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.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.