Is There Really Lead in Your Lipstick?


Beware, I have been very busy this week and the neighbors just got a big dog that won’t stop barking. I am a bit grouchier than normal!

I don’t know for sure what to believe about the lipstick. I don’t think I have ever kissed a woman who was wearing lipstick, so I suppose I am safe from this. One of my daughters does occasionally wear lipstick though. Hopefully by the time she is ready to have children, she will be past that phase! I have heard many times that women don’t wear makeup for men, they wear it for themselves. In my case, at least, that is certainly true.

There have been many recent articles indicating that lipstick does indeed contain some level of lead. Whether the levels are high enough to be dangerous is being debated. The urban legend website has a page on a specific warning that has been going around the internet for some time. Even though Snopes labels lead in lipstick an urban myth, their page on it really only makes an argument that the level of lead is not dangerous.

The bigger concern is for cosmetics in general. The problem is the supposed regulation that FDA does on cosmetics, cleaning products, and many other items, allows companies to keep ingredients they consider “trade secrets” a real secret from consumers. I have referred to this several times before, but it still gets me angry every time I come across it anew. Stacy Malkin, from The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, says that there are over 10,000 different chemicals used in cosmetics and maybe 10 -15% of them have ever been tested for safety in humans. Add that to the fact that the 15% that might be tested are mostly tested on animals and I would think anyone who uses cosmetics would really try to purchase ones that are pledged to be safe and ethical.

I really believe that everything I eat or put on my body should at least be labeled with all of the ingredients so that I can make an informed choice when I buy. One common example is this… When you see a product that lists “fragrance” as an ingredient, beware. Fragrance is usually a catch all for “we really don’t want to tell you what is in here and besides, if we did we would have to kill you because it is a big, bad, trade secret“!

Of course, you have to be careful because if you buy only the healthy, ethically produced, food, cleaning products, personal hygiene products, cosmetics, clothes, and so on, you might not have any money left to pay the rent. But that is a rant for another day!

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Will Sig
1 JD Thomas

Looking at history in the long term, trace amounts of lead in lipstick is a highpoint in safety for womens’ beauty regimens.

(From: History of Cosmetics)
From the 1400s onwards whitening the face was one of the most common cosmetic practices. This was still popular in the 1800s. A mixture composed of carbonate, hydroxide, and lead oxide was commonly used. This could lead to muscle paralysis or death when used repeatedly. It was replaced by zinc oxide in the 1800s.

Another way to have whiter skin was to bleed yourself. This was done by using the widespread medical practice of using leeches.

(From: Modes in Makeup: a brief history of cosmetics)
In the 19th century, despite growing medical knowledge, dangerous cosmetics continued to be used. Whiteners, still quite popular, contained substances such as zinc oxide, mercury, lead, nitrate of silver, and acids; some women even ate chalk or drank iodine to achieve whiteness.

So, while removing ALL toxins from products we use is a great goal, we have come a LONG way in the last century.


2 Bob

Very informative especially about “fragrance” being listed as an ingredient, lol too funny.


3 Will

Yikes JD! Glad I was not kissing any made up ladies in the previous few centuries! Unfortunately I wasn’t kissing too many in this century or the last, either!

Yes Bob, I guess what really irks me about this is all the stuff that is in, not just makeup, but also soap, shampoo, and other stuff we put on our bodies. I think we manufactures should list all ingredients and not be able to hide behind a curtain like the Wizard of Oz. They claim it is a curtain of trade secrets, but can’t they patent their ingredient list so others can’t steal it?


4 Anna

Hey Will great post, and I think I read about this on some other blog. Hate to tell you I hate lipsticks, they don’t do any justice to me if you like to eat, not just for extra lead, but afterlook, lol. Love the photo, would kill for such lips without lipstick, may be red beats can do the magic, lol. Kidding aside, just trying to take your attention from the barking dog, I think we have one too and it is recent. I think it is the new grumpy guy on the block who just moved into the neighbourhood. I really like the lady before, but hey it is hard to find neighbours you want to have. Anna 🙂


5 Anna

…oh yeah and before I go, women are killing themselves with the cosmetics and high heels, lol, and I don’t understand why. Anna 🙂


6 Will

I like that line, Anna and will remember it! “It’s hard to find neighbors you like to have.”


7 paulette

I appreciate this article. WE really should monitor what’s the content of the product we are using. At least we know if the products we patronize are safe or not.


8 Will

Hi Paulette! Welcome to the site. Thanks for your comments and I hope you continue to contribute!

Yes, being able to decide what we want to use and to use our own opinion on if a product is safe is important. I also want to know all ingredients and processes for other reasons. For example, if meat is irradiated or treated with carbon monoxide I want to know that even if it is proven safe. I may decide not to buy that meat just because I don’t personally approve of the process and it should be my right to know.



9 Medical Oddities

Blah blah, I don’t think girls need to wear makeup to be pretty…well most of them lol. All these cosmetics and such cause a lot of controversy and I think it’s not worth the time.

Medical Odditiess last blog post..Liberty Medical Supplies


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