Five lipsticks made by L’Oreal and Maybelline, owned by L’Oreal USA, ranked among the top 10 most contaminated of the cosmetics, according to testing by the Food and Drug Administration. Two Cover Girl and two NARS lipsticks also landed in the top 10, as did one made by Stargazer.
For years, the Campaign for Safe Cosmeticshas been pushing the government to set limits for lead levels in lipstick. The FDA has resisted, insisting that the amounts detected in various rounds of testing do not pose safety risks. But in a letter to the agency this month, the consumer group said that federal regulators have no scientific basis for this conclusion and it pressed the government to take action.
Reports of lead in lipstick date to the 1990s, and have resurfaced periodically since then. In 2007, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics tested 33 red lipsticks and found that two-thirds of them contained lead — and that one-third exceeded the FDA’s limit for lead in candy. The FDA followed up in 2008 with its own tests on 20 lipsticks and expanded its analysis to include 400 lipstick shades in the most recent study.
But the agency, which posted its latest findings on its Web site in December, said that comparing lipstick to candy is unfair.
“It is not scientifically valid to equate the risk to consumers presented by lead levels in candy, a product intended for ingestion, with that associated with lead levels in lipstick, a product intended for topical use and ingested in much smaller quantities than candy,” the FDA said in its online comments.