Watch Out for Carcinogenic Cadmium in Lipstick

After reporting the presence of lead, a neurotoxin, in some imitation lipsticks, the EcoWaste Coalition today revealed that it has found a lipstick that is laden with cadmium, a carcinogen.

The group revealed that Baolishi #25, which has no cosmetic product notification from the country’s health authorities, contains 2,478 parts per million (ppm) of cadmium based on the screening it conducted using an X-Ray Fluorescence device.

“The cadmium content of this lipstick, which costs only P25, is outrageously way above the 5 ppm trace limit under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive (ACD),” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Cadmium and its compounds, in fact, are not permitted in any cosmetic formulation,” she added.

Cadmium and cadmium compounds, the EcoWaste Coalition said, are listed in Part 1 of Annex II of the ACD, or the “list of substances which must not form part of the composition of cosmetic products.”

“Fortunately, we only found one cadmium-contaminated lipstick in the recent market investigation that saw us buying and screening 100 lipstick  samples for heavy metals,” Lucero said.

“Even so, it is still an issue of concern since cadmium is toxic and cancer-causing.  Also, it is possible that this unregistered lipstick is sold in other parts of the country,” she added.

According to the World Health Organization, “cadmium exerts toxic effects on the kidneys, the skeletal and respiratory systems, and is classified as a human carcinogen.”

Cadmium is among the “ten chemicals of major public health concern,” according to the WHO.

To prevent exposure to cadmium and other heavy metals in lipsticks, the EcoWaste Coalition reiterated its advice to consumers against patronizing products that are not notified with the  Food and Drug Administration (FDA) like the Baolishi lipstick.

According to the FDA, “heavy metals are inherently present in pigments (colorants) and in some raw materials that are used in producing lipsticks... due to natural contamination from the environment, which are unavoidable.”

“Thus the FDA enforces strict compliance to the requirements of current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) for cosmetic products to ensure that possible contaminants are within the allowable limits set by the FDA, consistent with the ACD,” it said.

The FDA has so far authorized more than 100 brands of lipstick with several color variants per brand for the consumers to select from.

To check if a particular product is authorized by the FDA to be sold in the market, consumers can visit the agency’s website at and type the product name on the search bar.