Skip navigation
Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
Your Health

FDA Study Finds Lead in Lipstick

Presence of lead in lipstick has caused debate among health organizations.

A surprisingly relevant issue for Valentine's Day was uncovered Tuesday as an FDA study has found that traces of lead have been found in over 400 popular brands of lipstick.

Half of the top ten lipsticks containing the most lead are made by the L'Oreal, the world's largest cosmetics company, with some containing as much as seven parts per million.

According to the FDA, the trace amount of lead is not substantial enough to cause harm. Furthermore, they state that the lead found is due to the minerals used to color the lipstick, as trace levels of lead can be found in nature such as in soil and water.

The Personal Care Products Council, representing the cosmetic industry, agreed with the FDA's findings.

This topic has caused strife among health groups, citing that the FDA established a law banning levels higher than 0.1 PPM in candy, but yet most lipsticks contain more than 100 times the amount, with no law in sight.

FDA officials reasoned that lipstick is for topical use only, and is ingested in much smaller amounts than candy, and is therefore not as threatening as the numbers may lead one to believe.

Law requires manufacturers to notify consumers if they are exposed to levels of lead exceeding 5  parts per million, however only two of the 400 lipsticks tested exceeded this level, and has prompted no action from lawmakers yet.

This rings especially true as lead does not diminish, but rather accumulates in the body over time.

To reduce potential risk the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics urges women to limit lipstick use to special occasions. The organization also advises pregnant women to completely abstain to avoid harming the unborn child.

"Lead is a proven neurotoxin that can cause learning, language and behavioral problems such as lowered IQ, reduced school performance and increased aggression," Dr Sean Palfrey of Boston's Lead Poisioning Prevention Program explained. "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."

Leave a comment

We've Moved!

By Sam Bergum
01/21/16 | 11:09 a.m. PST

Visit us at!

USC Basketball Knocks Off Rival UCLA 89- 75

By Scott Cook
01/14/16 | 12:05 a.m. PST

USC defeats UCLA with stellar play from their Freshmen. 

Holiday Bowl - USC vs Wisconsin Post-Game Press Conference

Su'a Cravens: "It's the players that need to step up"

Darreus Rogers: "It comes down to the players"

Trojans Fall to Wisconsin in the Holiday Bowl 23-21

We detected that you might be on a mobile device such as an iPad or iPhone. Sorry, at this time the video box is only visible on desktop computers.