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We should be able to trust that the products we buy are safe — especially ones our families use every day, applied directly to our lips. However, CoPIRG Foundation released a consumer guide titled “Kiss Off” which contains examples of lipsticks, lip balms, and children’s lip products which contain ingredients linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and reproductive problems. Popular brands such as Maybelline, L'Oréal, and ChapStick made the list.
"This Valentine’s Day, we shouldn’t be giving our loved ones a chemical-tainted kiss,” said Danny Katz, CoPIRG Foundation Director. “We should be able to trust that the products we apply directly to our mouths, which we inadvertently ingest, are safe. Until that’s the case, consumers need to watch out for common, potentially hazardous ingredients like parabens and fragrance/parfum when shopping for lip products.”
Lip products impact a lot of people. 81 percent of women and 39 percent of men use lipstick or lip balm products. However, lipstick and lip balm don’t disappear off of our lips--instead, some of that product is being ingested by the consumer when we’re licking our lips, drinking our coffee, or eating our breakfast.
The amount ingested is significant: on average, an American woman will apply lipstick 2.35 times per day, and some women apply as much as 14 times per day. The result is that some women are ingesting a pound of lipstick every two years (or as much as 87 milligrams of lip product per day). Over the course of a lifetime, that usage can have serious consequences for a person’s health.
These toxic chemicals are also found in products that are intended for those most vulnerable: children. Up to 15 percent of girls under the age of 12 use lipstick – and more and more brands are selling “dessert-flavored” lip products to appeal to children.
Some common lip products to avoid are:
- L'Oréal Paris Colour Riche Shine Lipstick in Dazzling Doe (contains fragrance) - Potential health effects: cancer, reproductive and respiratory problems, allergies
- ChapStick Classic Original (contains propylparaben and methylparaben) - Potential health effects: skin cancer, reproductive toxicity, hormone disruption
Children’s lip balm:
- Maybelline Baby Lips Moisturizing Lip Balm (contains fragrance)
Researchers also provided some examples of safer alternative lip products that consumers can use to avoid common hazardous chemicals:
- Mineral Fusion Lip Sheer - Flashy
- Coastal Classic Creations Pure Classic Lipstick - Conch
- Maia's Mineral Galaxy Mineral Lipstick - Forever Friend
- Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm (doesn’t contain fragrance)
To create the consumer guide, CoPIRG Foundation researchers looked at ingredients listed for many common lip products, cross-referenced them with cosmetic chemical databases and peer-reviewed studies, and developed a consumer guide listing several examples of popular lip products that contain chemicals of concern such as fragrance/parfum and parabens that have been linked to cancer, reproductive problems, and hormone disruption.
While these findings are certainly alarming, they are not necessarily surprising, given that the FDA does not require ingredients to be tested or approved for human safety before they are added into our personal care products and cosmetics, so manufacturers can use nearly any ingredient they choose to use.
While the lip products in the guide may not necessarily violate any laws, consumers should pay attention to products containing ingredients that are linked to negative health effects, and how to avoid those chemicals in their personal care routine. So CoPIRG Foundation included a list of safer alternative lip products that do not contain common chemicals of concern.
We can’t definitively say that any particular product is 100% safe for all users. We chose to highlight these products because they are formulated without major chemicals of concern that are found in many lip products. In addition to the toxics concerns that we are raising, it’s possible for people to be allergic to specific ingredients, or have other kinds of sensitivities depending on genetic or environmental factors. It’s best to look for products with low-hazard ingredients, like the ones we highlight on our list.
CoPIRG Foundation has the following recommendations:
- Remove chemicals of concern and replace with safer ingredients, and disclose fragrance ingredients.
For State lawmakers:
- Set policies to mandate personal care product manufactures to disclose fragrance ingredients
- Avoid products that have common ingredients of concern such as fragrance/parfum, and parabens.
- Call the companies who make your favorite lip products, and tell them you want their products made without toxic chemicals.
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