Keep Toxic Ingredients out of Natural Cosmetics

Target: Nick Vlahos, CEO of Burt’s Bees

Goal: Urge Burt’s Bees to keep toxic heavy metals out of its cosmetics products

Burt’s Bees is a company that brands itself as family-friendly. The labels boast that its products contain “natural” and “organic” ingredients. These labels are misleading because the terms “natural” and “organic” have become synonymous with “safe” and “healthy” in the minds of consumers. Many people are unaware that there are natural toxins in these products that can be extremely harmful to the body, especially when used daily.

In 2007 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tested lead levels in hundreds of lipstick products. One of the Burt’s Bees lip shimmers ranked near the top of the list with a shocking 2.81 ppm (parts per million) of lead. The list also included several other Burt’s Bees lip shimmer products. Overexposure to lead can have many negative effects on adults’ health including impaired cognitive functioning, migraines, hindered motor skills and reaction time, weakness and impotence. Children are even more sensitive to toxin overexposure, with significant educational and behavioral consequences for their development.

The FDA’s recommended maximum lead content in candy is 0.1 ppm. Why, then, is an amount 28 times greater than this allowed in lipstick? Lipstick often needs to be re-applied because it rubs off onto the food we eat and it is ingested when we lick our lips, giving lipstick junkies constant doses of lead. Another important point is ironically stated directly on Burt’s Bees website: “Your skin is a sponge.” They go on to point out that 60% of ingredients that you put on your skin are absorbed by your body.

Cosmetics manufacturers can source ingredients without including lead, but many including Burt’s Bees refuse  to do what’s best for their customers. The FDA does not appear motivated to reign in toxic metal use in cosmetics, so we must start with the manufacturers themselves. Urge Burt’s Bees to end its use of lead and other toxic ingredients in its lip shimmers and other body products.


Dear Mr. Vlahos,

Burt’s Bees is built around a philosophy of doing what is best for our bodies by using the best ingredients. On your company’s website you state that skin is like a sponge, which is true. And yet your lip shimmer products contain lead, which is a big disappointment as it goes against everything your company stands for. This lead content is at roughly 28 times the FDA’s maximum recommended amount of lead in candy. This is not only a concern for adults who use your products daily and are constantly being exposed to lead, but also for young kids still developing and for pregnant women who are exposing their unborn children to these detrimental heavy metals.

This is a problem widespread in the cosmetics industry. Burt’s Bees is popular largely because of the positive ideal it promotes. This branding is extremely misleading to consumers who just want to be healthy and assume that your “natural” products are free from harmful toxins. Burt’s Bees can take their products a step further by ending the use of lead. The company would benefit because consumers would no doubt appreciate having their long-term health taken into account, and in turn this would bring in more profit. Making such an ethical move would also set an example for other cosmetics companies to follow.

Please take this to heart and consider the many ways you can make Burt’s Bees a healthier and safer company for us all. Refrain from using lead and other toxic, heavy metals in your cosmetic products.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Sara O’Malley via Flickr

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