Lipstick will get you into more trouble than you think

2013-05-13 00:00

RESEARCHERS at the University of California have found heavy metals in 32 different lipstick and lip gloss products on sale in pharmacies and supermarkets.

Professor Katharine Hammond at the university’s faculty for environmental-health sciences said the researchers were worried about the levels of toxic heavy metals, which people were absorbing in cosmetic products.

The researcher team had found high levels of the heavy metals, such as lead, cadmium, chrome, aluminium and manganese, as well as four other metals, in quantities in lipsticks and lip gloss products.

The researchers said minute particles of these heavy metals were being absorbed each day through women’s skin, which all added up over the years. They found that the average woman who used make-up daily absorbed 24 milligrams of lipstick. Women who often apply lipstick can absorb up to 87 milligrams of lipstick per day.

Previous studies have also found heavy metals in cosmetic products, but this was the first study to measure the amounts absorbed by users and the health dangers this may pose.

The authors of the study said while women did not have to throw away their lipsticks and lip gloss products, better regulation was needed in the cosmetic industry to protect the consumers.

They warned that chrome is a carcinogenic and continued exposure to manganese could damage the nervous system. Lead was found in 24 of the products tested, but not at dangerous levels. The researchers, however, said parents must take care not to expose their children to lead, pointing out that children enjoy playing with mom’s make-up products.

“A child must never be exposed to lead,” they said.

The European Union prohibits the sale of cadmium, chrome and lead in cosmetic products.

Doctor Carl Albrecht, chief researcher at the Cancer Association (Cansa), said lead damages the brain.

Sally Gnodde, executive director of the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association of South Africa, said cosmetic products are very well regulated in South Africa. There are, however, concerns over products from China and other Eastern countries that slip past customs. All approved cosmetic products that are on sale in South Africa will show a South African address on the product’s packaging.

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