Toxic Lipsticks: What You Need To Know ★ Beauty Blog


Lethal Lipsticks: What You Need To Know

Your favorite tube of lipstick could cause you some serious damage!


Does your face hurt? Because it’s killing me! Truth is, it could be killing you too. Makeup? A murderer? Shocking, I know, but your favorite tube of lipstick could cause you some serious damage in the long run. In case you weren’t aware, many lipsticks and glosses on the counters of your local CVS or Nordstrom are loaded with lead and other dangerous metals that are classified as carcinogens (cancer-causing agents). Yikes!

Lethal Lipsticks: What You Need To Know

Makeup = Murder?! Cancerous Cosmetics?!

Scary Studies + Frightening Facts 

Lethal Lipsticks: What You Need To KnowAccording to the study administered at the University of California-Berkeley’s School of Public Health, lead, cadmium, aluminum, chromium and a couple other metals were found in commonly sold lipstick products at highly toxic levels. Lead has been banned in most products because it’s common knowledge that the metal should be avoided lead at all costs; however, it was found in 75% of the samples claimed by USA Today regarding the same study.

To make matters worse, cadmium, a main metal found in the majority of the lipsticks, is known to cause cancer and is found in many breast cancer biopsies. The other lethal metal investigated, chromium, is linked to agents found in stomach cancer diagnoses as well.

The scary thing about all of this is that the problems mentioned can begin with symptoms as subtle as a couple of headaches and feeling sleepy or irritable!

Lethal Lipsticks: What You Need To Know

But Why Should I Care?

Lethal Lipsticks: What You Need To KnowThe effects that these ingredients can have on our bodies later in life can be deadly or debilitating. The buildup of lead toxins in our bodies is directly associated with very serious issues and illnesses: hypertension, chronic kidney disease, changes in neurological behavior in adults and brain dysfunction in children. Lead exposure is especially dangerous in regards to our mental health because a high lead toxin level is responsible for severe personality changes and the tearing down of our IQ and cognitive brain activity. In short, lead can cause irreversible brain cell damage!

The EU has banned about 1,400 different chemicals from cosmetics and personal care products, while the U.S. has banned a paltry 11.

Lethal Lipsticks: What You Need To KnowThe other toxic metals also mentioned are known to be just as lethal as lead. Aluminum is linked to osteoporosis, anemia, extreme nervousness, reduced liver and kidney function, trouble with speech, memory loss and can develop into Alzheimer’s disease over time. The other major toxin, cadmium, is a well-known carcinogen that disrupts our DNA directly.

The scariest thing about all of this is that the problems previously stated can begin with symptoms as subtle as a couple of headaches and feeling sleepy or irritable! That’s why it’s imperative to address your symptoms right away because once the metals build up in our systems, the damage made cannot be undone. Prevention is the best option when it comes to metal poisoning so it’s important to cut down in whatever way possible. In other words, toss out your lead-filled lipstick. NOW!

The truth behind ‘drop-dead gorgeous …’

Lethal Lipsticks: What You Need To Know

The Top 10 Worst Offenders List goes as follows:

Lethal Lipsticks: What You Need To Know

The FDA’s study suggested that it wasn’t just your common drugstore lipsticks like Cover Girl and L’Oreal that were the culprits. Natural or organic brands like Burts Bees, PeaceKeeper, CauseMetics, and Colorganics also tested lead-positive. So did higher-end brands, like Clinique, Estee Lauder, Dior, M.A.C., Avon, BeneFit, NARS, Lancome, Mary Kay, Victoria’s Secret, Chanel and Dior.

Lethal Lipsticks: What You Need To Know


Is “Natural” Safe?

I admit it. I fell for the natural = nontoxic fallacy. But being labeled natural doesn’t necessarily make makeup free of lead or carcinogens. Even Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmers were in the FDA’s Top 20 worst offenders list. Naturally occurring chemical compounds can still produce potentially toxic nanoparticles, like iron and zinc oxides, and it’s up to the company making the lipstick to remove those toxins or discontinue the use of those compounds. Lead may be a neurotoxin, but it’s also a naturally occurring metal—and one that’s surprisingly common (but still completely avoidable) in cosmetics.

Lethal Lipsticks: What You Need To Know
… So, now what?! Do we stop wearing lipstick as often? Or should we quit applying our glosses altogether? The answer: not necessarily.


The best advice I can give you ladies is this: if it isn’t necessary to wear it, DON’T. There are other ways to complete a look that don’t require a bold lip color, such as a jeweled statement necklace or a hot pair of red pumps depending on your style preference.

We rarely take off our lipstick using a proper makeup remover, which means these metals are absorbing into our bodies. Over the course of the day the lipstick you use fades, which means that lead and other toxic metals are entering into your pores. Also, how many times do you happen to lick your lips? You’re ingesting said metals directly as well.

To stay safe, check and Google the lipstick with the word “toxic” or “lead.”

Lady to lady, you don’t need to apply lipstick to go to the supermarket — or the gym for that matter (I don’t know why you would, but hey I’ve seen it with my own eyes). Save the fire engine red lips for special occasions.

