This story does the rounds every few months or so and each time it resurfaces I think there will be some horrendous scandal where a brand has been caught poisoning us. But no. This is never the case, and Colin from, who is a scientist, a product formulator and no-nonsense all-round know-everything about beauty formulations has a feature on his blog telling us why a little lead (little being the operative word) never did us any harm. Below is an excerpt and please click through to read the rest of it here:

“They (Campaign For Safe Cosmetics) had some testing done and did indeed find some small traces of lead – down in the parts per million level so hardly alarming. Nonetheless, the FDA chose to investigate and carried out a proper study. This found similar levels. Even at face value the numbers weren’t particularly significant. Several were zero, most were barely above the limit of detection. Even the highest figure found, which was 7 ppm, was way too low to constitute any meaningful health risk. Just to make this clear, an average adult has about 1200 micrograms of lead in total in their blood stream. I did some experiments and worked out that an average application of lipstick weighs around 0.075g. If you assume that there is 7 micrograms per gram, using the highest figure from the FDA study, then you are going to add less than a microgram of lead even if every bit that got onto your lips found its way into your bloodstream, not a very likely scenario. Increasing your current loading of lead by a lot less than 0.1% doesn’t strike me as risky.
But delve a bit deeper into the FDA report and it is even more benign. They have published the method they used to do the testing, so anybody who feels inclined can check their results. When you look at the details it turns out that they have had to work really hard just to get the lead extracted from the lipstick in order to measure it. In fact they have had to use hydrofluoric acid, the strongest mineral acid that exists. The reason for this is that the lead is not added during manufacture, but is a trace contaminant in some of the minerals used to make the pigments. This is inevitable. Lead is a naturally occurring element that is found in a lot of minerals. But it is generally bound up in a form that makes it unavailable.”

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