As a child I intently watched my mother put on bright red lipstick every morning before work. Even when she didn't use a mirror, her lipstick always looked flawless. Recently, my mother asked me about the ingredients in her favorite red lipstick. Throughout my toxicology and environmental health hazard courses, none of my professors had ever mentioned cosmetic ingredients aside from endocrine-disrupting compounds. I couldn't answer the question - what's hidden in lipstick and is it harmful to us?
Red lipstick is notorious for being the lipstick color with the highest prevalence of lead. But research shows that it's not just limited to tubes of red. Researchers at the University of California Berkeley's School of Public Health tested 32 different lipsticks and lip glosses commonly found in drugstores and department stores for nine metals. They found manganese, titanium, chromium, nickel and aluminum in practically every product, lead in 75% of them, and cadmium in nearly half.
Red lipstick is notorious for being the lipstick color with the highest prevalence of lead. But there are a range of concerning metals in most lipsticks.
The metals are used in processing lipstick and are used to generate the perfect lipstick shade. Prior studies have verified their existence in cosmetics; however, this study went one step further by analyzing the product's risk based on consumers' potential daily intake of the metals. The researchers explain that lipstick and lip gloss are of highest concern because they are ingested or absorbed by the wearer throughout the day. Guidelines were generated for average and high use of lip makeup based on usage data from a previous study. Average use is defined as daily ingestion of 24 milligrams of lipstick per day, while high use is set at 87 milligrams ingested per day for women who continuously put on lipstick throughout the day.