Demand That Cosmetics Be Free of Toxic Metals

Target: The Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg

Goal: Mandate that cosmetics be free of toxic metals

There’s new reason to watch our mouths. Following up on “The Poison Kiss,” an investigation into lead contamination in lipstick by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the Food and Drug Administration set levels of lead at 0.1 ppm (parts per million) for beauty products. Yet, according to a recent article in the New York Times, research has detected not just lead but manganese, cobalt, cadmium, aluminum, titanium, and chromium in lipstick. While titanium oxide and aluminum are FDA-approved, the article’s sources say the other metals are most likely contaminants.

Worse to consider is exactly what most studies have yet to test and health-based standards fail to address —  estimated exposure against consequent health effects. Some studies show that people re-apply lipstick up to 24 times a day, a disquieting statistic since neurotoxic metals like lead accumulate in bodily tissues over time. And this statistic does not even measure how much of the product is actually ingested on a daily basis.

The good news: according to Dr. Palfrey, director of Boston University Medical Center’s poison prevention program, the wide variations in levels of metals among lipstick brands and colors suggest that cosmetic companies can ultimately control the concentrations of toxic metals in their products. By his account, companies can easily take out trace amounts of metals ‘in a situation where they don’t know and we don’t know what’s good for them.’

By signing the petition below, you can demand safe cosmetics that are free of not only of toxic metals, but contaminants that are unnecessary in the first place. Tell the FDA that beauty must be made safe.


Dear Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg,

I want to bring attention to recent research’s findings of lead and other toxic metals in cosmetics. Regarding lipstick in particular, studies have detected manganese, cobalt, cadmium, and chromium in lipstick. These metals are essentially contaminants that serve little purpose in the product but pose serious health risks to consumers.

Looking more closely at estimated exposure suggests devastating health consequences for metal contamination. Studies record people re-applying lipstick up to 24 times a day. Given that lead and other neurotoxic metals accumulate in bodily tissues over time, this alarming statistic demands not only further research, but immediate investigation into their inclusion in the first place.

For the New York Times, Boston University Medical Center’s Director of the Poison Prevention Programs determines that the wide variety in concentrations of these metals suggests companies can ultimately control the amount of metals in their products. I urge you and your agency to mandate that cosmetics be free of toxic metals and inform the public of both the inherent risks in cosmetics and provide guidelines on ways to protect themselves from further exposure, such as checking ingredient labels. Beauty does not have to come at the cost of public health.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Yel Ison via

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One Comment

  1. Signed ! Please will you sign this petition too!

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