Environmental watchdog releases warning on make up containing heavy metal

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

Environmental watchdog releases warning on make up containing heavy metal
EcoWaste Coalition encourages cosmetics consumers to select their make up choices with care after providing the public with a warning on lipsticks with heavy metal impurities.

Public interest group, EcoWaste Coalition, pursues sustainable solutions including chemicals issues that impact the Philippines and the wider world.

Lipstick Day awareness

Focusing of the amount of metal in lipsticks, the Coalition has put forward a warning to cosmetics shoppers, communicating the risk related to heavy metal content.

National Lipstick Day took place on 29th July, emphasising the popularity of the lip segment throughout Asia-Pacific. While shoppers base their lipstick choice on the brand, bold colours, appealing textures and its stay-on capabilities, the non-profit group used the day as an opportunity to urge the public to consider another factor when selecting their purchases.

EcoWaste Coalition encourages beauty shoppers to avoid unsafe lip products that contain heavy metal impurities, naming these as “poison lipsticks”​ that can lead to detrimental health implications.

After finding lead, cadmium, mercury and arsenic contamination in cheap and imitation lipsticks, the group went on to find that these levels were above limits set out by ASEAN Cosmetic Directive (ACD), it said in a statement.   

Selecting products

These four contaminants fall within a list of “10 chemicals of major public health concern”​, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). It also stipulates how the ACD states that “substances which must not form part of the composition of cosmetic products”​.

“We urge lipstick users not to buy counterfeit lipsticks and those without proper market authorisation as many of such products are laden with heavy metal contaminants that can seriously harm human health,”​ explained Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.   

Specifying the importance of raising awareness, Dizon further added: “Our intent is not to throw cold water on this special day for lipstick lovers, but to remind consumers of the hazardous substances that may be lurking in fake articles and others that have not been assessed for their quality and safety.”

Urging immediate support on providing consumers with safe lipsticks options, he went on further to say: “To safeguard consumer health, we request the authorities, particularly the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to cause the immediate seizure of the non-compliant lipsticks in cooperation with local government and police units.”

Checking for contaminants

On 28th July, the EcoWaste Coalition conducted test buys on a selection of lipstick products. Out of a total of 38 lipsticks bought, these were then screened for heavy metals using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) tool.

Of these, 30 had at least one metal above the ACD’s permitted limit of 20 parts per million (ppm) for lead, 5 ppm for cadmium, 5 ppm for arsenic and 1 ppm for mercury. Ten of these samples were contaminated with lead in the range of 2,633 ppm to 39,500 ppm, it revealed.

Putting forward its key safety tips, the group relayed that consumers should: Check if the item contains the necessary cosmetic product notification contained on the FDA website; purchase lipstick from a licensed retail outlet; obtain an official receipt; be wary of the price and compare it will other retailers to avoid a counterfeit item; search for those that are guaranteed safe from contaminants; and ensure children do not play with these.

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