University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health researchers, including environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure assessment and anti-tobacco expert S. Katharine Hammond, have published a study addressing the concentrations of lead, aluminum, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, manganese, nickel, and titanium in lipsticks and lip glosses. Sa Liu, S. Katharine Hammond & Ann Rojas-Cheatham, “Concentrations and Potential Health Risks of Metals in Lip Products,” Environmental Health Perpsectives, May 2, 2013.

Concluding that “[t]his preliminary study of metal content of 32 lip products suggests that toxic metals in cosmetics should be regulated to protect women’s health in the US, as has already been undertaken by the European Union through their Cosmetics Directive,” the researchers apparently found that most of the products tested “contained high concentrations of titanium and aluminum.” All of the products had detectable manganese, and lead was found in three-fourths of the products, “including one sample with 1.32 ppm.”

Estimated average daily rates of use would result in >20 percent of acceptable daily intakes (ADIs) for aluminum, cadmium, chromium, and manganese, and average daily use of 10 products “would result in chromium intake exceeding our estimated ADI for chromium.” The researchers also purportedly found that for high rates of product use “the percentages of samples with estimated metal intakes exceeding ADIs were 3% for aluminum, 68% for chromium, and 22% for manganese.” Lead intakes were reportedly <20 percent of ADIs for average and high use.

The UK’s Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association (CTPA) released a statement in response to the report, claiming that the industry is “confident in the safety of our lip products,” noting that the researchers “found minute levels of metals in many of the products they reviewed.” According to CTPA, “[t]he levels of impurities found in the US study are exceedingly small and, despite the suggestions otherwise, they are not present at levels in the lip products that would cause harm either now or in the future.” The trade organization claims that all cosmetics and personal care products “made in or imported into the UK and Europe must be safe” and that the presence of trace metals is not surprising “as these are natural elements that make up the environment in which we live.” See CTPA News Release, May 2, 2013.