Ladies, how much risk of lead exposure would you be willing to undergo for ruby red lips? Is it even something to be concerned about? Well, it depends on who you ask. According to the NYT, a debate is ensuing at the FDA over lead suspected in tubes of women’s favorite shades of lip color.
A recent study found that 1/3rd of lipsticks had in excess of the acceptable limit of lead allowed for candy, raising the question of whether women puckering up is putting them at risk for lead exposure. Cosmetics companies blame only the reddest of red shades–many of which they no longer make–and now assure us that it’s safe to slather on the lip color. But advocacy groups are not so sure. It might be a good idea for FDA, who is completely lacking in any regulation for lead limits for lipsticks, to develop some guidelines in this area.
But is this really a public health risk? Doesn’t most women’s lipstick come off on their morning coffee cups long before they have a chance to ingest it any other way? Shouldn’t we be more worried that our coffee mugs are going to get lead poisoning rather than ourselves? However, there are those who believe that there is no safe level of lead exposure–and for them, all lipsticks should be right out–at least until the data is in–but that could take years.
To me, this seems like much ado about nothing–or just one more reason to go after the cosmetic industry for a less than minimal risk of exposure for the very same women who may be exposed to lead at work, in their homes, the soil or from the imported Chinese toys with which their children play.
At the very least, until the data is in, there seems to be no reason to toss your gloss–except maybe the reddest of reds. For now, pucker up!
Summer Johnson, PhD