Lady cosmetic enthusiasts, drag queens, Robert Smith: our lipstick has been compromised. Good Morning America, in a recent attempt at shattering our fragile dome of innocence and blissful ignorance, has conducted tests on 22 types of lipstick and discovered that over 55% of it — no matter the color, brand or manufacturing origin — contains trace amounts of lead.
Don't get your pretty pout too twisted up about it. The FDA allows for cosmetic companies to use lead in their products and claims that the level of lead in lipstick (which has actually dropped in the past year) can't hurt you. Anti-lead activists, however, claim that any amount of lead can be harmful, especially to children and babies in utero. Says Dr. Sean Palfrey, medical director for the Boston Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, "What we know now is that even the lowest levels of lead can harm your IQ, your behavior, your ability to learn, so we want to make sure that it is out of everything that is in the environment of children."
Dr. Halyna Breslawec, the chief scientist for the cosmetic industry's Personal Care Products Council, counters, "If you were serious about the public health aspects of lead poisoning you would not be looking at lipstick. You would be looking at locations where children live. Do they live near hazardous waste dumps? Are they chewing lead-containing paint fragments?"
Breslawec's red herring argument is about as dumb as a mildly malfunctioning nuclear power plant responding to people's concerns with a "Look, if you really cared about nuclear safety, you would be looking at Chernobyl right now," but — still — a small amount of lead is unlikely to stop anyone from wearing makeup.
What it all seems to boil down to is that lipstick has lead in it, but not that much. If it bothers you, there are lots of lead free lipsticks on the market right now so pucker up, buttercup!
Image via Oleksiy Mark/Shutterstock.