Skip to main content Skip to header navigation

Lipstick metals toxic?


A new study says repeatedly priming your pout with lipstick or lip gloss could be dangerous.


Listen up, ladies. Before you re-apply another layer of lipstick or lip gloss, pay attention to a new report that found your favorite tint could expose you to dangerous metals.

According to a University of California-Berkeley’s School of Public Health study, lipstick may include cadmium, a highly toxic element that has been associated with renal failure. Scientists found traces of nine metals in 32 lipsticks and glosses. While none of the products had amounts of metals that exceeded public health standards, they could pose a threat depending on how much they are re-applied.

The researchers say that women using the products could receive as much as a fifth of their acceptable daily dose of some of the metals if they apply the products more than twice a day. The study was published today in Environmental Health Perspectives.

“If this were the only exposure it wouldn’t be a problem, but when you add it to other exposures it is a problem,” said study co-author S. Katharine Hammond, an environmental scientist at UC Berkeley.

Linda Loretz, chief toxicologist for the Personal Care Products Council, the leading cosmetics industry trade group, disagrees.

“I don’t see anything that is a safety concern or anything that is new or unexpected,” she said.

Loretz pointed out that several metals are elements of human nutrition, such as chromium. She said that the average daily intake of that element is 100 times the amount that is found in lipsticks and lip glosses. Titanium and aluminum—also in the products—are common ingredients approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Just how much are we priming our pouts?

The study found that the average user applies lipstick 2.3 times daily and ingests 24 milligrams each day, while a heavy user applies it as many as 14 times daily and takes in 83 milligrams.

Related topics

Best hot-pink lipsticks to try now
Before you go bold: Best lip exfoliates
Madonna’s new signature lip color? It’s Make Up For Ever Aqua Rouge

Leave a Comment