Who doesn't love a strong, red lip? It's old-Hollywood glam at its finest. Just a swipe of rosy lipstick, and you're ready for your close up (and a big kiss with your super-hot leading man). But what price are you willing to pay for a pretty pout—would you risk your health or the health of your unborn baby?
A disturbing new study published in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal says that not only do most lipsticks contain at least a trace of lead, but many brands of both lipstick and lip gloss contain up to eight other metals: cadmium, aluminum, cobalt, titanium, manganese, chromium, copper and nickel. (Aluminum keeps your lipstick's color from bleeding into the fine lines around your mouth. Titanium oxide is a whitening agent that turns reds into pinks. The rest are likely unwanted contaminants.)
The worst culprits when it comes to hidden metals are vibrant pinks, and deep reds, browns and berries, as well as shimmery, glittery glosses or stains. Lighter, matte hues or lip balms are relatively safer.
What makes this finding more upsetting is that research shows that many women (and we all know pregnant women are no exception!) touch up their lip color more than 20 times a day. During that time these metals are being absorbed into your skin and tissue, and are likely being ingested, while you're eating and drinking. That is what they call in the medical world long-term exposure. Eek!
While there is no need for a full-out panic, according to experts, there is some cause for concern, especially if you're pregnant. The amount of lead and other metals in lipstick is rather small, but lead tends to accumulate in the body, and the CDC acknowledges that no level of lead is safe, especially when it comes to pregnant women because moms can pass on lead poisoning to their unborn children who have even less tolerance for it.
Plus, too much lead in your system can increase your risk for miscarriage or cause you to go into labor early. It can also harm the development of your baby's brain, kidney and nervous system, or create learning or behavior problems in your little one.
So the best thing to do is read makeup labels, just like you do food labels. According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics' widely recognized study, here is a list of 11 lipsticks that will still add a beautiful pop of color to your lips without any detectable levels of lead. And if you have an absolute favorite that's not on the list, try wearing it in small doses, rotating it out with one that you know is absolutely safe for baby. You'll still look drop-dead gorgeous and you'll sleep better at night!
TELL US: What "green" beauty products do you recommend? Will this new study affect what lipstick you wear?
Image of lipstick courtesy of Shutterstock.