A poisonous kiss
An essential beauty product, we apply lipstick and then reapply it. It doesn’t matter if you’re at work or at play, your lips should always be well defined with a lipstick. Sometimes, it becomes an obsession- just like it did for Kill Bill star, Uma Thurman. When asked the last thing she misplaced, she told People magazine, ‘Somewhere there are 8,000 tubes of lipstick that once belonged to me.’
But, your lipstick might very well be a poisonous kiss—containing high levels of metals. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health, found lead, cadmium, chromium, aluminium, and manganese in more than 30 common brands of lipsticks and lip gloss.
This kind of adulteration can put women at danger of health problems like stomach tumours or nervous system issues. If your kid loves to try on your make-up, she could also be at risk.
Amount of metals in lipsticks
While cosmetics generally contain some amount of metals, Berkeley researchers assert that some lipsticks may contain dangerously high concentration of such metals and can therefore, be deadly.
“Just finding these metals isn’t the issue; it’s the levels that matter,” said study principal investigator S. Katharine Hammond, PhD, professor of environmental health sciences at UC Berkley, in a press release. “Some of the toxic metals are occurring at levels that could possibly have an effect in the long term.”
“We did not find a pattern in which brands or types of lipsticks or lip gloss contained toxic metals at levels of health concern,” said study lead author Sa Liu, MS, MPH, a UC Berkeley researcher and doctoral candidate in exposure assessment. “But there are hundreds of products out there and they are constantly changing.”
The exposure of metals through lipstick
Because you do your daily activities such as drinking, eating, kissing or blotting, wearing lipstick or lip gloss and hence ingest small amounts of these products every time, the effect over heavy metal exposure from it is bigger than that for other cosmetics.
A previous study had found that the average lipstick or lip gloss user consumes 24 milligrams of it daily. And, if you constantly reapply or like to wear thick layers, you consume an average of 87 milligrams of it per day! But, how much is too much?
“It depends on many factors such as how much one uses, what the metal concentrations are in the products one uses,” Lui added. “It also depends on one’s pre-existing health conditions.”
For a woman with renal disease or diabetes, we may have more concern about exposure of cadmium which deposits in the kidney and causes damages there,” said Lui. “Additionally, a metal may cause more than one adverse health effect at different levels, so it also depends on what health effects one is concerned about.”
A stricter surveillance of metals in cosmetics is needed because they are unregulated in most countries, aside from lead impurity in colour additives. Keeping their study’s findings in mind, researchers are warranting a larger, more thorough survey of lip colours.