11 February 2014

Pre-Valentine Warning: Lipstick Could Spell Trouble for Lovers and the Environment, Too


Be cautious on what you put on your lips as there may be poisons lurking in your lipstick.

The EcoWaste Coalition issued this pre-Valentine warning against lipstick products that may contain health-damaging chemical ingredients and impurities such as arsenic, lead and mercury, which are listed in the “top ten chemicals of major public health concern” and the “dirty dozen list of endocrine disruptors.”

Joining the environmental health advocates in today’s press briefing entitled "Poison Kiss" were Miss Philippines Earth 2013 Angelee Claudett de los Reyes and Miss Philippines Earth-Fire 2013 Miss Alma Cabasal.

 “Arsenic, lead and mercury in lipstick may be absorbed or ingested when you lick or wet your lips, drink and eat while wearing a tainted lipstick, or when you kiss or lock lips with someone wearing one,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“While instant adverse effect is not expected, be forewarned that chronic long-term exposure to toxic metals even at low doses could harm a person’s health,” she emphasized.

“Hazardous chemicals in lipstick and other cosmetics take their toll on the environment, too, as these are washed down the drain and into the water system,” she added.
In its latest bid to promote chemical safety and healthy lifestyle, the toxics watchdog screened 70 pieces of lipsticks costing P7 to P80 each that were purchased on February 7 from 13 discount shops in Divisoria and Quiapo, Manila City, and in  Baclaran in Parañaque and Pasay Cities.

The samples were screened for toxic metals with a portable X-Ray Fluorescence device using the following allowable limits under the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive as reference: 1 part per million (ppm) for mercury, 5 ppm for arsenic and 20 ppm for lead.

At the press briefing, the EcoWaste Coalition reported that 27 of the 70 samples of lipstick (39%) were found to contain detectable levels of one or more heavy metals above the ASEAN limits.

I.  Lead in Lipstick

The top 10 samples with the highest levels of lead were Baolishi #20 (green case) with 18,500 ppm, Baolishi #20 (golden case) 15,600 ppm, Baolishi #20 (yellow case) 14,000 ppm, Baolishi #20 (red case) 3,337 ppm, Baolishi #20 (yellow case) 3,258 ppm, Monaliza #20 (pink case) 2,796 ppm, Monaliza #20 (golden case) 2,613 ppm, Monaliza #20 (with cartoon case) 2,142 ppm, Kiss Beauty #7 383 ppm, Kiss Beauty #8 208 ppm and Miss Beauty #7 with 72 ppm.

Lead, the EcoWaste Coalition warned, could build up in the body over time and that leaded lipstick applied several times a day, combine with lead from other sources such as lead paint and dust, could add up to considerable exposure levels.

Lead exposure among women has been linked to miscarriage, premature birth, reduced fertility, menstrual irregularities and other reproductive disorders.  Lead easily traverses the placenta and enters the fetal brain, obstructing normal development. 

II. Mercury in Lipstick

Mercury, another potent neurotoxin like lead, was found the highest in Popa #12 with 90 ppm, Kaixi Beauty #60 with 85 ppm and Chanleevi #04 with 88 ppm. 

Pregnant women are very much at risk from the toxic effects of mercury, which a mother can pass to the developing fetus.  Mercury is known to concentrate in the fetal brain, disrupting the brain development and causing lifelong health problems.

III.  Arsenic in Lipstick

High levels of arsenic, a human carcinogen, was detected in Baolishi #20 (green case) with 497 ppm, Baolishi #20 (golden case) 450 ppm and Baolishi #20 (yellow case) with 421 ppm.

Exposure to arsenic over a long period can result to chronic arsenic poisoning and associated health problems such as skin lesions, peripheral neuropathy, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer.
Subsequent check at the website of the Food and Drugs Administration showed that none of tainted samples are listed in the agency’s list of notified cosmetics.

To prevent exposure to toxic metals in cosmetics such as lipstick products, the EcoWaste Coalition advised consumers to:

1.  Assert your right to information and refrain from buying and using inadequately labeled lipstick.  A duly-registered lipstick will provide the following information in English: product name, ingredients, net content, instruction on usage, batch number, special precautions if any, and country of manufacture/importer.

 2.  Visit the FDA website (
www.fda.gov.ph) to see if the lipstick has market authorization from the agency.
3.  Limit use of lipstick (and other cosmetics like make-up, nail polish and perfume) to special occasions to minimize exposure to disclosed (as well as undisclosed) product ingredients.




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