The FDA Has Plans To Crack Down On Lead In Beauty Products

Photographed By Natalia Mantini
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has faced a lot of criticism over the years for turning a blind eye to the problem of lead commonly contained in lipsticks and other cosmetics. Even when 2007 studies conducted by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the government agency itself found potentially harmful levels in at least 61% of mass-market lipstick formulas — even big dogs like L'Oréal and CoverGirl — the FDA failed to take action.

Until this Wednesday, that is, when the agency issued a draft of future guidelines to the lipstick industry. “Lead is a chemical element for which toxicity in humans has been well-documented,” the agency wrote, as reported by The Hill. It now recommends no more than 10 parts per million (ppm) of lead in lip products and other “externally applied cosmetics,” like eyeshadow, shampoo, blush, and body lotion. The guidelines go on to state that anything lower than 10 ppm "would not pose a health risk.”

This is one way of saying that doesn’t mean lead will no longer be found in your favorite lipstick and the fact that there’s any lead in there at all is cause for alarm. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) isn’t exactly satisfied with the new measures. According to Yahoo Beauty, EWG’s senior vice president for government affairs, Scott Faber, said in a statement, “Lead has no place in personal-care products, especially products marketed to children, who are especially vulnerable to the toxic effects of lead. While we welcome renewed attention from [the] FDA, we urge the agency to prohibit the presence of lead in lip products marketed to children and to require a warning on all personal-care products that contain lead.” As we were all reminded by the drinking-water crisis in Flint, Michigan, lead exposure during the critical developmental years can have a detrimental longterm impact.

It’s safe to say that this conversation definitely isn’t over. After all, the FDA’s Cosmetic Act hasn’t been updated since 1938, when the entire makeup and skin-care industry was unregulated. Sounds like it's time for a major refresh.
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