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.

New York Times Bestseller and Nutritionist