Better Red Than...

First they went after our children. Now they are going after our very red lips—at least those of us who make our lips “maximum red,” “true red,” or “positive red.” That’s right: they’ve poisoned our lipstick—this according to a new study by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

Regrets to all you xenophobes out there—it’s not China this time. The cosmetics in question are manufactured right here in the United States. Some of the lipstick studied was purchased in Minneapolis. L’Oreal, Cover Girl and Dior Addict lipsticks topped the list of alleged lead-stick manufacturers.

We reached a woman at L’Oreal with an accent that suggested sophistication—French, perhaps? She gave us no quotes but sent us a statement:

"The L'Oreal Group is committed to upholding the highest standards of safety for all the products it makes and sells. Each and every ingredient used in our products has been thoroughly reviewed and tested by our internal safety team made up of toxicologists, clinicians, pharmacists and physicians.”

All told, more than 33 brand name lipsticks tested by the registered detectable amounts of lead with none of those products listing lead as an ingredient.

The FDA has established a limit on the ingredient lead—for candy. By that measure (0.1 parts per million), fully one third of the lipsticks tested by the Safe Cosmetics folks exceeded this limit, with the top offender, L’Oreal Colour Riche “True Red” coming in at 0.65 parts per million.

Glamour magazine reported in 2002 that women eat roughly 4 lbs of lipstick in a lifetime.

Surely women are buying and wearing most of the lipstick in the United States—but in this story the children still get their lead. Lead is particularly adept at traveling through the placenta from mom to fetus. And according to A 2004 Mintel International Group study, 63% of seven to 10-year-olds wear lipstick.

Pucker up, America—better red than dead. Wait…