Style Quotient | Lip Service, Unleaded Please!


There is nothing better than a phenomenal lipstick. OK, maybe a few things are, but a smashing lip color can perk up a lady's face and overall look in seconds. We all have our favorite tubes, but I can almost guarantee that no woman likes their lipstick or gloss so much that they'd like to eat it.

Wait. What?

That is exactly what's happening every time you apply something to your lips. The product goes straight into your body.

When this first dawned on me, I pooh-poohed the idea. As I learned more about the chemicals used in manufacturing cosmetics, I started to get a little worried. Now, after a few years of educating myself on green and organic beauty options, I am even more alarmed – especially since I learned of the inclusion of lead in lipstick. It's very difficult to find hazard-free beauty products, even for a product junkie such as I!

The issue of lead in lipstick is not a brand new one. But in 2007, The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (an indispensable research tool for me) asked an independent lab to test over 33 popular lipstick brands for lead. The results showed that 61 percent of the products tested contained the harmful ingredient in varying degrees. This experiment shed light on the issue and the growing concern eventually forced the FDA to revisit its own previous study. Unfortunately, the new results were even worse than in the previous study. However, the FDA still does not believe lead in lipsticks is of much concern!

Today, using lead as an ingredient in lipsticks is still legal! I find this to be extremely disturbing. And lead is not the only harmful ingredient contained in lip products. Sadly, there are too many to list. Most women I know use at least one lip product, at least once a day, every day. The buildup of lead and other chemicals in our body from lipstick alone (not to mention all the other products we apply to our skin) could cause a variety of health problems. It’s unfortunate that a product that is supposed to enhance our beauty can instead end up causing very ugly results.

So, where do we go from here? Here are three ways to get started.

  • Educate yourself. Bookmark the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. This site allows you to check the toxicity of your current products and decrease your risk of exposure by discovering safer alternatives.
  • Raise awareness. Spread the word. Inform the women in your life of this issue so they can make adjustments to their beauty regime, too, if they so choose.
  • Redirect your dollars. Support organic and natural cosmetic brands that make an effort to reduce their use of hazardous chemicals by switching to their products.

Some brands I choose to support are Burt's Bees, Pangea Organics, Weleda and Juice Beauty. It is my belief that, while writing to companies, political leaders and government agencies can help, the loudest message consumers can send is with their dollars.

In beauty and in health,


To learn more about this and other issues relating to cosmetics safety and find more ways to take action, visit The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics website.


Photo by Tony Frantz