It's a dangerous substance. It contains chemicals and toxins that are alarming. It's packed with matter that is revolting. What is it? It's that pretty poison known as lipstick. Here's how something so attractive can have such an ugly side.
Get the lead out
Many lipstick brands are packed with lead. This substance is not added to the lipstick, but is a byproduct of the manufacturing or coloration process. Even with FDA approval, government authorization is no guarantee that lipsticks can be used safely. Unfortunately, cosmetics are among the least rigorously FDA-regulated products. According to a study by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, more than half of 33 lipstick brands studied contained risky levels of lead.
If you're using lipstick, you're also ingesting lead. The more you continue to apply it during the day, the more of it enters your bloodstream through your lips' skin. What's to worry about with such slight exposure? The problem is that the damage is cumulative. Over time, even minuscule amounts of lead in the body can escalate to a hazardous level. A neurotoxin, lead can negatively impact the nerves, possibly causing brain damage, and behavioral, learning and language problems. Additionally, it can lower IQ, trigger hormonal imbalance, delay puberty's onset, and even cause infertility and miscarriage.
You're basically putting oil on your face when you use any petrochemical-based cosmetics – and lipstick is no exception. Petrolatum is one of the most commonly used petrochemicals in lipsticks. It often is rife with impurities associated with cancer, among other heath concerns.
Parabens are also petroleum-based substances. They can disrupt hormones, cause premature aging and have been located in breast cancer tumors. When choosing a lipstick, scan the label for common petrochemical ingredients including benzylparaben, butylparaben, isobutylparaben, methylparaben and propylparaben. Additionally, the lipstick may also contain the known carcinogens, bismuth oxychloride and formaldehyde.
Cochineal beetles enjoy dining on South America's prickly pear cactus. According to "The New York Times," when the beetles have had their fill of cactus juice, they're scraped off the plant, boiled, dried, crushed, and added to a red dye that's used in lipstick and blush. By 2011, cosmetic companies were required to reveal any insect ingredients in their makeup.
Heavy metal madness
In a troubling new study published in the journal, "Environmental Health Perspectives," it was indicated that nine heavy metals – including cadmium, chromium, aluminum, and manganese – were present in all lipsticks and glosses analyzed. Researchers studied eight lipsticks and 24 lip glosses culled from department stores, chain specialty stores, and department stores, with prices ranging from $5.59 to $24. It was noted that all of the metals carry risks – for example, even low-level exposure to cadmium has been associated with severe kidney issues.
According to the study, glosses and lipsticks are particularly disconcerting because they – and the metals within them – can be ingested and absorbed through the lips. The study found that if a woman applied her lipstick or gloss approximately twice a day, she was exposing herself to a potential health risk.
Roadkill for your lips
Tallow is frequently used in countless products, such as eye makeup, shampoos, soaps and lipsticks. Exactly where does tallow come from? It comes from animal carcasses. It's made by rendering animal fat, meaning the carcasses are boiled, creating fatty byproducts. The deceased animals come from a variety of sources, such as labs, slaughterhouses – and roadkill. Actually touching that lipstick to your mouth doesn't seem quite as enticing as before, now does it?
Last call for propylene glycol
Used in lip products, propylene glycol seals in moisture to keep lips hydrated. It's also one of the main elements in anti-freeze. Yep, the same kind you put in your car. Propylene glycol can wreak havoc upon the liver and kidneys, and can even transform normal brain waves by making them look like the brain waves of people suffering from acute anxiety disorders.
Lanolin is in
Lanolin sounds like something soft, smooth, gentle. It's in lipstick, and, in reality, it's grease from sheep's wool – a sticky substance known as sebum, which is a mixture of wax and the residue of fat-producing cells. Sheep aren't bathed for approximately a year, allowing lanolin to build up in their wool. Finally, the greasy gunk is collected, and ends up as an ingredient in your lipstick that makes it shiny and sticky. Over 100 lipsticks on the market contain lanolin, including prominent brands like Estee Lauder and Revlon. Still want that lipstick within a 500-mile radius of your lips?
When you pamper your pout, you're actually taking care of your whole body, and what eventually filters through it. You're choosing lipsticks that aren't akin to creations from a mad scientist's lab. This way, your kiss may be deadly – but your lipstick won't be.