Group Flags Fake MAC Lipsticks for Containing Excessive Amounts of Lead

Bogus MAC lipsticks that are sold for just P15 per canister contain elevated levels of lead, a toxic chemical that is not allowed as an ingredient in cosmetic products.

The toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition revealed that nine pieces of counterfeit MAC matte lipsticks bearing the name of American singer and songwriter Mariah Carey, which the group procured from a retail store in Angeles City, had extremely high lead content.

The group bought the fake MAC lipsticks last November 11 from Meisy David Cosmetics and Beauty Products, a retail store located at Rizal St., Lourdes Sur, Angeles City, and had them analyzed for lead using an Olympus Vanta M Series X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer last December 9.

Eight of the nine “MAC” lipsticks are leaded cosmetics with lead content ranging from 97; 4,865; 5,910; 7,880; 8,240; 9,390; 36,110 to 36,200 parts per million (ppm), way in excess of the 20 ppm limit under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.  One sample had 14 ppm of lead.

“We find the extremely high levels of lead in bogus MAC lipsticks very disturbing. Lead accumulates in the human body over time so the repeated application of a leaded lipstick, even at low doses, can end up as a significant exposure for women.  Lead in lipstick can also threaten the health and safety of babies in the womb,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“To protect lipstick consumers, who are mostly women, we urge the authorities to go after those behind the illegal trade and to bring the culprits to justice,” he added.

Lead exposure in women may result in hormonal changes, menstrual irregularities, infertility, miscarriage, pre-eclampsia, pregnancy hypertension, premature birth, low birth weight, and other birth defects.

As per the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), “lead can cross the placental barrier, which means pregnant women who are exposed to lead also expose their unborn child."

“Lead can damage a developing baby’s nervous system. Even low-level lead exposures in developing babies have been found to affect behavior and intelligence,” according to NIOSH.

To protect women and babies in the womb, the EcoWaste Coalition advised consumers to heed the following safety tips to avoid being exposed to lead and other contaminants in cosmetics such as lipsticks:
  • Refrain from buying unauthorized and imitation lipsticks.
  • Use the FDA Verification Portal to check if a product is notified with the agency.
  • Get your lipstick from an authorized dealer 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.
“We also advised adults not to let young children play with lipsticks to avoid potential exposure to lead and other harmful substances,” said Dizon.

To report counterfeits, send an e-mail to FDA at and to MAC Cosmetics at along with helpful information, including store or dealer’s name and address, product name and product details such as product logo or specific designs.

As regards counterfeit MAC products, the EcoWaste Coalition reminded consumers that, according to the company, “M·A·C Cosmetics does not offer its products through individuals, street vendors, flea markets, internet auctions, independent boutiques or unauthorized online retailers. “