Lethal Lips: Lipsticks laced with toxic metals, says study

Lethal Lips! Many popular lipsticks and lip glosses may be laced with toxic metals, a new study claims.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley's School of Public Health in US tested 32 different lipsticks and lip glosses commonly found in drugstores and department stores.

They detected lead, cadmium, chromium, aluminium and five other metals, some of which were found at levels that could raise potential health concerns.

Prior studies also have found metals in cosmetics, but the UC Berkeley researchers estimated risk by analysing the concentration of the metals detected and consumers' potential daily intake of the metals, and then comparing this intake with existing health guidelines.

"Just finding these metals isn't the issue; it's the levels that matter," said study principal investigator S Katharine Hammond, professor of environmental health sciences.

"Some of the toxic metals are occurring at levels that could possibly have an effect in the long term," said Hammond.

Lipstick and lip gloss are of special concern because when they are not being blotted on tissue or left as kiss marks, they are ingested or absorbed, bit by bit, by the individual wearing them, researchers said.

The researchers developed definitions for average and high use of lip makeup based on usage data reported in a previous study. Average use was defined as a daily ingestion of 24 milligrammes of lip makeup per day.

Those who slather on the lip colour and reapply it repeatedly could fall into the high use category of 87 milligrammes ingested per day, researchers said.

Using acceptable daily intakes derived from this study, average use of some lipsticks and lip glosses would result in excessive exposure to chromium, a carcinogen linked to stomach tumours.

High use of these makeup products could result in potential overexposure to aluminium, cadmium and manganese as well. Over time, exposure to high concentrations of manganese has been linked to toxicity in the nervous system.

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