Back in 2007 the now well-known “Poison Kiss” report by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found that some of the most popular lipsticks on the market contain varying amounts of lead. Lead, of course, is a heavy metal that wreaks all sorts of horrible havoc when it’s in the body; it’s been associated with everything from infertility to learning disabilities, muscular problems, and death. As such it’s been legally banned from products we’re exposed to in our daily lives, like paint.
But not lipstick. Even though we put lipstick on multiple times a day, and can accidentally eat the stuff—you know, when it hasn’t already been absorbed into our bodies on its own. Lipstick. Not a great place for lead.
But new research being reported in this New York Times article has found that lipsticks host a whole bunch of other metals—from cadmium to aluminum. The study, published in the May issue of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found traces of cadmium, cobalt, aluminum, titanium, manganese, chromium, copper and nickel in 24 lip glosses and eight lipstick brands. They chose these specific lipsticks because they were the most popular among a set of teenage girls at a community health center in Oakland, Calif.
What’s more: The teenagers in the study reported reapplying lipstick and glosses as often as 24 times a day!
Aluminum, chromium and manganese registered the highest concentrations over all. Because metals tend to accumulate in the body, even trace amounts can still be a problem.
Then there’s this: While definitely much safer, it might be hard to know if some of the clean brands are totally free of metals. According to the article, mica—which is found in many of our favorite natural lipsticks—can sometimes be contaminated with metals. So just how crazy careful do we need to be?
I wear natural lipstick pretty regularly, though I don’t reapply it nearly as often as the young women in the study. If I’m being honest, a little mica is probably not going to keep me away from my favorite clean brands—but maybe I would feel differently if I was pregnant or had a small child getting into my stuff? TBD on that… What about you?
What lipsticks do you wear? How often do you reapply?
A little off topic but in a word, bananas: Researchers have found that minced banana peels can quickly remove heavy metals from water!
In a new study published in Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, which I read while eating brown rice toast with sliced banana (no fooling!), researchers showed that the peels are a remarkably effective low-tech, low-cost solution to purifying rivers and streams that have been contaminated with metals. I’m going to assume it could work in your home, too!
A purification apparatus made of banana peels can be used up to 11 times without losing its metal-binding properties, they note. The team adds that banana peels are very attractive as water purifiers because of their low cost and because they don’t have to be chemically modified in order to work.
Mmmhmm. You see folks? Nature really does have (almost) all the answers.
Dolk’s Banana Therapy (cc) from Flickr user Imagesniper