Lead in a Shade of Red?

I am sure you have heard this before. I am also sure you think that something was done about it and Lipstick is safe for use. But did you know that, even though it’s been more than a year since the health groups reported that top selling lipsticks contain lead, the FDA is still just sitting on this research? It almost seems meaningless to ask why because a reasonable answer is never forthcoming. In fact, they tend to act like nothing of the sort has come to light and no action is necessary. This has been the sketch of their previous behavior concerning dangerous ingredients in these sort of products and in my last post I addressed the litany of horrible toxins that are included in the most popular personal care and beauty products.

You would think the beauty industry owned the FDA. Perhaps they do. Perhaps in the future I will do research on their lobbying efforts and get the names of their lobbyists just for your reference and consideration. I’d love to know the names of the lawmakers who have held the hand of this industry through what is tantamount to a rout of the American public’s health and well being. Now that Obama has named Lester Crawford as the head of the FDA, my question is this. Will the FDA reinstate it’s mission and act on behalf of the public interest.. or will it just continue to give all of us this toxic treatment and not look twice, much less reprimand, the perpetrators?

I think if you have read these posts and are reading this one now, you should go to the FDA website or send them an email demanding action in this matter. In the meantime, you need to get yourself and your own out of harms way. And that doesn’t just mean eschewing lipsticks but also taking great care in the purchase and use of all personal care and beauty products. Just recently, Canada announced that it had found lead, arsenic, mercury and cadmium during routine testing of children’s face paints. I would suggest you stop allowing your children to paint their face with anything at all until safe, natural and non toxic products are available.

The story began with internet rumors claiming that popular brands of lipstick contained lead, a highly toxic heavy metal that can affect brain development at the lowest doses. The cosmetics industry replied by saying this was not true. I mean, they are making a fortune after all, selling tubes of red dye for upwards of $20 dollars (Lancome and other designers charge this much and more). But according to tests conducted as long ago as 2007 by the CAMPAIGN FOR SAFE COSMETICS, 62% of the lipsticks tested contained lead and this included a $24 tube of Christian Dior Addict and six popular brands by L’Oreal. To really make you mad, a contrast was struck by a test done on a $1.99 tube of Wet and Wild showing that this cheapo product had no lead at all! So having money and buying “upscale” does not protect you. In fact, it may put you in greater danger.

And to add insult to injury, it has been fourteen months since that test was done and the FDA still has yet to make a first public statement, has issued no reports and has taken no action at all. It doesn’t take long to run lead tests through a lab, in fact they come back in about 10 days, so what is going on here? The FDA is saying, when it says anything at all, that they will not release their own study until it is published in a peer reviewed journal. But did you know that this could actually take years? And all the while you and your kids are rubbing chemicals on your face, into your skin, your mouths and your eyes and Lord only knows what damage it is causing your family.

Of course, don’t expect anything to change. L’Oreal has repeatedly dismissed concerns about lead with a pat statement they keep reissuing saying that their brands are “in full compliance with FDA regulations.” This is meaningless. There are NO FDA regulations at all. In the light of this evidence, you could be painting your lips with lead pencils for all the difference the current choices can make on your health and safety.

The FDA has a history of using this same defense to keep the public in the dark. Back in 2002, some environmental groups reported that 70% of personal care products for sale in the US tested positive for phthalates, a set of industrial chemicals linked to birth defects and infertility. The FDA did it’s own testing but then refused to release the data, even under pressure from environmental groups who filed under the freedom of information act. The study did eventually appear, and this over 3 years later, in a journal edited by an Estee Lauder staffer. Now, who is running the FDA again? I mean, is Estee Lauder an executive there? To make matters worse, the public was never informed of the study, if they did attempt to attain it, it was being SOLD for a price of something like $35 and the raw data was never included or disclosed. This latter disclosure is REQUIRED by law. Again, I have to ask. Is Estee Lauder and L’Oreal at the head of the FDA or what?

The current financial crisis aside, as far back as 2006, Pamela Bailey, serving as President to the Cosmetics Industry Trade Association, was complaining that there was no money in the budget for funding the FDA. She was complaining because she actually beleived that “industry needs FDA as the tough cop on the beat to protect us and to reassure consumers”. I guess there is a groundswell of awareness coming to surface these days that has put some pressure on the industry. Wearing a big load of makeup is not the coolest thing these days, with people opting for a more natural look. This is the only occurrence that sheds a ray of hope on lessening our exposure to these nasty and dangerous chemicals.

