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FDA warns that popular clay face mask contains high levels of lead

Meagan Morris is an entertainment and lifestyle journalist living in New York City. In addition to SheKnows, Morris contributes to many publications including The New York Times, Yahoo! News, PopEater, NBC New York and Spinner. Follow he...

A 'detox' bentonite clay product sold at Target found with 'poisonous' levels of lead

On January 29, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about a popular clay mask sold in several large retailers, including Target and Sally Beauty Supply.

"Consumers should not purchase or use 'Bentonite Me Baby'," the FDA said in its statement. "Anyone who has used this product or provided it to a child should consult a health care professional immediately."

The reason: It poses a "potential lead poisoning risk."

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The investigation into the product created by Alikay Naturals started after a Minnesota woman noticed the product was touted as both a mask for the skin and hair and a "detoxifying" treatment for the inside of the body.

"The jar just caught my eye," Megan Curran de Nieto told the MinnPost of seeing it at Target. Curran de Nieto is the director for a non-profit that works to reduce the public's exposure to lead.

She bought a jar and sent it off for testing and was startled with the results. The Bentonite Me Baby had lead levels at 29 parts per million, way over the 0.1 parts per million the FDA sets as the limit for products that could be consumed by children.

"That finding scared me," said Curran de Nieto. "We all know that this is not a product that is marketed to kids, but a pregnant woman could have this in their home."

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Both Target and Sally Beauty Supply have removed the products from shelves, but the maker behind the product claims it's not intended for internal use and that they "never provided recommendations or recipes for the internal consumption." It's also not found on the company's official website with its other products.

Except that the jar Curran de Nieto purchased clearly said it "works to aid in colon and detox cleansing to remove harmful toxins from the body, which helps many things including raising energy levels."

Other products containing bentonite clay haven't been tested — and that won't necessarily change. However, actresses like Gwyneth Paltrow and Shailene Woodley tout the benefits of consuming clay and this could lead to potential problems if other brands have similar lead levels.

"Be very aware of anything that you’re taking, and carefully consider if that product is serving you in your best interest," Stephanie Yendell, supervisor of the health risk intervention unit at the Minnesota Department of Health told the MinnPost, adding that, even if it was used as a treatment in ancient times, "the way such medicines were prepared a thousand years ago is very different from the way they are prepared today in an industrialized setting."

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