News Room

Statement by Linda Loretz, PhD Chief Toxicologist for the Personal Care Products Council Reaffirming the Safety of Lip Products

May 1, 2013

Contact:  Lisa Powers (202) 466-0489 or Hayley McConnell (202) 454-0302

“A May 2013 report titled, Concentrations and Potential Health Risks of Metals in Lip Products from the University of California at Berkeley analyzed 32 lip products (lipsticks and lip glosses) to measure levels of nine metals - lead, aluminum, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, manganese, nickel, and titanium.  The report does not provide any new meaningful information.  The finding of trace levels of metals in lip products is not unexpected given their natural presence in air, soil and water.  Very low levels are also found in drinking water and food.  

“The presence of two of the metals (titanium and aluminum) in cosmetics were found at higher levels because they are used as actual ingredients, approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).  While levels of titanium and aluminum were low, they were higher than any of the other analyzed metals.  Titanium dioxide is an FDA-approved colorant and widely used in cosmetics, including lipstick and is also a food ingredient.  Aluminum is a common color component used to make the color more stable.  The use of aluminum is also approved by FDA for colorant use in cosmetics and in food.  

Putting the Studied Metals in Context

“A few of the metals studied in the report are essential nutrients.  Cobalt is essential as a component of vitamin B12, required for the production of red blood cells.  Copper is an essential component of several enzymes.  Manganese is required for the growth, development, and maintenance of health, and is present in most tissues of all living organisms.  

“The issue of lead in lipstick has long been studied and has been thoroughly addressed by FDA.  As an example of FDA’s diligence in this area, in 2011 the agency tested 400 different lipsticks across many brands and concluded the low levels of lead that were detected were safe.  FDA stated, ‘Lipstick, as a product intended for topical used 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.’  Lead levels found by FDA were lower than limits recommended by other public health authorities for lead in cosmetics, including the very conservative limit of 5 parts per million (ppm) set by California under Proposition 65.

“Trace amounts of metals in lip products need to be put into context.  Food is a primary source for many of these naturally present metals, and exposure from lip products is minimal in comparison.  For example, daily trace amounts of chromium or cadmium from lip products basedon the results in this report are less than 1% of daily exposures one would get from their diet.  In the case of manganese, typical daily intake from food is more than 1000-fold greater than the amount from lip products.  Metals that are prohibited in the EU are not used as cosmetic ingredients in either the EU or the U.S. 

“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 and the well- being of the people who use and enjoy them.”


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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.