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Don’t be silly… lipstick won’t affect your IQ

By Andrew MCDOUGALL , 05-Dec-2012

After recent studies into the safety of cosmetics products found traces of lead in lipsticks, questions have arisen over whether these products can affect your mental health.

The Cosmetics, Toiletry and Perfumery Association and the Personal Care Products Council have both moved very quickly to rubbish these rumours and distance the study from any questions over cosmetics safety.

“We understand that reading that lipsticks could contain lead may cause you to feel concerned. However, you can be reassured that lipsticks – like all cosmetics – are completely safe to enjoy. Cosmetics and lipsticks will not affect your IQ,” says a CTPA statement.

The study in question involved 22 brands of lipstick and found that 55 per cent contained trace amounts of lead, with the Daily Mail quoting Dr Sean Palfrey, medical director for the Boston Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, warning that even low-level lead exposure poses a serious health risk and could affect mental health.

No question of safety

However, the reason lead may be ‘found’ in lipsticks is because it is everywhere in the environment, and traces found in lipsticks are very small.

“If you were serious about the public health aspects of lead poisoning you would not be looking at lipstick,” says Dr Halyna Breslawec, chief scientist for the PCPC.

CTPA adds that whilst it is possible that very small traces could be in some of the ingredients used, especially some natural colours, the specific safety assessment carried out on every product ensures that such very small amounts of lead never reach unsafe levels.

“Lipsticks, like all cosmetics, are strictly regulated by stringent EU cosmetic safety laws which specifically ban lead in cosmetic products,” it says.

Covering old ground

It is not the first time lead traces in lipsticks have been under scrutiny. Earlier this year an FDA study that found lead in 400 lipsticks tested , lead to several organizations questioning product safety; which was also refuted by both trade associations either side of the pond.

The PCPC and Breslawec  spoke out in defence of the FDA study into the levels of lead found in lipstick, reinforcing the view that there are ‘no safety concerns’, following criticism from pressure groups.

Dr Chris Flower at CTPA also defended the study stating that strict regulation means prduct safety has never been a major concern.

“To put in context the amount found in the samples from the study, you would get 1000 times more lead from safe drinking water than you would from using those lipsticks,” he said at the time.

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