Thursday, February 23, 2012

logic, lead, lipstick and legislation

In December 2011, the FDA published an updated report on lead levels in over 400 brands of lipstick and found the average concentration to be 1.11ppm (parts per million), just a mere .04ppm higher than the study conducted in 2009 where the average was reported at 1.07ppm. These results weren't exactly newsworthy, given they are essentially the same. Right before Valentine's Day, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC) and Environmental Working Group (EWG) started riling up the media with scary headlines about the danger of lead levels in lipstick. I must give props to the CSC PR team, who resurfaced and twisted the FDA report on a timely date when people may be focusing a bit more on their pucker, but where's the logic here?

who's dodging a bullet?

I'm taking a moment to step away from the science behind what's going on lately in the cosmetics industry and the media to examine the logical side of it. While earning my Master of Science degree, I learned the process of collecting, examining, interpreting data and drawing conclusions in both qualitative and quantitative methods. It was my single best take away from my previous profession because it has endless applications. Logically, I do not understand how the CSC has twisted the new data on lead in lipstick so drastically and the media has jumped right in and turned it into a fear-mongering frenzy.

The data does not show anything new...
Yes, there are trace amounts of lead in lipstick.
And your drinking water.
And the soil we grow food in.
And the air we breathe.

I've been thinking a lot about the multiple previous attempts to pass safe cosmetics legislation and how this ties in to product labeling, and the latest media scare around lead. One of the main provisions the CSC and EWG are pushing for is stricter guidelines around labeling to show trace amounts of substances that make up an ingredient. We do not even have this type of labeling scrutiny in place for the food we eat, which we all know (both scientifically and logically) is entering our bodies by ingestion. Forget skin absorption from cosmetics, folks! Why is our government being tied up with scrutinizing lipstick in the name of "health" and "safety"? Bottom line, life is full of choices, and wearing lipstick is a choice, not a necessity.

Eating, drinking, and breathing on the other hand are not choices. We must fuel and hydrate our bodies and breathe to continue to be alive. Let's gain some logic, perspective and focus as we move forward with what is legally considered safe and healthy in personal care and cosmetics. If there is so much concern about what you are choosing to apply externally to your body, shouldn't we be examining the sources we need to ingest internally to sustain life first?

These folks have covered both the scientific and the rational sides of the "lead in lipstick issue" if you're interested in reading more:
Dene Godfrey, Trever Butterworth, Robert Tisserand, John Hurson, PCPC via Skin Inc and there are more I'm missing so please add your links. As always, I recommend www.PersonalCareTruth.com as a great balanced, science based resource on legislative issues too.

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