In truth, the FDA has few resources to protect us. They don’t do much of a job but they do spend a lot of time reassuring consumers, as if their livelihood depended upon people buying this junk. The cosmetic industry holds focus groups from time to time, with the angle being a high level of reassurance. Being an arm of the government and with the government having a positive impact on people in general, they are able to reassure all of us even when we’re in the line of fire. Why people react so favorably to messages from the government is a mystery to me. Are they all like children, waiting for the parent (the government) to tell them it’s going to be ok? And are they stupid enough to believe whatever they hear? Indeed, focus groups have proven this to be a fact. People are willing to believe the FDA. There is something comforting about the FDA. Even though it does little to protect us after all.

But if you think about it, you’ll recall that you’ve heard this before and maybe even felt this way yourself. When you hear, “the FDA is strong” and is “looking out for you”, you tend to believe this? I like the one where they claim, “nothing would get through the FDA if it wasn’t safe”. Everybody tends to believe this when they hear it. Even with all this evidence to the contrary.

But in reality the FDA lacks authority. They cannot fill this promise because under current law they can’t require companies to test the safety of cosmetics and if there is a problem, they can’t even force recalls. The cosmetic and personal care product industry is basically left to it’s own devices, presumably on the assumption that any intelligent company wouldn’t want to poison it’s consumers. But what about insidious, low level poison that doesn’t send people to the emergency room the way the Tylenol poisoning did? I mean, what if you are dieing slowly, getting sick and not knowing why or how? Who is going to prosecute that?

When consumer advocate groups or environmentalists request information on these matters, they are told to “submit a Freedom of Information Act request”. These requests take quite some time to be submitted, considered and responded to. And, in fact, even at that, the FDA basically snubs them.

Hopefully, under the new administration we will see a change in the FDA. Again, I urge my readers to go to the FDA comment form and submit a message asking for these changes. Email your local congressman or woman and insist that they sponsor or co sponsor bills to change the funding for the FDA. Write President Obama and tell him this is important to you. And in the meantime, here are some homemade safe non toxic recipes for lip stains, glosses and balms.


Back in the days before we had big companies like Estee Lauder and Colgate Palmolive, people made their own personal care and cosmetic items. Women have been staining their lips with all sorts of things since the beginning of time. The most popular of these were natural henna (orange), beet power or juice (red), blueberries (purple) and strong coffees and teas (browns). Mixing coffee and beet powder, for instance, would give a brick red. Mixing henna and a light coffee would give a golden color. And mixing blueberries and beets would give a deep wine color.

Anything you choose to mix with powdered henna should be strong enough to stay in place for as long as 12 hours. Otherwise, you will lose the other color and end up with a bright orange for the rest of the day. Henna powder is mixed with a small amount of olive oil and hot water, allowed to sit for about 1/2 hr. Before first application. Add Vaseline to the areas of skin surrounding the lips to prevent smearing prior to application, and check often. Do not lick or swallow henna mixture while staining skin. Remember to always buy fresh organic henna powder and not some premixed combo in a box or can. This is the only way you can be sure that the henna does not contain the very chemicals you are trying to avoid!

Generally, as far as colors go, you can go by these guidelines. Beet juice is more burgundy. Blueberries adds blue. If the henna is too orange mix it with any of the other elements for a change in color. As it wears off, it looks even more natural. To remove, use strong clarifying shampoo and light scrubbing, adding Vaseline after cleaning and leaving overnight before returning to other lip colors or treatments.

In making these recipes, you will need containers to hold the product. Obtain small craft supply containers for the more liquid mixtures and use your finger to apply. For the more solid mixtures, you could use empty lipstick tubes, pill containers or used cosmetic tins such as the small round ones that hold powders and blushes. The dry product will solidify in these containers and can be applied with brushes, fingers or sponges. Other container ideas include recycled small cups they use to give out water and juices, square shaped containers like those that hold buttons or clips or the containers that hold dental wax (not floss). These are flat little containers that will hold the product safely.

Everyday Lip Balm


1/4 cup Almond or Coconut Oil
1/4 ounce Beeswax
1 teaspoon Honey or Vegetable Glycerine
1/2 to 1 teaspoon essential oil of your choice (Lemon, Orange, Spearmint)


Melt beeswax in a double boiler. Remove from heat and whip with an electric beater until creamy. Combine other ingredients and whip until thoroughly mixed. Store in an airtight jar. Apply with sponges or Qtips.

