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Lipsticks, Glosses Contain Toxic Metals: Report

Children should not play with these products, researcher says

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Kathleen Doheny

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, May 2 (HealthDay News) -- Lipsticks and lip glosses apparently give you more than colorful kissers, according to a new study by California scientists that contends the products contain lead, cadmium, chromium, aluminum and five other toxic metals.

The research team tested 32 different lip glosses and lipsticks commonly sold at drug and department stores. Some metals were detected at levels that could raise potential health concerns, the researchers said.

"Lipsticks and lip glosses often have levels of toxic metals which approach or exceed acceptable daily doses based on public health guidelines," said researcher Katharine Hammond, a professor of environmental health sciences at the University of California, Berkeley.

Hammond declined to name brands tested. "I would treat these results as applicable to all lipsticks," she said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, however, does list the lead content of many lipsticks by brand on its website.

In the new study, lead was found in 24 of the 32 products, but at a concentration usually lower than the acceptable daily intake levels.

"At an average level of use, it's not likely to be an issue," Hammond said. She added that she's concerned, however, about children playing with makeup, as no level of lead exposure is considered safe for them. Heavy adult users might consider cutting down, she added.

In the study, certain colors were not more likely than others to have the toxic metals, Hammond said. Nor were glosses more likely to have them than lipsticks, or vice versa.

The study was published online May 2 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

The new report isn't the first to focus on toxins in lipsticks. In 2007, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics tested 33 lip products and found that 61 percent contained lead, some with levels high enough to cause concern.

The current study went further than measuring the levels of lead and eight other metals. Researchers estimated risk based on the concentration of the metals detected and the users' potential daily intake -- average or high. They compared that information with existing public health guidelines about acceptable intake levels.

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