Lipstick: The Most Dangerous of All Cosmetics


By Marj Melchiors

It has been estimated that a makeup-wearing adult can ingest up to four pounds of lipstick in a lifetime. Just imagine sitting down at a restaurant and making a selection of your lipstick. If we are what we eat, it would be wise to take a look at the ingredients of what we’re smearing on our lips.

lipstick-1137536_960_720Many lipsticks contain synthetic dyes derived from aluminum (“Lakes colors”) and coal tar. These colorants can be absorbed into our bodies and stored in our organs and fatty tissues. For the sensitive individual, the use of coal tar colors is said to cause such symptoms as nausea, headaches, skin problems, fatigue, mood swings or other allergic symptoms. Coal tar is a mixture of many chemicals, derived from petroleum, and is recognized as a human carcinogen. These colors may also be contaminated with low levels of heavy metals, some even being combined with aluminum substrate, which is toxic to the brain.

Some colors are not approved as food additives yet they are used in cosmetics that may be ingested, such as lipstick. In the color naming system, “FD&C” indicates colors which are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in foods, drugs and cosmetics. “D&C” colors are not approved for use in food.

Certain types of artificial dyes, lanolin and added fragrances in lipstick can also cause 13763944503_7c81e50e11_bdrying and cracking of the lips. A condition called cheilitis, dermatitis of the lips, can occur due to an allergic reaction to lip products since the skin of the lips is quite thin. The preservatives BHT and BHA, which are commonly used preservatives in lipsticks, have been linked to toxicity and cancer.

The cosmetic industry will not tell you that some of the ingredients used in its products are health hazards, but this is no reason to be uninformed. No one wants to be at risk for allergic reactions, irritations, dermatitis and cancer. Products from lipsticks are going to be absorbed into your body as you moisten your lips throughout the day, and especially when you eat. The bottom line is to pay attention to the ingredients on any cosmetic label and buy those of a natural origin. If there is one cosmetic that should be traded in for a natural version, lipstick is it!


• Petroleum-based emollients, such as mineral oil and petrolatum.

• Artificial scents, which are usually listed on the ingredients label as “fragrance,” “natural fragrance” or “parfum.”

• Synthetic and petroleum-based waxes that give lipstick its shape. Common waxes to avoid include paraffin and ozokerite.

• Synthetic preservatives such as BHA, BHT and parabens.

• Artificial dyes. In the U.S. these dyes are listed on the label beginning with FD&C or D&C, or the color name followed by a number. For example: D&C Red 21 or just Red 21.

• Avoid mineral ingredients that have been “micronized” into nano-particles.

Marj Melchiors is the owner of boutique in Prescott Valley.

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