Your favorite shade of Marilyn Monroe red may contain lead, according to a recently updated test of lipstick by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The agency found that 400 popular lipsticks contained trace amounts of the toxin.
The worst offenders on the list were Maybelline’s Color Sensation in Pink Petal, which had 7.19 parts per million of lead, and L’Oreal Colour Riche in Volcanic, which had 7 parts per million. Several other brands, including Cover Girl and Nars had products hovering in the 4-to-5-parts-per-million range. (The average lead concentration found across the 400 lipsticks was 1.11 parts per million; click here to see the products ranked.)
That’s higher than what the FDA found in its first lipstick-lead test in 2007, which looked at 20 lipsticks and found lead in all — but none over 3.06 parts per million. In that test, all the products fell below the safety limit recommended by the state of California — 5 parts per million — the most stringent law in the country on lead in consumer products. While several of the products included in the recent analysis exceeded the lead levels measured in 2007, all but two still fell under the California threshold.
The FDA first began testing for lead in lipsticks in response to pressure from the consumer group Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, whose own 2007 test of 33 lipsticks found lead in most of them. The group has long called on the FDA to set a lead limit for lipstick, but the agency has resisted, saying that the amount of the toxin found in lipstick poses no risk to consumers, especially since so little of the makeup is actually ingested by wearers.