lipsticks made by L’Oreal, Maybelline,Cover  Girl, NARS and Stargazer landed in the top ten, prompting the FDA to evaluate  whether it should recommend an upper limit.

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