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FDA Tests Non-Organic Lipsticks, Finds Lead in All

We women love our lipstick.

We twist it, glide it, paint it on, and suddenly we feel attractive, composed, sexy and ready for the world.

Drenched in shades of sangria, dahlia, ruby, cherry and garnet, our lipstick-stained mouths exude health.

But looks can deceive.

Tests conducted by the FDA last year on 22 red lipsticks found lead, a neurotoxin, in every single lipstick sample studied.

The highest levels were in three well-known and common brands: Cover Girl, Revlon, L'Oreal.

While the FDA says it's continuing lead research on additional cosmetic brands and colors, it's reassuring consumers that the lead levels it found in the red lipsticks are very small and not a health threat.

The FDA does not regulate lead in finished cosmetics, only in colors added to the products. None of the products exceeded the 20 parts per million limit on colors, the agency said.

An industry trade group, the Personal Care Products Council, said manufacturers don't intentionally add lead.

"Because lead is found naturally in air, water, and soil, it may also be found at extremely low levels as a trace contaminant in the raw ingredients used in formulating cosmetics, just as it is in many thousands of other products," the group states.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics isn't buying it.

The lead found in Cover Girl Incredifull Lipcolor Maximum Red was 34 times higher than the lead found in the lowest scoring lipstick, Avon's Ultra Color Rich Cherry Jubilee. Clearly, the manufacturers are capable of doing better, said the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics' Stacy Malkan.

Cover Girl's media center at Procter & Gamble did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

"I think some companies are not doing a good job sourcing their ingredients," Malkan said.

Studies suggest the average woman inadvertently consumes about 4 pounds of lipstick over the course of her life, licking her lips, eating fruit, sipping tea.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is calling on the FDA to require cosmetics manufacturers to reduce lead to the lowest achievable levels, a policy the FDA already has adopted for candy.

"The reason we're worried is that lead builds up in the body over time," Malkan said. "Even small levels of lead, recent science shows, is dangerous at any level to developing children."