Toxic metals found in international makeup brands

PHOTO: Toxic metals found in international makeup brands

Eyeliner and concealers contain cadmium, powders and blushers contain nickel, beryllium is found in bronzes and eye-shadow, and for the final shocker: there is even arsenic in eye-shadow, mascaras and foundations.

This was the finding of a Canadian health science website, eMaxHealth, which conducted tests on 49 popular make-up products including Clinique foundation and and L'Oreal mascara.

The researchers analysed the products for the presence of arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, beryllium, nickel, selenium and thallium. The latter four are banned in cosmetics in Canada.

A number of international cosmetic brands' products were found to contain toxic heavy metals. In fact, all the toxic metals save mercury were found in all 49 products.

Clinique Stay True makeup (Stay Ivory) contained arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, nickel, lead and thallium, while Cover Girl Perfect Point Plus eye liner contained beryllium, cadmium, nickel and lead, said the report.

The popular mascara, L'Oreal Bare Naturale, was shown to include arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, nickel, lead and thallium in its formula.

On average, each product contained four of the toxins tested.

However, you will not see any of the heavy metals labelled on packaging, as according to the health site, the toxins are not added intentionally by the makeup company, by are considered 'impurities' - chemicals which exist as byproducts.

Researchers say the toxins can be absorbed by the skin and spark worrying health problems such as headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, dermatitis, hair loss, hormone disruption, nervous disorders and lung damage.

This is not the first study that has found harmful chemicals in makeup.

A report released last week by America's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found 400 lipsticks on the market tested positive for lead.

Lead has been banned in paint since 1978 because of its toxicity at low levels, but it still shows up in small amounts in some of the best-selling lipstick brands.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, which did an analysis of a study of lead in lipstick, warned consumers that most of the 400 different lipsticks tested were positive for the substance.

Of the brands tested, five L'Oréal and Maybelline lipsticks ranked among the most contaminated with lead.

The group said that five of the nine lipstick brands with the most lead are sold by L'Oreal, the world's largest cosmetics maker.

L'Oreal's "Color Sensational" Pink Petal had the most lead of any lipstick tested at 7.19 parts per million. By comparison, children's products sold in the US are forbidden to have more than 100 parts per million of lead.

The least contaminated lipstick (and also the cheapest) was Wet 'n' Wild Mega Mixers Lip Balm Bahama Mama.

Maybelline's Color Sensational Pink Petal lipstick had the most lead of all those tested - a level of 7.19 parts per million.

Other brands in the report include Cover Girl, Revlon, Estée Lauder, M.A.C., Burt's Bees and Almay, among others.

"Recognizing that there is no safe level of lead exposure, we need to be protecting women and children from all levels of exposure," said Stacy Malkan, co-founder of the campaign - a non-profit coalition of environmental - and cancer-prevention groups.

Information on this page attributed to AFP and Reuters

Malkan's group wants the FDA to set a limit for how much lead lipstick can contain and to study whether there are any dangers to having the substance applied to human lips, particularly the lips of children and pregnant women.

"We know that ingestion of lipstick happens. It gets into our bodies," she said, noting that lead accumulates in people.

Yet the FDA adds that consumers should not be concerned about the lead in lipstick, since so little is actually ingested. 

"The FDA's independent study, which will be published in the May/June 2012 issue of the Journal of Cosmetic Science, confirms that lipsticks pose no safety concerns for the millions of women who use them daily," L'Oreal said in a statement sent to Reuters.

"The lead levels detected by the FDA in the study are also within the limits recommended by global public health authorities for cosmetics, including lipstick."

"The FDA did not find high levels of lead in lipstick," FDA spokeswoman Tamara Ward said. "We developed and tested a method for measuring lead in lipstick and did not find levels that would raise health concerns."

Still, Malkan said the government should take some more steps to ensure the safety of those who use lipstick.

An advisory committee to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has taken a position that there is no safe level of lead for children.

"While lipstick is not sold to children, any mother will tell you it's hard to keep them away from it," writes Forbes magazine on the issue, adding "and pregnant women are often not appropriately cautioned about lead levels in lipstick."

So, Malkan asked why should it be OK for their to be lead in lipstick? And, in particular, for certain brands to have more than others?

"There are no safety standards," Malkan said.

Information on this page attributed to AFP and Reuters