THE BLOG

The Lead Carpet: Who's Going to Lose?

02/26/2012 06:39 pm ET | Updated Oct 11, 2012
  • Nancy Chuda Founder of LuxEco Living and Healthy Child Healthy World

Lead in her Lipstick? Not Meryl! Not in real life. But as Margaret Thatcher it seems to fit the character.

According to a new FDA study, the media highlighted a federal analysis revealing that approximately 400 shades of popular lipsticks contained trace amounts of lead. Of the top ten most toxic lipsticks, five were made by L'Oreal and Maybelline, both owned by L'Oreal; two were made by Cover Girl and two were made by NARS. With popular brands topping this list, many media outlets have picked up the story, asking both cosmetic manufacturers and federal regulators, how safe are our lipsticks?

Lead in lipstick brings new meaning to the glam in glamour at this year's Oscar celebrations as many of the contenders vying for best actress are being seen in the most dangerous color. Red!

Lead -- a proven neurotoxin -- is a heavy metal known to be harmful to the developing brain, even when exposures are too low to cause obvious signs and symptoms.

The FDA study reveals the most toxic lipstick was found to contain a lead level of 7.19 parts per million (ppm) -- a significant increase since the last FDA study in 2007. To put this number in context, the current maximum allowable lead level in drinking water is 15 parts per billion (ppb).

According to Dr. Philip Landrigan, who spearheaded the removal of lead, a toxic chemical, in paint and gasoline in 1978, as a result, 30 years later, this discovery has produced a 95 percent decline in childhood lead poisoning, increased the average IQ by six points, and saved the U.S. government $200 billion each year.

But should we be concerned with hollywood's vested images in promoting a fatal attraction to the color red?

While consumer advocate groups argue that no level of lead is safe -- as exposure builds up over time as lipstick is used -- the FDA believes otherwise. "The levels we found are within the limits recommended by other public health authorities for lead in cosmetics," they said.

But we all know the race for Oscar is fraught with a competition which means more than just the color of lipstick. This year's contenders will walk the red carpet unknowing that even the smallest amounts of lead can cause brain damage in infants and children. Dr. Landrigan strongly recommends that women avoid any lipstick that contains lead. "A child's vulnerability to lead is greatest in the nine months of pregnancy -- causing damage to the developing brain during the earliest weeks, before a woman is even sure that she is pregnant."

At tonight's event the price for fame comes with the misfortune of learning that the cosmetic industry will go to great lengths to make you think that beauty is not ONLY skin deep. But a walk on The Lead Carpet may prove that all that glitter is not worth the price for gold.

This post first appeared on LuxEcoLiving.com.