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Ingredients in Your Lipstick – Is Your Health At Risk?



Lipstick ingredients in many cases are a noxious blend of petroleum based chemicals, many of which have not been thoroughly tested for safety. A number of these ingredients may cause allergic reactions or interfere with your body's hormones. Some can even harm important body systems like your nervous system and immune system.

Who would have ever thought that the pretty colors that help you look beautiful can actually cause harm? The truth of the matter is that many of the ingredients that color your lipstick are derived from coal tar, which causes cancer. Now, these color ingredients may not themselves be known to cause cancer, but a great deal of them have not been adequately tested to determine if they're safe.

Most of the color ingredients in your lipstick that give you an amazing number of shades to choose from are D&C and FD&C colors, i.e. artificial colors. However, the majority of the time, the D&C and FD&C are left off the label so you'll see the color listed something like "Orange 5" or "Blue 1 Lake."

Why should this matter to you?

The FDA has approved D&C Colors for drugs and cosmetics but not for food. So they can't be used in things you eat. Now, in spite of the fact that lipstick is a cosmetic and not a food, everyone who wears it eats it. Every time you lick your lips, you're eating a little bit of lipstick. In fact, "in the June 2002 issue of Glamour magazine it was reported that women inadvertently ingest about 4 pounds of lipstick in their lifetime."

The other artificial colors used in lipstick, FD&C Colors, have been approved by the FDA for food, drugs and cosmetics.

D&C and FD&C Colors are regulated by the FDA, but only in terms of the amount of the toxic metals, lead and arsenic, they contain. D&C Colors may not contain more than 20 ppm [parts per million] of lead and arsenic. FD&C Colors are limited to 10 ppm.

Lead and arsenic are poisonous. So, every time you lick your lips you may be getting a small dose of these noxious chemicals.

Tests done on a number of different lipstick brands in 2007 for the presence of lead found that in over half of the brands tested the level of lead was more than what's allowed in candy. More recently, the FDA tested 22 brands of lipstick and found lead in every single one and at even higher levels than the 2007 study! Nevertheless, the FDA considers the lead detected in the lipstick tested to be harmless. However, considering that lead accumulates in your body, and even minute amounts of lead in lipstick can lead to harm, do you want to be adding lead to your body every time you lick your lips?

It's important to note here that the certification of D&C and FD&C Colors does not address any other harmful effects these colors may have on your body. For example, neither the D&C nor FD&C Colors are checked to determine if they cause allergic reactions, are skin irritants, whether they're toxic to your nervous system or reproductive system or even cause cancer.

In addition, a great deal of what you put on your skin is absorbed directly into your bloodstream. This fact is NOT taken into consideration in the standards for D&C Colors, which allow twice as much of the toxic lead and arsenic as the FD&C Colors. 

Avoid these D&C Colors commonly found in lipstick:

•    Orange 5
•    Orange 5 Lake 
•    Red 6
•    Red 6 Lake
•    Red 7 Lake
•    Red 21
•    Red 21 Lake
•    Red 27
•    Red 27 Lake
•    Red 30 Lake
•    Red 33 Lake

Stay away from these FD&C Color ingredients found in lipstick as well:

•    Blue 1 Lake
•    Yellow 5 Lake
•    Yellow 6 Lake

This is just a sampling of the kinds of color ingredients you may find in your lipstick. When you check the ingredients list on your lipstick, you may find other color ingredients that are not listed here, but should be avoided. For example, it's best to pass up any lipsticks that contain any color ingredients with a number after it, or with a number and "lake."

Also, there are other harmful ingredients in your lipstick besides colors. These include xenoestrogens or endocrine disruptors, which interfere with your hormones. Some common ones found in lipstick are parabens. Methylparaben and propylparaben are the ones most frequently found in lipstick.

Another kind of ingredient you want to pass up is the penetration enhancer. It causes more of the ingredients in your lipstick to be absorbed into your body. An example of a common penetration enhancer found in lipstick as well as other cosmetic products is propylene glycol.

By now, you're probably wondering how you're supposed to protect yourself.

Here's a simple way to get started using healthier lipstick and cosmetic products:

Check the ingredients list for the chemicals listed above when you shop for lipstick as well as all your other cosmetic products. Then choose only those products that are free of these harmful ingredients. You may need a magnifying to read the tiny print. Do this and you'll be off to a good start.

© 2009 Christine H. Farlow, D.C., "The Ingredients Investigator." Learn more and find resources to help you choose safe and healthy lipstick and cosmetic products in the Free Report, "The 10 Worst Chemicals In Cosmetics And Personal Care Products You Absolutely Must Stay Away From"!



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©2009 Christine H. Farlow, D.C., "The Ingredients Investigator"