Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Are There any Cosmetics on Your Holiday Shopping List?

Today I received a chain e-mail warning me about lipstick brands that contain lead and urging me to forward the e-mail to all the women I knew. The original e-mail appeared to have been crafted by someone representing a certain cosmetics brand.

Rather than forward the e-mail, with its lack of back-up data or source citations, I decided to do a little research on my own. The Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database compares ingredients in over 40,000 cosmetic, skin care, and hair products as well as perfumes. It allows you to search for a product, company, or ingredient to learn the potential hazards posed by various products and ingredients. I did a keyword search for "lead," which resulted in zero products containing lead but 10 items--all hair care products--containing lead acetate.

The database is operated by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit whose stated mission is to "use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment." EWG is critical of the federal government for failing to require safety tests of personal care products before they can be sold. You may or may not agree with EWG's stance on cosmetics regulation, but before taking sides, see what the U.S. government currently says about cosmetics in the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, read about FDA Authority Over Cosmetics, or peruse the Ingredients Prohibited or Restricted by FDA Regulations.

For further resources about possible bodily toxins, see our guide to Health and Medical Information.

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