Educating Today... For a Better Tomorrow
LIPSTICKS CONTAINING LEAD O
ver the past year, I’ve been doing a lot of reading on cosmetics for a couple of reasons, none of them being that I wear or wish I did use them :). One of the reasons for my interest is I believe cosmetics contributed to my mother’s early death. Cosmetics didn’t cause the original problem (a form of kidney disease), but given the impaired kidney function that went undetected for so long, combined with her desire to always be well presented and the products she used to do so, they surely wouldn’t have helped. I hate to think how many days of my mother’s life were spent “putting her face on” – but more importantly, the hundreds of pounds of cosmetics she used over the years in various forms – all in direct contact with her skin, and many being absorbed into her body. What I’ve learned has not only confirmed the above, but has also made me realize just how much the cosmetics industry has contributed to the production of environmental toxins: the plastics, the packaging… and the ingredients. For example, a report on lipsticks carried out by the Campaign for Safer Cosmetics states a third of brand-name lipsticks tested exceeded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s 0.1 ppm limit for lead in candy. Like candy, lipstick is also ingested. I can’t remember the exact figures, but a woman who wears lipstick 5 days a week over 20 years winds up ingesting a couple of pounds of the stuff. There is no safe level for lead; it causes environmental and health problems even at low levels, particularly to infants, young children and pregnant women. Lead can come from many sources and tends to accumulate in the body, so it should be avoided wherever possible. If a product you ingest/apply to your skin contains lead, what
doesn’t accumulate in the body is excreted or washed off, so it winds up in our waterways. Then there are all those millions of small chunks of lipstick that are thrown away annually. Aside from lead, many lipsticks contain synthetics, colors and petroleum based waxes. And this is something put around the mouth? Incredible. The news about lead in lipstick is another good reason women should take particular care in what they apply to their skin. These days, there’s a wide range of competitively priced natural cosmetic product alternatives available – including lipsticks. The Internet is a really good tool for locating these more human and environmentally friendly items by searching using terms such as “organic” and “natural” followed by the type of product. Having located products of interest, still be cautious – check the ingredients list and run further searches on those components. If you were to go through the cosmetics you currently own, you might be in for a bit of a shock at the laboratory you find in your makeup supplies. Even many hair products and shampoos are toxic chemical cocktails. Unlike some other environmental issues, cosmetics are an area you can certainly have a high degree of control over. If enough consumers protest by spending their makeup dollars elsewhere on more natural and organic products, the cosmetic companies using these toxic ingredients will sit up and take notice.
Michael Bloch publishes Green Living Tips, an online resource powered by renewable energy offering a wide variety of Earth friendly tips and environment related news to help consumers reduce costs, consumption and environmental impact.www.greenlivingtips.com
VISTA MAGAZINE ISSUE 97
By Michael Bloch