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Before you pucker up, look for lead in your lipstick

A warning for women who wear lipstick: A study by the Food and Drug Administration found 400 lipsticks on the market that tested positive for lead. Although the FDA says the amounts of lead are at a low enough level to not cause a serious health risk, they might cause some to think twice about what they're putting on their lips.

Products that contain lead may be acceptable for some adults, but bear in mind that many children like to play with their mother's or older sister's makeup. Lead exposure is particularly harmful to pregnant women and to infants and children, which is why children's products in the U.S. are required to have less than 100 parts per million of lead.

The lipstick containing the highest amount of lead, Maybelline's Color Sensational Pink Petal, tested by the FDA contained a level of 7.19 parts per million. Five Maybelline and L'Oreal lipsticks contained some of the highest amounts.

Lead can damage the nervous system, circulatory and reproductive systems, as well as the kidneys and gastrointestinal tract. In children, it can cause learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, low IQ and antisocial behavior.

Even if you don't have children and aren't expecting any, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics says there is no safe level of lead exposure. It's pushing the government to set lead limits for lipsticks. In the meantime, you can check to see how your preferred lipstick ranks on the FDA's website.

Don't assume that only cheap brands of lipstick contain lead. There seems to be no correlation between the price of lipsticks and the amount of lead they contained. The least contaminated lipstick tested by the FDA, Wet n' Wild Mega Mixers Lip Balm Bahama Mama, was also the cheapest brand.

Source: USA Today, "FDA finds trace amounts of lead in 400 lipsticks," Tara Meyer, Feb. 15, 2012

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