Yikes!! Who Wants Lead Lips?

A runway look from Jill Stuart’s Fall ’07 collection

No, I’m not talking about the new dark-lip look that’s been spotted on runways from Olivier Theyskens to Jill Stuart to Tuleh….. Treehugger reported last Friday that new independent lab tests by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found that:

More than half of 33 top-brand lipsticks tested (61%) contained detectable levels of lead, with levels ranging from 0.03 to 0.65 parts per million (ppm). One-third of the lipsticks exceeded the 0.1 ppm FDA lead limit for candy – a standard established to protect children from directly ingesting lead. Among the brands tested found to have the highest lead levels were L’Oreal, Cover Girl and Christian Dior – showing that the more expensive brands are no safer than drugstore brands.

And in case you think a little lead can’t do much damage (bolding mine):

The most recent scientific studies indicate that there is no safe level of lead – no amount of exposure is without harm. Lead is a proven neurotoxin that can cause learning, language and behavioral problems. Lead is also linked to infertility and miscarriage. Pregnant women and young children are particularly vulnerable to exposure because lead easily crosses the placenta and enters the fetal brain, where it interferes with normal development. Lead does not break down in the body, but builds up over a lifetime of exposures.

Check out a piece I recently wrote for The Daily Green for a run-down of all sorts of gorgeous, organic lipsticks. After all….

When it doesn’t end up on the edge of a glass or wiped off on a napkin, where do you think it goes? While you might not look at your tube of lipstick and imagine biting it off and swallowing it, that’s basically what happens over time. If I’m essentially eating my lipstick, I want it to be composed of natural and organic ingredients, just like my food.

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About Starre Vartan
Starre Vartan is editor-in-chief of Eco-Chick.com and the author of the Eco-Chick Guide to Life.


  1. The Egyptians and other ancient societies used lots of heavy metals for adornment. One would think we’d learn!

  2. This post is so topical right now you have a real point, a much needed awareness is developing in more mainstream veins about care from the environment and yourself. Especially women, filling their bodies full of chemicals in the name of beauty. The new company coming to London soon is the ‘Butter’ company, selling nail varnishes that are free of formaldehyde and other nasty cancer causing chemicals. I think this is the way forward. If it can be done by one company then why aren’t other companies pulling out their finger to develop healthier alternatives.

  3. I blogged about manmade chems in beauty products at WIMN’s Voices the other day. (See http://www.wimnonline.org/WIMNsVoicesBlog/?p=839). As it turns out, the safe cosmetics movement is really stepping up — there’s even a Teens for Safe Cosmetics (see http://www.searchforthecause.org/

    I’ve started an exciting project in which Eco-Chick readers may want to participate. It’s called The Face of No Make-Up (at http://nomake-up.blogspot.com) and its goal is to provide a photo gallery of women wearing only their natural faces. Its goal: to get the world used to seeing us as we are, and prove that “Make-up is optional and beauty is in the eye of the beholder!” There’s nothing wrong with wearing safe cosmetics, but going barefaced at least some of the time is another great option!

    Women of all ages, races and ethnicities are encouraged to mail a photo of themselves (include first name and age) to: [email protected]. Subject line: Face of No Make-Up. Would love to see your mug up there too, Starre!

  4. OMG!! I’m all about it. I actually have way more pictures of me without makeup than with…I had to do a whole photoshoot recently to get some good shots of me since I needed some pix for promotional stuff for my book that’s coming out. But I’d love to support your project. I think we should be able to glam it up with red lips some days and go au natural some times too. One should never feel one HAS to wear makeup!

    Thanks Miranda…I’ll send a pic and do a post on the project at some point in the next weeks. Love it.

  5. First, kids dying from lead in toys. Now, they find high levels of lead in lipsticks. What’s next – lead in food? Are women going to start dying now too from using lipstick too much?


    There’s a detailed report about it at http://www.myproductalert.com/lead-in-lipsticks.html

  6. i read somewhere that i can test my lipsticks and makeup for heavy lead content by running a gold ring on them (back and forth on a smudge on the palm) until they either turn gray (with lead) or remain in original color (no lead). i have used revlon’s tender peace compact creme for years now and was dismayed to discover for myself that it turned very grey after repeated testings. since i have exhibited various neurologic distresses over the years, i recokened i need to add this particular makeup in my list of “avoids” just to play it safe-r.

    maybelline’s creme mousse blush on in the bottle vial also tested positive.

    i noticed that oome o my fpowder cosmetiques dont test positive.

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