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Does lipstick really lower IQ?  The FDA found up to 7.2 ppm of lead in a recent survey:

Four hundred types of lipstick from brands such as L’Oreal SA (OR) and The Procter & Gamble Co. contain trace amounts of lead, according to U.S. regulators who are evaluating whether to recommend an acceptable limit.

L’Oreal’s Color Sensational Pink Petal topped the list of brands purchased between February and July 2010 that were tested for lead by the Food and Drug Administration, with 7.19 parts per million, the agency said on its website. Paris-based L’Oreal made half of the 10 lipsticks with the highest lead levels, though all are safe, the FDA said.

Products sampled in 2010 had average concentrations of 1.11 parts per million, close to the average of 1.07 parts per million in a smaller survey the FDA conducted in 2007. Lead exposure can lead to kidney damage, reduced IQ and behavioral and attention problems, according to the National Institutes of Health, with pregnant women and young children most vulnerable.


Lead is not listed as an ingredient but may be present within color pigments.  Since it tends to bioaccumulate, there is no safe amount:

“Lead builds up in the body over time and lead-containing lipstick applied several times a day, every day, can add up to significant exposure levels. The latest studies show there is no safe level of lead exposure,” according to Mark Mitchell, MD, MPH, policy advisor of the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice and co-chair of the Environmental Health Task Force for the National Medical Association.

“Lead is a proven neurotoxin that can cause learning, language and behavioral problems such as lowered IQ, reduced school performance and increased aggression. Pregnant women and young children are particularly vulnerable to lead exposure, because lead easily crosses the placenta and enters the fetal brain where it can interfere with normal development,” according to Sean Palfrey, MD, a professor of pediatrics and public health at Boston University and the medical director of Boston's Lead Poisoning Prevention Program. “Since recent science suggests that there is truly no safe lead exposure for children and pregnant women, it is disturbing that manufacturers are allowed to continue to sell lead-containing lipsticks."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states: “No safe blood lead level has been identified.” The agency suggests avoiding all sources of lead exposure, including lead-containing cosmetics.

In addition to lead, another risky substance found in lipstick is phthalate:
Chemicals found in lipstick and nail varnish could trigger breast cancer, scientists warned yesterday.

A study has shown that butyl benzyl phthalate, or BBP, can interfere with the healthy development of breast tissue.

Environmental campaigners yesterday called for it to be banned in the cosmetic industry, where it is used to make products glossy.

The man-made substance is part of the phthalate family of chemicals, which mimic the female sex hormone oestrogen.

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