Lead levels in lipsticks aren’t typically very high, but they have edged up since the FDA began tracking them in 2007. A new report issued by the agency in December 2011 after testing 400 lipsticks, found amounts of lead ranging from 0.026 parts per million (ppm) to 7.19 ppm. The highest level in 2007 was 3.06 ppm.
You can check the lead content in your lipstick on the FDA’s website and look through the list for lipsticks with lower levels. While the agency does not now limit the amount of lead in cosmetics, it reportedly is considering whether to set an upper level for lead in lipstick. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has been pushing for this change and has noted that the highest lead levels of the lipsticks the FDA tested were more than 275 times the level found in the lipsticks with the lowest levels.
Concerns about lead in lipstick are especially relevant to pregnant women because lead can cross the placenta and enter the fetal brain where it can interfere with normal development.