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J Cosmet Sci. 2012 May-Jun;63(3):159-76.

Determination of total lead in 400 lipsticks on the U.S. market using a validated microwave-assisted digestion, inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometric method.

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Office of Cosmetics and Colors, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, College Park, MD 20740, USA.


In 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published lead (Pb) content results from a small survey of 20 tube lipsticks with red shades using a validated inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometric (ICP-MS) method developed by FDA chemists. The study was prompted by a media report suggesting that potential exposure to lead from lipsticks under conditions of ordinary use might be harmful. The FDA has since investigated the lead content of tube lipsticks by conducting an expanded survey that included a variety of shades and manufacturers, at varying prices. The purposes of the expanded survey were to ascertain the levels of lead in lipsticks sold on the U.S. market, to identify any categories of lipstick with elevated levels of lead, and to compare the results to those from the initial small survey. Four hundred lipsticks available on the U.S. market in the spring of 2010 were tested for total lead content using the FDA's validated method. The analyses were performed by a private laboratory contracted by the FDA. The maximum lead level found was 7.19 mg Pb/kg. Thirteen of the 400 lipsticks were found to contain levels greater than 3.06 mg Pb/kg, the highest amount found in the initial survey. The average lead concentration found in the expanded survey was 1.11 mg Pb/kg, which was very close to the average of 1.07 mg Pb/kg found in the initial survey. Some statistically significant associations between lead level and parent company were found. The contract requirements, testing procedures, and findings from the expanded survey are described here.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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