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Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2014 Apr;68(3):447-67. doi: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2014.02.003. Epub 2014 Feb 12.

Toxic metals contained in cosmetics: a status report.

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Italian National Institute for Health, Rome, Italy.
Italian National Institute for Health, Rome, Italy. Electronic address:


The persistence of metals in the environment and their natural occurrence in rocks, soil and water cause them to be present in the manufacture of pigments and other raw materials used in the cosmetic industry. Thus, people can be exposed to metals as trace contaminants in cosmetic products they daily use. Cosmetics may have multiple forms, uses and exposure scenarios, and metals contained in them can cause skin local problems but also systemic effects after their absorption via the skin or ingestion. Even this, cosmetics companies are not obliged to report on this kind of impurities and so consumers have no way of knowing about their own risk. This paper reviewed both the concentration of metals in different types of cosmetics manufactured and sold worldwide and the data on metals' dermal penetration and systemic toxicology. The eight metals of concern for this review were antimony (Sb), arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), cobalt (Co), mercury (Hg), nickel (Ni) and lead (Pb). This was because they are banned as intentional ingredients in cosmetics, have draft limits as potential impurities in cosmetics and are known as toxic.


Cosmetics; Dermal exposure; Metals; Systemic effects

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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