Lead is found, in essence, organically. It appears naturally throughout our earth, and doesn’t have to be created by some complex process or arcane method. Despite its pure nature, it has many adverse effects on the human body. Lead is, in fact, considered to be toxic and has caused significant public health problems in certain parts of the world.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recently released a statement voicing their concerns regarding lead contained in makeup. Cosmetics and their ingredients—with the exception of color additives—do not have to be approved by the FDA in order to be marketed and sold.
Yet, though the FDA cannot enforce an exact limit on the amount of lead used in cosmetics, their suggestion is being taken into consideration by many producers. It is recommended that makeup contains no more than 10 parts per million of lead in order to prevent harmful health effects.
Exposure to lead damages every organ system—presenting significant harm to the nervous in particular. Lead disrupts neurological development, and thus exposure is especially harmful to children with growing brains and to pregnant women who are carrying unborn fetuses.
In developing their statement regarding lead in cosmetics, the FDA tested hundreds of products for traces of the element. They confirmed that, “although most cosmetics on the market in the United States generally already contain less than 10 ppm of lead, a small number contained higher amounts.”
What this means is that makeup consumers should be actively aware of the products that they are buying and inspecting the chemicals contained in their makeup.
In order to ensure safety, look for products with the USDA organic seal on them. These contain few, if any, chemicals and are gentler on your skin and entire body.
Origins is a brand that has come to be known for their certified organic products and lack of toxic chemicals. Sephora has also released a line of natural and organic makeup to extend a healthy option to a larger audience. In an eco-conscious world, it is becoming easier and easier to find products that are healthy for the body and the environment, and it’s no longer necessary to buy products that have negative consequences.
Photo: Brian Dys Sahagun, CC-BY
Elizabeth Chambers is a health intern with Paste and a freelance writer based out of Athens, Georgia.