There’s Lead In Your Lipstick

You might not realize this, but that MAC or L’Oreal that you just can’t live without? It’s probably partially made of lead.


In fact, much of the over-the-counter makeup we buy has various contaminants and heavy metals in it. This year, an FDA study revealed that through a study of over 400 lipsticks, all of varying price ranges and manufacturers, 61% of them were found to have lead in them.

Most of us have heard about lead-poisoning and its harmful effects though paint. Children who ingest lead-based paint chips, or chew on lead pencils, over time developed lead-poisoning. Lead cannot be processed by the human body and therefore gets absorbed into muscle, bone and tissue. Basically, after a certain amount builds up it can have very damaging, long-lasting and sometimes irreversible effects. Lead affects almost every major system including, heart, lungs, kidneys, nervous and even bone density. It is also a neurotoxin and it’s especially harmful to young children, who’s bodies are still developing and who’s growth and development can be heavily damaged as a result.

child lipstick

None of the lipsticks tested had levels high enough to cause acute lead poisoning, however, activists are concerned about extended use. Especially lipstick being used by pregnant women and nursing mothers.

The worst offenders on the FDA list were Maybelline’s Color Sensation in Pink Petal, which had 7.19 parts per million of lead, and L’Oreal Colour Riche in Volcanic, which had 7 parts per million. Next on the list were NARS Semi-Matte in Red Lizard, (Lead content: 4.93 ppm) and Cover Girl Queen Collection Vibrant Hues Color in Ruby Remix (Lead content: 4.92 ppm). The average lead concentration found across the 400 lipsticks was 1.11 parts per million, click here to see the Top 10 worst offenders. To see the full 400 lipstick product list and their rankings click here.

The Center for Disease Control warns that there is no safe level of lead exposure for children. However, the FDA seems to think that lead in “limited absorption in small quantities…is not a safety concern”. California’s EPA has a lead limit of 7 ppm for lipstick, whereas Europe generally has a 10 ppm lead limit for lipstick. The debate centers around the question, “How much lead is too harmful? The interesting thing, however, is that just under half of the lipsticks tested had trace amounts or no lead in them at all. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (the watchdog group who originally pressured the FDA into its investigation), makes the argument that since there is proof that lipstick can actually be consciously made lead-free, why debate the amount of lead at all? Why not just make all lipstick without lead?

By the way. There is currently no recall on any lipstick in this country, no matter how much lead is in it. 🙁

Lead-Free Alternatives

Below are a list of brands who are committed to lead-free lipstick, (as well as no other “icky” ingredients). They’re all all-natural, and all pretty affordable.

Bare Minerals – 100% Natural Lipcolor ($15) Although the parent company Bare Escentuals was bought by hisedio, they seem to have not messed with the lipstick and pretty-much stuck to the

TarteLipSurgence Matte Lip Tint ($24) – “Fiery”is my absolute fave! I’m wearing it here.

PeaceKeeper CauseMeticsPaint Me Lipstick ($14) – None of the lipsticks have any lead, parabens, sulfates, mineral oil or petrolatum

Ilia – Pure Lip Stick ($24)– Another natural line with out any lead, parabens, sulfates, phthalates, mineral oil or petrolatum

Vapour OrganicSiren Lipstick ($22) – This entire line is made from organic plants, minerals and vitamins

Bite Beauty – Luminous Créme Lipstick ($24)This line is exclusive to Sephora and I’m aching to try this stuff in Mulberry.

Gabriel CosmeticsZuzu Luxe ($18) – This gluten-free and vegan line approaches makeup from a homeopathic background. Not a huge range of lip colors, but every skin tone seems to be covered.

Ecco BellaFlowercolor Lipstick ($16) – Plant -based lipstick based on castor oil. they’re whole line has pretty good prices!

• Will you swtich to lead-free lipstick? What other natural brands have you used?


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8 thoughts on “There’s Lead In Your Lipstick

  1. mangomadness

    The natural lipsticks I like are Honeybee Gardens Lipstick ($9, and Wet N Wild Lip Shimmers ($2, Rite Aid).

    I want to try Ilia Lipstick in Neon Angel.

  2. Nappy Queen

    PREACH! This is what i want to tell all the young girls I see with full makeup, lashes, etc. on my way to work each night. I wish natural alternatives got more play. great post.

  3. mama25

    I loved your article, but wanted to mention one thing. Lead pencils are made from graphite. There is no lead in them. I wish there were more companies that offered a cheaper alternative to the expensive organic lipsticks. HoneyBee Gardens has a price of around $11.50 and I can get it at the local Whole Foods. I also found one for around the same price at Target called Botanics from but I don’t think it’s organic. 🙂

  4. Laura

    Hi, nappy queen, I might one day have a line of my own for everyone and the younger girls you mentioned safety in mind, and if I do I’ll tell you. Then you tell them about the line.

  5. Savvy

    @Lydia So far I have not found Sephora to have lead in their lipsticks. They were included in the FDA study but were not listed as having lead. Thanks for your comment!

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