Basic Honey Lip Balm


1/2 cup of Honey
1/2 cup of Almond Oil


Mix the ingredients in a double boiler until blended. You can microwave this just as well if you don’t have a double boiler. Once it is well blended, allow to cool and then put it in a small container. You can keep this mix in the fridge. It feels really good when applied cold.

Peppermint Lip Balm


1 tablespoon Beeswax
2 tablespoons Almond extract
3-5 drops Peppermint Oil


Fill a small saucepan 1/3 full with hot water.
Place the ingredients in a pottery creamer.
Use a stainless steel or ceramic creamer because it’s easy to pour.
Set the creamer in the saucepan and heat the water until all the ingredients are melted.
Pour hot mixture into small containers or jars and seal tightly.
Store in refrigerator and use as needed.

Almond Lip Gloss


2 teaspoons grated Beeswax
7 teaspoons Sweet Almond oil
1 teaspoon pure Honey
5-10 drops Almond extract


Melt the oil and beeswax in a small pan over low heat until the beeswax is melted.
Once it is melted, take the pan off the heat.
Add in your honey and whisk it all together.
Allow to cool a short while.
When the mixture is nearly cool, add the almond extract and stir it in thoroughly.
Once cooled entirely, spoon the mixture into a container and store in a cool place.

Chocolate Lip Balm


3 tablespoons Cocoa Butter
3-4 chocolate chips (white or dark chocolate, your choice)
1 capsule of Vitamin E (liquid gel)
1/4 teaspoon Almond Oil


Melt the Cocoa Butter slowly over a double boiler.
You can microwave it if you don’t have a double boiler; just don’t overdo it.
Add the Chocolate Chips and stir until melted.
If you are using the microwave, you may have to blast the mixture again for a few seconds.
Break the gel cap and squeeze in the Vitamin E (Vitamin E is a natural preservative)
Add the Almond Oil
Stir the mix really good at this point, careful to mash out any lumps
Once smooth and well blended, pour it into a small container.

Kiddie Lip Gloss


1 tablespoon Vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon Honey
1 packet unsweetened Kool-Aid (red, of course!)
1/4 teaspoon hot water


Mix shortening and honey in small bowl.
In separate bowl, stir Kool-aid and water until dissolved.
Add water mixture a few drops at a time to shortening mixture.
Keep adding drops until the gloss is the color and scent you’d like
Put in a small airtight container and store in the fridge.
May I suggest a “gloss pot”? You can get one in the craft store.

HINT: Have the kids make their own at their next party or sleepover!

Cranberry Rose Lip Balm


1 1/4 ounces Avocado oil
7/8 ounce Coconut oil
2/3 ounce Beeswax
1/2 ounce Shea butter
1/8 ounce Vitamin E
1 ounce Cranberry Juice
1 ounce Essential oil of Rose


Heat the first five ingredients over low heat.
Stir well until melted.
Remove from heat and add in the Cranberry Juice and Oil of Rose
Mix well and pour into sterile lip balm tubes, tins or the containers of your choice.
Allow to cool before use.

Red Beet Lip Balm


1/4 cup light oil, such as Sweet Almond oil
1/8 cup grated Beeswax
1 teaspoon Honey
1/2-1 teaspoon Essential Oil of your choice (Peppermint, Lemon, Orange, Rose, etc)
3 drops Beet Juice


Combine the Wax and Oil and melt in a double boiler.
Beat very well until creamy.
Once beaten together, add the Honey, Oil and Beet Juice.
Beat again until well blended
Spoon into the chosen container and seal. Use as desired.

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4 Responses so far

  1. 1

    usually, i buy my craft supplies on the internet because of the cheaper price and countless options *”

  2. 2

    deepali sinha said,

    could u send me as a sample(lipliner brick red) free if i like that deffinetly i will buy it… because dis is my favourite shade but i dont hv idea this is actuly that one or not… this my request to u


    • 3

      spacecoaststargirl said,

      Thanks for reading my blog! I apologize but I do not sell lipstick or lipliner. This article, in fact, is suggesting you do not use lipstick because it is full of lead. But there are some brands that offer red shades without lead but they are few and far between. You will have to search the internet for “natural” and “organic” lipsticks and liners to find one without it. Good luck and thanks again for reading my post.

  3. 4

    […] Original post by spacecoaststargirl […]

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