Trace levels of lead taint lipsticks

FOUR hundred of the most popular lipsticks in the US contained trace levels of lead when tested recently, confirming similar results of earlier analyses but on a much wider scale and at higher levels than previously detected.

Five L'Oreal and Maybelline lipsticks, owned by L'Oreal USA, ranked among the top 10 most contaminated brands, according to the analysis by the Food and Drug Administration. Two Cover Girl and two NARS lipsticks also landed in top 10 slots, as did one from Stargazer.

The findings exacerbate an ongoing disagreement between the FDA and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a consumer group that's been pushing the government for years to set limits for lead levels in lipsticks.

The FDA has resisted, insisting that the lead levels detected in two rounds of its own testing, including the most recent one, do not pose safety risks. But the consumer group says the FDA has no scientific basis for its conclusion.

Reports of lead in lipstick date to the 1990s, when test results from a commercial laboratory raised concerns. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics tested 33 red lipsticks in 2007 and found that two-thirds of them contained lead - and that one-third of those exceeded the FDA's limit for lead in candy.

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