(CBS) LOS ANGELES For many women, it is
applied, and reapplied every day, day after day…..
Lipstick and lip gloss doesn’t stay on the lips; its
ingredients can also get into the mouth and into the
And there has been a persistent but unsubstantiated rumor
that some lipsticks contain lead.
True or false? We put the rumor to the test.
I bought nineteen different lipsticks and lip gloss
products, and then brought them to this state of the art
toxicology laboratory run by the county of Los Angeles.
Out of 19 lipsticks four came back positive.
Dr. Wasfy Shindy, head of the county’s environmental
toxicology bureau, says these tests are extremely accurate.
“We are licensed by the state and the federal government to
do lead analysis.”
How much lead was found in the lipstick? The numbers varied
from between .2 and .4 parts per million. To put it in
perspective, that’s two to four times the FDA limit for lead
“I’m surprised; I’m surprised that there is lead in it,”
says Professor Curtis Eckhart, the chair of the department
of environmental health sciences at the school of public
health at UCLA.
“The FDA has set a level of .1 parts per million of candy
and your levels are showing that it’s four times higher than
that, so by the FDA's own way of thinking it’s relatively
Professor Eckhart is particularly concerned about young
children and pregnant women.
What advice would he give parents of young children? “I
think that they should avoid putting cosmetics on young
children -- it’s for themselves, it’s not for the children.”
And for pregnant women? “They have to be careful, many
different kind of exposures, cosmetics are just one more. I
did not think lipstick would be a risk.”
We bought more samples of the brands that tested positive to
double check our results.
Four lipsticks by AM cosmetics had between two and four
times the amount of lead allowable in candy—that company is
now no longer in business, but its lipsticks can still be
found in some discount stores.
Three out of four Cover Girl lipsticks tested positive with
between one and two times the level allowable for lead in
Cover Girl provided this written response, which says, in
part: “We do not intentionally add any lead to our cosmetic
products….Due to the ubiquitous nature of lead in the
natural environment, it is sometimes present at trace
levels….All of the raw materials we use in our lip slicks
clearly meet strict FDA specifications for lead content….Our
products are completely safe for our consumers before they
ever go to market.”
It’s the FDA’s responsibility to determine if lipstick has
lead in it, and what levels, and what this would contribute
to the various sensitive populations: infants, young
children, and pregnant women.
The FDA says it has not set a safe level for lead in
lipstick because it didn’t think it was a problem…but in
light of our findings, the FDA says it will take another
I will stay on top of this story and let you know if the FDA
takes any action after reviewing our results.
The lipsticks which tested positive for lead were:
AM Cosmetics, Inc lipsticks with this number on the bottom:
5038A : .41 and .43 parts per million (lead)
882: .27 parts per million (lead)
769 .21 parts per million (lead)
Cover Girl Lipslicks "Precious"
Sample #1: .24 parts per million (lead)
Sample#2: .1 parts per million (lead)
Sample#3: .1 parts per million (lead)
Please note: given the small number of lipsticks that were
tested, we cannot predict the amount or frequency of lead in
these or other brands. Experts tell us the amount of lead
found in these samples is not enough to cause any health
effects on their own. It is the cumulative amount of lead
from this and other sources which concerns some experts.
and other beauty products
without harmful chemicals