Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Ladies, you may be licking lead. More than half of 33 brand-name lipsticks tested contained detectable levels of lead, with levels ranging from 0.03 to 0.65 parts per million (ppm), according to new product tests released today by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. The lead tests were conducted by an independent laboratory over the month of September on red lipsticks bought in Boston, Hartford, Conn., San Francisco and Minneapolis. The advocacy group claims that one-third of the tested lipsticks exceeded the  U.S. Food and Drug Administration's 0.1 ppm limit for lead in candy – a standard established to protect children from directly ingesting lead.

Concerns about lead in lipstick aren’t new. Snopes.com, while disputing a myth that a gold ring can help detect whether lipstick contains lead, notes that the "comparison with candy is made because the FDA has not yet issued specific standards for lead content in lipstick (and so news or consumer watchdog associations choose sweets as a comparison product), but this match up is not an apt one: people eat whole pieces of candy; they don't merely smear their lips with thin coatings of it."

The Food and Drug Administration said Friday it would look into the claims from an advocacy group that certain lipsticks contain potentially dangerous levels of lead. Similar claims in the past have not been confirmed. A cosmetics industry leader told the Associated Press that "The average amount of lead a woman would be exposed to when using cosmetics is 1,000 times less than the amount she would get from eating, breathing and drinking water that meets Environmental Protection Agency drinking water standards."

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