Arsenic, Beryllium, Cadmium, Lead, Nickel, Selenium and Thallium these are the unlabelled heavy metal impurities we found in makeup. In lab tests of 49 makeup items, the product with the highest number of heavy metals, containing seven of the eight metals of concern, was Benefit Benetint lip gloss, which could be ingested. It contained levels of lead 10 times higher than the limit set out in the Health Canada Draft Guidance on Heavy Metal Impurities in Cosmetics, which should be much lower than it is.
96% of the products we tested contained lead, 51% contained cadmium, and 20% contained arsenic. None of these metals were listed on the product labels.
Our new report, "Heavy Metal Hazard: The Health Risks of Hidden Heavy Metals in Face Makeup" also shows that the products contained an average of 4 of the 8 heavy metals we tested for. These metals can build up in the body over time and are known to cause varied health problems, which can include: cancer, reproductive and developmental disorders, neurological problems; joint and muscle disorders; cardiovascular, immune system, kidney and renal problems; lung damage; contact dermatitis; and hair loss. Many are suspected hormone disruptors and respiratory toxins, and for some like lead, there is no known safe blood level.
Almost all of the heavy metals we tested for (nickel being the exception) are banned from being intentionally used in cosmetics through Canada's Cosmetic Ingredients Hotlist, but here they are, showing up in our products anyway as impurities (contaminants), which is outside the scope of the Hotlist.
There are two simple things you can do right now to make cosmetics safer:
Help us send a strong message to Health Canada sign our petition to get heavy metals out of makeup: Ask that Health Canada take cumulative exposure of heavy metals into account and improve the draft guidelines on impurities in cosmetics to better reflect what is technically avoidable, then officially adopt them without delay. These guidelines have been in the draft stage since March 2009.
Tell your friends and family: Share this message, and our petition, with friends and family. Just use the 'send to a friend' link below. And don't worry; we don't keep their email addresses on file.
Thanks for your support,
Rick Smith, Ph.D.
P.S. Watch for media coverage of the report on CTV tonight!