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Health Watch: Consumer Group Wants Lead Out Of Lipstick

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stephanie-web Stephanie Stahl
Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3 and The CW Philly 57’s Emmy Award-win...
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By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A consumer group is asking the FDA to get almost all lead out of lipstick. That’s after federal scientists found lead in hundreds of lipstick samples.

We’ve known for years that trace amounts of lead can appear in lipsticks. The FDA says it’s not a safety concern. But consumer groups say even tiny amounts of lead in products used by pregnant women can hurt their children.

“I love it. I’m a lipstick girl,” said Amanda Dolack.

Whatever the shade, lipstick can have an unexpected trace ingredient. Lead.

High doses of lead can affect everything from neurological function to fertility – and children are especially susceptible.

But is lead in lipstick dangerous?

The FDA first studied lead in lipstick in 2007. A second study published in December 2011 tested 400 lipsticks for lead and ranked them. The FDA found the largest amounts of lead in shades made by some of the biggest names in makeup: L’Oreal, Maybelline, NARS and Cover Girl.

An industry group, the Personal Care Products Council, says lead usually occurs naturally in pigments and causes no harm.

“FDA’s conclusion, which we agree with as a result of the second study, is that the lead levels in lipstick do not present a safety concern,” said Halyna Breslawec, chief scientist at the Personal Care Products Council.

Janet Nudelman, coordinator of the consumer group Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, is unconvinced.

“What we know about lipstick is that a woman licks her lips probably about a hundred times a day,” said Nudelman, “and every time she does, she ingests a little bit of lead if the lipstick is contaminated with lead.”

“You know you swallow a lot, but you don’t really think what’s in it,” said Dolack.

Nudelman says the FDA hasn’t studied how swallowing lipstick can affect a developing fetus or a nursing infant. She wants lead out of lipstick, and some women agree.

Jan Buske said, “Well, if there’s lead in lipstick, it has to come out.”

Both sides say the FDA should establish a safety standard for lead in cosmetics, although they disagree what that standard should be. Right now, the standard only applies to color additives in cosmetics.

To see the FDA testing results of lead in lipstick from December 2011, click here: http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/

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