There’s Lead in Your Lipstick…but don’t be scared!

lead in your lipstick

Lead is known to affect children’s developing nerves and brains. It may also cause problems in adults like reduced memory loss, mood disorders and lowered fertility.

However, it is the amount of exposure that makes lead toxic. At a high enough level, almost everything can cause problems.

So what are lead amounts in lipstick?

About 1mg in 1kg of lipstick or 1 part per million (yup, that tiny). That’s the average value found in an FDA study published May/June 2012. Shown here is a list of lipsticks and lead ppm’s.

These amounts come from pigments used to give lipsticks their vibrant colors. Pink shades were shown to have the highest followed by purple shades and then red shades. This is unavoidable (at least for now); a lot of these are inorganic pigments obtained from the earth where radioactive Radon gas in the earth’s crust decomposes into lead.

Notice that this is a natural process, doesn’t mean it can’t kill you though. Natural isn’t always good, natural isn’t…

Removing all the lead is extremely hard; processes currently used involve hydrofluoric acid which is such a strong acid that it can destroy the pigmentation if used excessively. The good news is that even if you happened to swallow your tube of lipstick (which is about 3 grams excluding packaging) your body could easily excrete the lead present without any, or very little ending up being stored in your blood or bones. I don’t know why anyone would swallow lipstick though but different strokes for different folks.

Some fear isn’t unfounded; some manufacturers especially in countries without strong regulatory bodies may use pigments with much higher lead levels because they are cheaper and provide excellent staying power. Those you should definitely avoid. However, I don’t see lead in lipstick being the cause of lead poisoning. It is much more likely to occur from environmental pollution, inhaling fumes from burning leaded petrol, leaded paints etc.


Eating foods rich in vitamin C and chlorophyll (green leafy vegetables) can help the body excrete lead. Try a kale-orange-pineapple smoothie with some yogurt once a week. I love eet!

There are alternatives from organic sources like carmine (crushed beetles). However, these organic pigments usually don’t have the color variety we’ve come to fall in love with  and may come with scents that may not be favorable.

But what do you think? Do the alternatives sound attractive to you? Do you think the lead amounts in lipstick are a cause for concern? Please sound off below!

0 Did you love this post?

Love to be emailed content like this?

Subscribe then! What are you waiting for?
First Name
Email address