Got Lipstick? There's Probably Some Lead In It

Back in 2007, the Food & Drug Administration did a small sample test on 33 lipsticks and found varying levels of lead in two-thirds of them. As a follow-up, the FDA requested testing of a significantly larger sampling and has now announced that it found at least trace amounts of lead in 400 varieties.

The lipstick with the highest amount of lead was Maybelline’s Color Sensational shade #125 “Pink Petal,” which came in at 7.19 parts per million.

In fact, Maybelline’s parent company L’Or√©al had five of the ten most lead-laden lipsticks on the list. Also filling in that top 10 were two lipsticks each from NARS and Cover Girl and one from Stargazer.

All lipsticks in the top 10 had lead counts greater than 4ppm. 177 of the lipsticks had lead concentrations of at least 1ppm.

While there is no federal standard for lead in lipstick, the FDA limit for lead in candy is .1 parts per million. Yet 380 of the 400 lipsticks were found to contain at least that much lead.

However, the FDA does not consider the two products to be comparable.

“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,” writes the agency.

The cosmetics industry’s feeling on lead content is that anything below 10ppm for lipstick is fine, which would mean that all the items on the FDA list pass that test. However, California law would require any lipstick containing greater than 5ppm to be labeled with a warning.

Only the top two lipsticks — the aforementioned Maybelline and L’Or√©al Colour Riche #410 “Volcanic,” with a lead concentration of 7.00ppm — would be over that threshold.

Here are the 15 lipsticks with the most lead. Go to for the full list:

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