Okay, so here’s the scoop, if you wear lipstick and you’re not actively seeking out safer alternatives, I can almost assure you that you’re rubbing lead on your lips.
Sorry. Let me back up a minute, just real quick.
There’s overwhelming evidence that there’s lead in our lipstick:
Basically nobody is even contesting that fact – doesn’t matter if it’s the cheap, C.V.S. lipstick or Y.S.L. The only thing people are contesting is what a ‘safe’ level of lead exposure is.
What the … ? IS there a safe level of lead exposure?
Pretty sure we’ve all heard about eating paint chips as a kid. It’s not really a joke, though. Lead causes some serious business in our bodies when we’re exposed to it, especially for pregnant women and children.
From the NRDC:
“Lead is devastating to the human body, inhibiting oxygen and calcium transport and altering nerve transmission in the brain. Most lead poisoning occurs when people swallow lead paint chips or breathe in lead dust. The lead builds up in soft tissue — kidneys, bone marrow, liver, and brain — as well as bones and teeth. “
Is this not kind of scary? And the F.D.A. is basically saying ‘Oh you’re good. It’s a negligible amount and you don’t ingest lipstick anyway so…’
Umm, I hate you, F.D.A.
1. Do you know how often women apply lipstick?
I’d argue at least five, maybe ten times a day. I wish there was a study or something done to prove this. Oh wait, there was: “For example, in the University of California study, researchers found women applied lipstick from two to 14 times every day. In terms of chemical exposure, that translates into ingesting or absorbing as much as 87 milligrams of product a day.”
So right there, you’re applying lipstick up to 14 times per day for weeks, years, decades! A negligible amount can definitely add up.
2. I’m sorry, you don’t ingest lipstick? It’s on your lips!
Every time you lick them, drink something, speak, or just get the damn stuff on that one front tooth, you’re ingesting lipstick. Plus, you do ingest substances that are rubbed on your skin. Are you serious, F.D.A?
OK so we’ve just concluded that 1. there is probably lead in your lipstick, 2. lead is a seriously scary substance to be messing around with, and 3. the F.D.A.’s argument is not that it’s ‘safe’, it’s that it’s no biggie because it’s not that much and you’re not directly ingesting it.
I think we’re overlooking something important here, though. One big question comes to mind for me. Why are they even putting lead in our lipstick to begin with?
It turns out, lead is what helps lipstick stick to our lips. So that whole ‘super-long-lasting’ bit is what you want to avoid the most.
My guess (and this is 100% opinion based, I have no evidence to back it up) is that it’s the cheapest ingredient they can use to make lipstick stay on, and since they don’t even have to disclose to us that they’re using it, they just continue to do so. It makes sense for their bottom line. They, being cosmetic companies.
And I think we can all agree that, historically speaking, corporate profits have usually won out over consumer health.
Here’s the good news…
Just like with parabens and phthalates, there is virtually no reason any of us need to keep using lipstick with lead in it. Even if we can’t get enough of that perfect, red lip, which Bridget and I LOVE, we have options, good ones.
Here are a few brands trying to make this right:
Our favorite, Beautycounter
It seems to me that there’s something off about this lead business. And common sense makes me feel like I should avoid rubbing it directly onto my lips.
What do YOU think? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below. And if you liked this post, please share it with your lady friends on Facebook.
And if you’d like to get started learning a bit more about using safer products, pop your email in below. We’d LOVE to send you our FREE guide to the ingredients to watch out for!
Also published on Medium.