Study may make you think twice about lipstick

Here at SFBay, we love our lipstick.

A new UC Berkeley study, though, is making us think twice about using this possibly toxic rouge on our precious lips.

The study, published this month in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found that long-term exposure to certain heavy metals found in cosmetics like lipstick and lip gloss could lead to kidney damage and even cancer.

UC Berkeley researchers tested 32 popular brands of lipsticks and lip glosses and found they contained lead, cadmium, chromium and aluminum.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the level of lead content found in lipstick during studies in 2007 and 2010. But one of the study’s researchers, S. Katharine Hammond, told The Daily Cal she didn’t  fully agree with their findings:

“Lead was not present (in the lipsticks) at the high levels that would lead to a concern. However, we also know that lead has a history that the more we study it, the more we see health effects happening at lower and lower levels. So there is no completely safe level of lead.”

Our bodies can absorb these metals on a short-term basis with no adverse effects, though researcher Sa Liu argues that the danger lies in the long-term use of cosmetics containing these metals:

“We don’t want to cause any panic in the users or consumers. We don’t think it will cause any harm in the short term, but the more you use and the longer you use it, the more likely a person may get overexposed (to the metals) and potentially be taking higher risk for adverse effects.”

People likely to experience negative health effects following exposure to these metals include younger children, people with compromised kidney functions or those with diabetes.

The study did not find a specific brand or product type to be more toxic than the next.

Meanwhile, an industry researcher did not find the study provided any new or alarming information. Linda Loretz, a chief toxicologist for the Personal Care Products Council, said in a press release:

“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.”

Either way, you end up ingesting whatever lipstick that doesn’t already end up on the edge of your glass, a napkin or your lover’s face.