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Is your lipstick damaging your health?

purple lipstick_on_lips_31_08_12Your favourite bright lip colour not only lasts all Saturday night, it has a lasting effect on your health too, according to new research

A quick and effective way to add some pizzazz or class to an outfit, lipstick has long been a staple of a woman’s handbag. There’s something very Carrie Bradshaw or Sex and the City-esque about applying a lick of lippie and hitting the town for an evening of cocktails and frivolity.

Until worrying new research burst that vision, that is. Aside from the fact women, apparently, swallow up to 1.5 kilos of lipstick over their lifetime, now ladies are swallowing a host of chemicals that may seriously harm their health. Muscle problems, hormone disruption, arthritis and poisoning by heavy metals are just a few of the concerns that have been raised surrounding application of the cosmetic product.

While lipstick-contained chemicals such as parabens, methacrylate, lead and cadmium have previously sparked alarm with health officials, there’s a new ‘nasty’ on the cosmetic scene. Triclosan, which is used as a preservative in numerous lippies, has been linked to muscle and heart problems, but has also raised concerns that it might cause bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics and turn into superbugs.

And while the US cosmetics industry has hushed these concerns, pronouncing them as out of hand, molecular bioscientist Professor Isaac Pessah maintains that he found a ‘dramatic’ 25 per cent reduction in heart function within 20 minutes of laboratory mice being exposed to triclosan. Pessah urges that these findings hold strong implications for human health, but the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association (CTPA) has dismissed his research as irrelevant because of the testing on mice, and not humans.

Stressing that all cosmetic products sold in the UK are controlled by European safety legislation, a spokesperson from the CTPA noted  that, ‘There are many false allegations levelled against cosmetics manufacturers, accusing them of selling unsafe products and using harmful ingredients. These allegations are just that, false.’

But despite assurances of safety from the established organisation, skin product manufacturer Johnson & Johnson has pledged to remove triclosan — along with a host of other worrying chemicals — from all of its skincare products. Going far beyond the current requirements of European and American regulators, the esteemed brand has now set the bar for other companies to rise to or shy away from.

If your lipstick is now looking more toxic than tantalising, look out for brands such as Aveda, The Body Shop and bareMinerals, who take pride in their ethical, health conscious modes of production. The lipstick to steer well clear from? L’Oreal’s ‘Color Sensational’ Pink Petal, apparently. Containing the most lead of any lipstick tested, at 7.19 parts per ­million – a considerable amount more than the average lead concentration of 1.11 parts per ­million in lipsticks – it’s safe to say your pout might not be worth the toxins.

Picture credit: Shutterstock

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