Can Your Lipstick Kill You?

Relax. Not really. But there are disturbing amounts of lead in many lipsticks, according to The Web site reports that 400 brands of lipstick are laced with lead, though the amount in the lipsticks is less than you find in food.

Still, some experts believe women eat between four and six pounds of lipstick in their lives. Of course, we don't (at least most of us) don't eat it, but anything that goes on our skin, especially near our mouths, winds up in our bloodstream.

"The ingredients in lipstick have changed dramatically over the centuries," Carol Warwick writes. "In Cleopatra’s time a dye extracted from seaweed was also used to give lips a purple-red tinge - it also made women very unwell. In the 19th century lipstick didn’t come in a tube. Instead women painted their lips with carmine dye. But by the turn of the century ingredients like beeswax, castor oil and tallow (animal fat) were being combined to form the same kind of product we use today."

Some of those same ingredients are used today but back in 2007, when the U.S. Organization Campaign for Safe Cosmetics examined 33 brands of popular lipstick, 61% of those tested contained lead.

The biggest culprits at the time, according to Warwick:

  • Cover Girl
  • L’Oreal
  • The Body Shop
  • Maybelline
  • Revlon
Warwick explains that there's no safe level of lead for humans, and it can lead to neuron and reproductive failures. And if your kids eat it?  Call poison control.

But that's not all that can be found in lipstick.  Parabens are also found in lipsticks -- along with shampoo and many other cosmetic items -- and paraben is a known estrogen-mimicking preservative, according to Warwick, which can disrupt reproduction and cause breast tumors.

So should you chuck all your lipsticks?  No, but use them wisely and maybe limit your use to only a couple of times a day.



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