News Room

Statement by Halyna Breslawec, Chief Scientist Personal Care Products Council on the Safety of Lipstick

February 15, 2012

Contact: Kathleen Dezio, 202/454-0302 or Lisa Powers, 202/466-0489

In December 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released results of a comprehensive study they conducted examining 400 lipsticks across many brands, and once again concluded that there was no safety concern from the amount of lead found in those products.  This followed an earlier examination of lipsticks by FDA in 2009.  
Specifically, FDA states, “…we have assessed the potential for harm to consumers from use of lipstick containing lead at the levels found in both rounds of testing. Lipstick, as a product intended for topical use with limited absorption, is ingested only in very small quantities. We do not consider the lead levels we found in the lipsticks to be a safety concern. The lead levels we found are within the limits recommended by other public health authorities for lead in cosmetics, including lipstick.”
The issue, tracked by FDA since the 1990’s, is not new.  In 2009, FDA examined 20 products and found that the lead levels in those products did not present any safety concern. In an article published in the July/August 2009 edition of the peer-reviewed, Journal of Cosmetic Science, FDA scientists reported that they developed, validated and employed a highly sensitive and rigorous testing method to analyze the total lead content in a broad selection of lipsticks sold in the U.S. and found the lead levels present to be safe and well below limits recommended by international regulatory authorities.  
The FDA study of lead levels in lipstick conducted in 2009 was prompted by repeated and baseless allegations by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC), an activist group that alleged it found unsafe lead levels in a variety of lipsticks marketed in the U.S.  However, all of the lead levels the group identified were well below all established regulatory standards. 
“FDA again has reviewed the lead levels found in lipstick and determined them to be safe.  Unfortunately, some activist groups are misconstruing the results of the FDA study posted in December that found current lead levels in lipsticks to be well below limits recommended by international regulatory authorities.  In the study, FDA found trace levels of lead in various lipsticks ranging from 0.026 to 7.19 ppm and averaging 1.11 ppm.  Using lipstick containing lead at this level would result in exposure 1000 times less than from daily consumption of water meeting EPA drinking water standards.
“Lead is never used as an intentionally added ingredient in or as an additive to lipstick.   However, lead is ubiquitous and found naturally in air, water, and soil.  It may also be found at extremely low levels as a trace contaminant in the raw ingredients used in formulating cosmetics, such as lipstick, just as it is found in many thousands of other products. 
“Following FDA’s December release of the findings from its recent study, the agency updated its “Lipstick and Lead: Questions and Answers” page with an analysis of those findings that may be found at:
“Cosmetic companies are required by law to substantiate the safety of their products before they are marketed.  Nothing matters more to cosmetic companies than the safety of those products and the well- being of the women who use them.”
For additional information about lead in lipstick or lipstick ingredients, visit
Based in Washington, D.C., the Personal Care Products Council is the leading national trade association representing the global cosmetic and personal care products industry. Founded in 1894, the Council's more than 600 member companies manufacture, distribute, and supply the vast majority of finished personal care products marketed in the U.S.  As the makers of a diverse range of products millions of consumers rely on every day, from sunscreens, toothpaste and shampoo to moisturizer, lipstick and fragrance, personal care products companies are global leaders committed to product safety, quality and innovation.