Update: Your Makeup is Metal. The Top 40 Most Dangerous Products
Jun 24, 2012 | Comments 0
Dating back to the 18th century, women France, courtesans applied vermilion rouge, which contained sulfur and mercury, and suffered damage to their teeth, livers, and nervous systems as a result.
While the levels are much lower, according to a 2011 report by Environmental Defense, an Ontario-based research group, dangerous heavy metals still lurk in lip gloss, mascara, foundation, blush, eye shadow, and eyeliner.
The researchers tested a total of 49 common products selected from the cosmetic bags of six average Canadian women. They found that every product contained at least one of seven heavy metals including arsenic, cadmium, lead, nickel, beryllium, thallium, and selenium. Lead, a known neurotoxin, showed up in 96% of the items. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that lead exposure is not safe at any level. Heavy metals are considered a by-product of manufacturing and it’s worth noting that none were listed in the ingredients lists on the cosmetics’ labels.
“Individual exposures to these metals in small amounts are unlikely to cause harm, but heavy metals can build up in the body over time and may increase risk for a variety of health problems.” The U.S. Department of Labor links arsenic to stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and cancer of the bladder, lungs, skin, kidney, nasal passages, liver, and prostate.
Of the 49 tested, these items were found to have the highest levels of impurities:
Clinique Stay True Makeup foundation (Stay Ivory) — arsenic, cadmium, beryllium, lead, nickel, thallium
Sephora Sculpting Powder Trio eye shadow (Brown and Pink) — beryllium, lead, nickel, thallium
MAC Sheerton Shimmer Blush (Springsheen) — beryllium, lead, nickel, thallium
L’Oreal Bare Naturale mascara (Black/Brown) — arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, lead, nickel, thallium
Cover Girl Perfect Point Plus eyeliner (Black Onyx) — beryllium, cadmium, lead, nickel
Almay Intense i-color Trio eye color (Trio for Blues, Brown and Dark Grey) — beryllium, cadmium, lead, nickel, selenium
Benefit Benetint Pocket Pal (Red Tint and Clear Gloss) — arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, lead, nickel, selenium, thallium
Cost is no indicator that a product contains lower levels of heavy metals. The FDA found the highest levels in lipsticks made by Procter & Gamble (Cover Girl brand), L’Oreal (L’Oreal and Maybelline brands), and Revlon. The lipsticks containing the most lead (measured in parts per million) are:
1. Maybelline Color Sensational, Pink Petal (7.9 ppm)
2. L’Oreal Colour Riche, Volcanic, (7.0 ppm)
3. NARS Semi-Matte, Red Lizard (4.93 ppm)
4. Cover Girl Queen Collection, Ruby Remix, (4.92 ppm)
5. Nars Semi-Matte, Funny Face (4.89 ppm)
6. L’Oreal Colour Riche, Tickled Pink (4.45 ppm)
7. L’Oreal Intensely Moisturizing Lipcolor, Heroic (4.41 ppm)
8. Cover Girl Continuous Color, Warm Brick (4.28 ppm)
9. Maybelline Color Sensational, Mauve Me (4.23 ppm)
10. Stargazer Lipstick, #103 (4.12 ppm)
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics supports passage of the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011, which was designed to give the FDA authority to ensure that personal care products are free of harmful ingredients. It also mandates that contaminants, such as heavy metals, be fully disclosed. In the meantime, you can check your favorite makeup on the Environmental Working Group’s user-friendly, searchable database that rates the safety of thousands of cosmetics and other personal care products.
Filed Under: Hair