EcoWaste Coalition Finds Counterfeit MAC Lipsticks Contaminated with Lead (Group Warns Consumers vs Lead-Tainted Fake MAC Lipsticks)

Lead-tainted fake MAC lipsticks
Counterfeit MAC lipsticks sold for P25-60 each by retailers of imitation cosmetics in Divisoria's bargain shopping malls.
Consumer beware: That cheap, high-end MAC lipstick that you bought in Divisoria could be loaded with lead, a dangerous chemical.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit toxics watch group, aired its latest warning against poison lipsticks after detecting lead up to 22,700  parts per million (ppm) in 11 samples of unbelievably cheap MAC lipsticks costing only P25 to P60 each .

Following the recent issuance by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last March 5 of a public health advisory against the use of counterfeit MAC lipsticks, the EcoWaste Coalition went to Divisoria to obtain samples from retailers of imitation cosmetics at 168 Shopping Mall, 999 Shopping Mall and Divisoria Shopping Mall.

The FDA had warned that counterfeit products pose potential health hazards due to the contamination of heavy metals such as lead and mercury or from other ingredients that are not permitted in cosmetic formulations.

“The results of our investigation confirm that lead is lurking in some fake MAC lipsticks, posing health risks to consumers, especially to women,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.  

“Lead accumulates in the human body over time so the repeated application of a lipstick laced with lead, even at low amounts, can end up as a significant exposure for women,” he explained.

“Consumers who go to Divisoria and other bargain hubs to get high-end imitation beauty products may actually be buying poison cosmetics,” he warned.

Lead exposure in women may result in hormonal changes, menstrual irregularities, infertility, miscarriage, pre-eclampsia, pregnancy hypertension, and premature birth, Dizon added.

Out of the 27 MAC lipsticks bought and analyzed, 11  were found to contain lead above the maximum limit of 20 ppm set under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.  A handheld X-Ray Fluorescence analyzer was used to screen the samples for lead.

Among those found contaminated with lead were MAC  Mariah Carey #01 with 22,700 ppm lead;  MAC Zac Posen Rudy Woo #12, 10,100 ppm lead; MAC Zac Posen Kinda Sexy #14, 4,505 ppm lead; MAC Zac Posen Girl About Town, #08, 4,215 ppm lead; MAC High Society,  197 ppm lead; MAC Nouvelle Vogue, 187 ppm lead; and MAC Fireworks #A16 with 55 ppm lead. 

Traces of mercury were also detected in two samples.

While negative for lead and mercury, the other 14 samples may not be entirely safe to use as these may contain other chemical and microbial contaminants that can harm human health, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

To prevent exposure to lead and other contaminants in lipstick, the EcoWaste Coalition advised consumers to consider the following safety tips:

--- Verify if the item has the required cosmetic product notification through the FDA website (

--- Buy from authorized retailers and ask for an official receipt.

--- If the price looks too good to be true, the product is most likely a counterfeit.

--- Use less, especially if the product is not guaranteed as lead-free.

----Don’t let children play with lipstick.

According to the company, “MAC Cosmetics does not offer its products through individuals, street vendors, flea markets, Internet auctions, independent boutiques or unauthorized online retailers.”