Fact-check: The Lead in Lipstick is Safe



This “lead in lipstick” hoax has been going around Facebook again – it’s actually pretty ancient (goes back to the early 2000s) and refuses to die. Here’s one version:


All the versions of this chain email are slightly different but all have the same themes… and all are BS. There’s a whole bunch of wrong in this scary-sounding PSA.


Recently a brand called “Red Earth” decreased their prices from $67 to $9.90.

This bloody factoid changes currencies all the damn time – let’s pretend it’s in Australian dollars, cos it’s probably the way it’ll make most sense. Red Earth was never $67, and it sure as hell isn’t $9.90 now. Even if you don’t know science, you should know that Red Earth is a comfortable $24.

Why? Because it contained lead.

This is true. BECAUSE EVERYTHING CONTAINS LEAD. The thing is, atoms and molecules are really really really really really really ridiculously tiny. According to some maths, each of us contains about 200 billion of Shakespeare’s atoms (and 200 billion atoms from anyone else who’s ever lived and been dead for a while), so it’s not surprising that in your lipstick, there’s at least one atom of an element that was spewing into the atmosphere for 80 years thanks to leaded petrol. So a “trace amount of lead” is unavoidable in everything outside of the most high tech, fanciest lab.

So the real question is, how much lead is there? They’ve got one thing right:

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Fact-check Feature: How do cleansing oils work?

If you’ve been around the beauty scene for the last few years, you’d have run into a few cleansing oils (as opposed to the oil cleansing method). The most famous is probably the Shu Uemura range, which has kick started a whole new category of cleansing oils, which go on and melt make-up like oils, but wash off cleanly with …

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Fact-check Feature: Is there actually formaldehyde in my nail polish / hair treatment?

Formaldehyde is listed as an ingredient in a number of beauty products (in particular, nail strengtheners and Brazilian Blowout-style hair treatments), and there’s been some controversy about whether or not it’s really in these products. In particular, cosmetic chemist Doug Schoon has stated that formaldehyde in water readily reacts to form another chemical, methylene glycol. Most of the top search …

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Fact-check Friday: What’s the deal with parabens in cosmetics?

Today’s Fact-check Friday focuses on one of the most unfairly demonised of chemicals in beauty products: parabens. You probably own at least one beauty product that proudly declares itself to be paraben-free – is there any reason to buy more, or is it pure marketing? What are parabens? Parabens are chemicals derived from a chemical called parahydroxybenzoic acid, with this …

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Do I need extra sunscreen when using chemical exfoliants? Fact-check Feature

Fact-check Feature is a new series here on Lab Muffin, where I’ll be answering beauty questions and busting beauty myths. Got a question? Email me, or leave me a comment. I’ve heard a lot about sun exposure and chemical exfoliants. What precautions do I need to take? Chemical exfoliants, unlike physical exfoliants, are products that you leave on your skin. …

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