In the Obama Administration’s FY 2016 Budget the FDA reported that they intend to respond to a four-year-old industry petition asking for a maximum safe limit on trace metal lead in cosmetic products, primarily lipsticks. The FDA expects to meet the March 2015 deadline, imposed by Congress, hopefully bringing to rest the ongoing debate –is lead in lipstick harmful?

Over the years the FDA has released several reports investigating the presence of lead in lipstick and have repeatedly found that the level found pose “no safety concern.” However, they have refrained from issuing guidance resisting pressure from Congress who strongly believes that an official position from the Agency on a safe lead limit would prove most beneficial easing public concerns.

Here are four important facts to remember:

  • Lead is not intentionally added to cosmetics, it is sometimes present in trace amounts often due to the color additives products contain
  • The FDA caps lead content at 10ppm to 20ppm for color additives used in cosmetics, food, drugs and medical devices, and it has published guidance for maximum lead levels in “generally recognized as safe” food ingredients.
  • In 2011, the Personal Care Products Council urged the FDA to set a maximum 10-ppm limit for lead in lipstick and other cosmetics via a citizen petition filed with the FDA
  • A small amount of lead in lipstick is not a safety concern

As cosmetics companies and manufactures await the FDA’s response, industry groups charge that they remain vulnerable to opposition from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. Although the FDA conducted a test of more than 400 lipstick products and found no consumer safety risks, it is best that the industry and Congress pressure the FDA to respond to ease any remaining concerns and prevent any future concerns.

1938 is the online magazine blog for Well-Kept Beauty, formally entitled Primer.

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