Lead, cadmium, chromium, aluminum and five other metals were amongst those detected, of which the researchers estimated their risk by analyzing their concentration levels with consumers’ potential daily intake against existing health guidelines.
Now the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association says that what the researchers found was ‘minute levels’ in the products they reviewed and that despite the suggestions otherwise, they are not present at levels that would cause harm either now or in the future.
‘The traces of metals found in lipsticks are vanishingly small amounts, but they are there because they are everywhere in the environment. However, lipsticks are strictly regulated by stringent EU cosmetic safety laws that ensure that such amounts never reach unsafe levels,” says Director-General of the CTPA, Dr Chris Flower.
“To put in context the amount of lead found in the samples from the study, you would get 1000 times more lead from safe drinking water than you would from using those lipsticks.”
'Not a cause for concern'
According to CTPA, strict European cosmetic laws require manufacturers to carry out a rigorous safety assessment by a qualified expert scientist whereby that assessment will also take account of any impurities present in the ingredients that could end up in the finished product.
“There are often claims that the average wearer of lipstick could swallow between 500 – 1500g of lipstick in their lifetime or that they consume the equivalent of 5 lipsticks a year. And while no one deliberately eats lipstick and lip gloss, some of what you put onto your lips will be ingested. This is taken into account, as normal use conditions, as part of the safety assessment."
What the researchers found
Despite the researchers at the University of Berkeley stating that the lead they detected in 24 products was of a generally lower concentration than the acceptable daily intake level, they still felt the levels raised concerns for young children, who sometimes play with makeup, since no level of lead exposure is considered safe for them.
Thus on the basis of this study, they ruled that using acceptable daily intakes, at a higher than average use of some lipsticks and lip glosses would result in excessive exposure to chromium, a carcinogen linked to stomach tumors.
"High use of these makeup products could result in potential overexposure to aluminum, cadmium and manganese as well. Over time, exposure to high concentrations of manganese has been linked to toxicity in the nervous system."