Let’s not forget that there are other ways to keep your lips from cracking that don’t involve lipsticks and glosses. If you Google “lip moisturizer DIY,” you will see many ways to make your own lip balm that does NOT involve lead. Not to mention, there are daily lip scrubs available for purchase that not only keep your lips kissably smooth, but also sloughs off of dead skin cells that build up over time.

Lead is a metal that people should avoid at all costs and it was found in 75% of the lipstick samples.

If you absolutely cannot be separated from your lipstick, don’t be discouraged. The Environmental Working Group has published a list of “safe” lipsticks (as well as other makeup products) that contain safe and natural ingredients.

Lethal Lipsticks: What You Need To Know

The Top 10 Safest Lipsticks (big thanks to the EWG) are as follows:

Lethal Lipsticks: What You Need To Know

1. Au Naturale Lip and Cheek Tint, Shade: Parisian Red.
2. Au Naturale Lip and Cheek Tint, Shade: Venetian Red.
3. Au Naturale Lip and Cheek Tint, Shade: Vermilion.
4. Coastal Classic Creations: Autumn Leaves, Shade: Cinnamon Red.
5. Coastal Classic Creations: Ida’s Rose Lipstick, Shade: Deep Rose.
6. Coastal Classic Creations: Ida’s Rose Lipstick, Shade: Coral Red.
7. Coastal Classic Creations: Shell Lipstick, Shade: Mocha.
8. Mineralz 175, Shade: Sweet Georgia Brown.
9. Au Naturale Lipstick, Shade: Current.
10. Au Naturale Lipstick, Shade: Moroccan Red.

Something to note: Over the years, the US has banned 22 chemicals outright. Perspective: the EU currently bans more than 1,300 chemicals.

We at Urbanette value your life over your lipstick and think that you should too! Smooches ;-*

Will you be tossing your lipstick? Why or why not?

Hi! My name is Alicia. I have a degree in English and writing. I love to write; it's the most valuable form of therapy and it costs you nothing but your time. I'm a huge fan of dancing and dry humor. If you could make me laugh, play a good beat to move to --and hand me a kitten or twelve-- you'd have yourself a new best friend.

Reader Discussion: 53 Comments

  1. I have always been conscious of my lips Because they chafe allot even if It’s not cold. So I usually carry with me vaseline for my lips. Never thought it would be a good thing because of all the toxic chemicals on lip products. Thank God I’m so basic hahahaha

  2. ysabelle raven

    never really imagined that “natural ingredients” (at least, as claimed in packagings and ads) would give us this much toxicity on our bodies. will now refrain if not totally not use lip products. a well-hydrated system and healthy diet can still give pink lips.

  3. Kimberly Shaw

    I was just as surprised as the next person to learn that over 400 lipsticks from brands like L’Oreal, Maybelline, NARS, and CoverGirl contain lead. Turns out, lipsticks actually contain a lot of nasty ingredients like crushed up bugs, harmful chemicals, and parasites. Point is, the stuff may be pretty, but it’s also pretty gross. I think the average woman who wears lipstick daily eats five pounds of it a year, and that doesn’t even account for the amount that is absorbed through the lips and into our bloodstream. So yeah, it may be worth making sure that your favorite cosmetic isn’t harmful to your health. 🙂

  4. Katherine Swift

    I use Coastal Classic Creations: Autumn Leaves, Shade: Cinnamon Red. For me, this product strike the perfect balance between safety and performance and I’m a big fan of Coastal Classic Creations’ mission.

  5. Camilla Collins

    I have very dry lips I have used Chapstick and won’t work, my friend recommends Maybelline pink petal and I’ve been using the product for years. After reading this blog, I don’t know what to use anymore.

  6. Isabella Jones

    Pink Petal, to me, is the perfect pink. It’s not too brownish, reddish, bluish or purplish. It’s really a true neutral pink and is very flattering on most skin tones. On me, it creates a nice nude pink and I really do love the color.
    But since I read this article, I guess I have to find another pink lipstick in watsons. 🙁

  7. May Baker

    This may seem silly but… I can’t wear lipstick! I’ve tried MAC’s lip moisturizer, and my lips are not really chapped, or anything. It just gets all flaky on me. I’ve tried many brands, and I’ve even bought the same lipstick as friends who swear by them.
    For some reason, it is flaky and bleeds over the top of my lips. I am 23, and short/young looking, and when I wear lipstick, I feel like a child dressing up in my mom’s make-up. Any suggestions?

    • corinna dobrik

      i suggest find better friends. giving you lip products they say is good but not that good. girl they’re not your friends.

  8. Abigael Fisher

    I generally feel that wearing lipstick looks great. Not wearing lipstick is great, too. How I feel about the looks of someone has nothing to do with what I think of this person. If these lipsticks are toxic, then just don’t wear them.

  9. Maria Rapier

    Now that I’m aware, I’d be more careful! Will do my research.

  10. Oxi Harger

    Informative! I must admit, I have little knowledge of the harmful ingredients (or am I just in denial?!)

Load 10 more comments

Join in the Conversation! Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *