New Study Shows Lead Found In Over 55% of Lipsticks

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I often talk about how lots of  beauty products contain ingredients that may be very harmful to your health. You can work hard to increase your beauty, but it shouldn’t hurt you! Still, I was disturbed to read this report showing that lab tests of popular lipsticks contained lead 55 percent of the time!  It’s particularly gross to me, considering how obviously, all of us women inevitably end up eating at least a portion of our lipstick every time we put it on.

How can this happen? According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the FDA doesn’t regulate the amount of lead or other unsafe ingredients cosmetic can contain. Instead, the government relies largely on the industry to regulate itself. Unfortunately, the result is that more than half of the brands recently tested contained the dangerous ingredient.

This isn’t even the first time this year that lipstick has come under fire for containing lead. In February, an FDA analysis showed that 400 shades of lipstick contained at least trace amounts of lead, including those made by cosmetic industry giants such as L’Oreal, NARS, Cover Girl and Maybelline. Busted! A 2009 FDA study showed some lipsticks contained as high as 3.09 ppm of lead. No level of lead is considered safe for human consumption.

Lead Poisoning and Other Problems

Lead in lipstick is especially concerning given how likely women are to ingest at least a little bit of their lipstick every time they refresh it. There is no safe level for lead in the human body. For example, a 2006 study showed that people with as little as 2 mcg/dL of lead in their blood were more likely to die of a heart attack or stroke. Other health issues associated with lead in the human body include:

  • Nervous system defects such as brain disease, convulsions, disrupted release of neurotransmitters, cerebral palsy, slowed nerve conduction, dizziness, decreased reaction time, stroke, peripheral arterial disease, tremor, numbness, tingling, and reduced touch sensitivity
  • Cognitive and mental issues including decreased IQ, poor cognitive function, depression, learning disabilities, anxiety, poor concentration, changes in personality, decreased learning ability, loss of short-term memory, poor verbal function, and autism in genetically predisposed individuals.
  • Growth and development issues including weight issues, osteoporosis, hampered neurodevelopment, and impaired endocrine function
  • Sensory problems such as auditory sensitivity, hearing impairment, altered auditory processing, poor spatial relations, vision and hearing loss, and degenerating retinas
  • Behavioral problems such as violence, lethargy, fatigue, irritability, aggression, inappropriate behaviors, hyperactivity, attention span problems, anti-social behaviors, and restlessness
  • Digestive system disorders including vomiting, cramping, anorexia, impaired vitamin D metabolism, poor appetite, diarrhea, and constipation
  • Kidney disorders kidney disease or failure, nephritis, gout, and renal hypertension
  • Heart and lung function problems such as high blood pressure, anemia, coronary artery disease, electrolyte imbalance, and platelet dysfunction
  • Skeletal dysfunction including joint pain, changes in bone marrow, lower extremity cramping, and increased risk of fracture
  • Other problems such as headaches, poor hand-eye coordination, adrenal fatigue, paralysis, difficulty sleeping, aches and pains, muscular weakness, cell damage, loss of fine motor skills
  • Death

Scary stuff! There is no good in getting shiny red lips at the sacrifice of these enormous potential health issues.

Better Alternatives

That being said…you can still get those shiny red lips with better, safe options with organic makeupbrands! And not at the expense of looking great. These are my favorite natural lipsticks, which work wonderfully and have great color choices:

I love the Siren lipsticks by Vapour Beauty. I own like 5 colors, and keep them in my bathroom and purse both. Sometimes I wear them with gloss on top, and sometimes I don’t. They are luscious and long-lasting.

Sally B’s B Glossy Lip Gloss comes in four great shades, and it’s gluten-free, lead-free and made with 95 percent organic ingredients. Plus, I just love the way  it makes my lips look and feel. It moisturizes and makes my lips very shiny and pretty. At $18 per 7 gram wand, B Glossy Lip Gloss makes a great stocking stuffer.



Last updated: Thursday, June 18, 2015
  • Maria (

    Kim, for people in Canada, Dr. Baumann Cosmetics is a great alternative as well!

  • Roxana

    Thanks for this informative post Kim! Have you read if this applies to lip glosses as well? Or was the study mainly on lipstick?

  • Mary

    What about Mac lipstick and gloss?

  • Mahealani Winters

    Hi Kim,

    This is a fantastic article! Thank you so much for posting it! I’m wondering what you know about Arbonne cosmetics. I use their lip stick and lip polish and have heard they are “pure, safe and beneficial” Can you share more on that if you have any info.

    Thank you!


  • miriam kairey

    I have read that there is lead in everything since our environment is contaminated. Is this true?

  • Samantha

    This is a great article. Where can I find a list of the lipsticks that contained led in this study?

  • dianne skipper

    Are we able to buy them in australia Thanks you I am 65

  • Annette Gorden

    Thanks! I shared this info on my Fackbook Fan Page…always looking for healthy, helpful info to raise awareness and promote change.


  • Alice roberts

    I love all these FYI , they are easy to pull up and show my family and friends ! So many people have their heads in the sand and believe our government agency have our health as their first and for most care! My favorite line that never stops amazing me is “oh they wouldn’t let manufactures put harmful ingredients in our foods and products! ”

    Sincerely Alice R.

    • Juliane Porter

      Alice, totally agree!

  • Thomas

    I better share this information with my wife. I know she loves lipsticks but I don’t know what she buys. I also kiss her and that may also endanger me from being poisoned. How much are the lipsticks by Vapour Beauty? I’d love to buy that for my wife as another Christmas gift.

  • Satya

    This is so true that most lipsticks out there(along with ALL other cosmetics and toiletries) are chock-filled with chemicals, toxins and lead.

    That is why I choose natural, cruelty-free products- my go-to lipstick and lipgloss is Glam Girl Naturals Cosmetics Lipsticks and Lipglosses. They have really nice shades that seem to look good on many shades(my friends and I love them and we are all different shades!)

    They seem to compliment whoever is wearing them, and the best thing is that they are 100% gluten-free and cruelty-free. And most imporantly FREE of chemicals, toxins, parabens, and LEAD!!!