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FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION Suggests a Limit on Lead in Cosmetics (Or, a Friendly Reminder Not to Eat Your Lipstick)

A new record from the FDA suggests a limit on lead within cosmetics as of last week, officially reminding beauty companies from the due diligence they must do to create and sell a product that contains the particular metal— especially with lips products , which can easily be swallowed, as well as almost all externally applied products, which can be absorbed through the skin. Based on official FDA documentation , the agency is proposing a maximum of ten parts for each million for lead in all lip makeup (think: lipsticks, glosses, liners, and yes, even lip kits) in addition to a slew of externally applied products, too, which include make-up, plus skin- and hair-care items like eyeshadows, blushes, entire body lotions, and shampoos. All of this, though, made me a little bit weary, to be honest. Why draft new guidelines now? Since Refinery 29 notes , the FDA has always turned a bit of a blind vision to the controversial use of lead in cosmetics, even after the 2007 report conducted by Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found business lead in over 60 percent of American-made, mass-market lipsticks, including, at the time, the beloved Dior Addict range.


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Maybe they decided to drive out the paper pre-Christmas because the FDA knew you would be getting beauty gifts , or maybe it’s because the FDA Cosmetics Safety Act was not updated since— wait for it— 1938. It’s because of that extremely act that the FDA can only regulate cosmetics after they are produced (unlike a drug, which is rigorously tested beforehand). So if you’re wondering, “Um, why didn’t this arrive earlier? ” it’s because the agency isn’t given that legislation. This antiquated bit of bureaucracy is one of the reasons California senator Dianne Feinstein is sponsoring the Personal Care Products Safety Act, as being a move to revise these outdated (and potentially dangerous) guidelines.

Until then, though the FDA released draft guidance, not a legal mandate. In the report, the particular agency is quick to remind consumers that their surveying of almost 700 cosmetic products (in four individual experiments) found more than 99 percent of products presently on the U. S. market to meet the 10 ppm max rule with each and every item. However , a few items did fall above the maximum threshold— ones we’re considering you need to hold off on using for now. Specifically, one eye shadow, Clarins Paris Mono Couleur 19 Ice Blue, and another blush, Lancome Blush Subtil 8 Brun Roche, that have been both found to contain 14 ppm, four components per million above the recommended ten.

That 10 ppm max that’s been recommended by FDA isn’t random or arbitrary; it’s also the exact stage at which cosmetics can be swallowed or absorbed through the pores and skin that will not lead to detectable levels of lead in the blood, the agency verifies. “We concluded that up to 10 ppm lead in aesthetic lip products and externally applied cosmetics would not pose the health risk, ” the report reads.

But allow us to call a spade a spade. Lead is a toxic metal— even in little quantities, and especially to children. “Recent science could signifies there is no safe level of lead exposure. Lead is a neurotoxin and can be dangerous at small doses, ” claims the Campaign for Secure Cosmetics . “Medical experts are clear that any kind of level of lead exposure is unhealthy. ” According to the CDC , lead has been connected to learning deficits, language and behavioral problems, reduced male fertility, hormonal changes, and menstrual irregularities, among other problems.

But don’t deep six your own lip paints just yet. In the draft guidance, the FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION was able to confirm that “the low levels of lead we present in the surveyed products indicate that the manufacturers were prone to have sourced their ingredients appropriately and to have used great manufacturing practices in order to achieve low levels of lead in their completed products. ” Fine. But what about that K-beauty stash you’ve already been silently pilfering from Amazon, or the Icelandic skin-care program you can’t ditch six months after your return home through that trip? The FDA can’t sign off upon those. “We are aware that some cosmetics from other countries include lead at higher levels, ” the agency documented. “This makes guidance on recommended maximum lead levels even more important as more products are imported into this nation. ”

As for the rest of your elegance buys, though, I wouldn’t worry too much. New Jersey-based cosmetic chemist Ginger King tells Allure that most American-made brands self-regulate the most of lead— including the portfolio of brands owned simply by big guys Esté e Lauder and L’Oreal— and also have an impurity check in practice before any lipstick, cream, or cream hits a retail shelf.

But because there’s no way (yet) to ensure that the particular FDA covered every single product, I also asked King to indicate any red flags one should look for when reading the ingredients on the beauty product’s package. “If an ingredient label provides ‘lead acetate, ‘ don’t use it, ” King states. One product that tends to have lead in it? Tresses dye, she tells Allure. Specifically, the boxed kind for men. However , “lead acetate is not a banned material, but rather, the focus of it used in a product [is what really matters], ” King states. She also says to be mindful of formulations along with high pigmentation, or ones with mica, a nutrient silicate that lends shimmer, but can also contain normally occurring lead. If you really want to play it safe, “light matte colors contain less pigments, and have a lower possibility of impurities. ”

When I reached out towards the FDA, a spokesperson directed me back to the FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION Constituent Update that was issued on December 21 (and referenced throughout this piece, accordingly)— as a reminder, you can read the report in full here . But in the meantime, don’t freak out. How about distracting your self by learning 7 totally surprising facts about Beautyblenders ?


Watch what happens when BuzzFeed staffers try edible beauty products (that definitely don’t contain lead):

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