The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has made a move to limit the chemical lead in lipsticks and other cosmetics, which begs the question as to why it was allowed in mass produced make-up to begin with. 

The FDA has stated that most make-up does not contain a large quantity of lead, and they would like to reduce the legal amount to 10 parts per million. While 99% of cosmetics fall into this category, many foreign created make-up, and some domestic, contain more than that amount, which even the FDA admits can be harmful to the health of the general public.

In fact, they recently made a statement saying that small quantities of lead in cosmetics are not harmful to the wearer’s health. The FDA said:

The FDA has concluded that use of cosmetics that meet the maximum recommended lead level would not pose a health risk and is not advising consumers to change their current use of cosmetics based on lead levels.

And while it may be true that the quantities are so small that the body barely notices at the time, those who wear make-up daily might be risking a build up of exposure.

No amount of lead is safe to ingest and over time, can cause severe physical and mental impairments.

According to Healthline, symptoms of lead poisoning over time can include:

  • abdominal pain
  • abdominal cramps
  • aggressive behavior
  • constipation
  • sleep problems
  • headaches
  • irritability
  • loss of developmental skills in children
  • loss of appetite
  • fatigue
  • high blood pressure
  • numbness or tingling in the extremities
  • memory loss
  • anemia
  • kidney dysfunction

It is well known that lead make-up was worn during the time of Queen Elizabeth the First. Some historians even theorize that the build up of the exposure to this toxic material might have been the cause of the monarch’s eventual demise. Like modern day make-up, the lead in her cosmetics was used to create vibrant pigmentation, and with deadly consequences.

The FDA says it is prepared to take action against any company that produces make-up with lead levels above 10 parts per million, but is that enough to protect the general public from long term exposure over time?

While the amount ingested may be small, there are currently no long term studies to verify how the make-up may affect someone over a lifetime of wearing cosmetics.


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