We know the Romans and Victorians used lead and arsenic - but they are still present in modern day cosmetics.
Arsenic, Beryllium, Cadmium, Lead, Nickel, Selenium and Thallium – these are the unlabeled heavy metal impurities we found in makeup. In lab tests of 49 makeup items, the product with the highest number of heavy metals, containing seven of the eight metals of concern, was Benefit Benetint lip gloss, which could be ingested. It contained levels of lead 10 times higher than the limit set out in the Health Canada Draft Guidance on Heavy Metal Impurities in Cosmetics, which should be much lower than it is. 96% of the products we tested contained lead, 51% contained cadmium, and 20% contained arsenic. None of these metals were listed on the product labels.
Almost all of the heavy metals we tested for (nickel being the exception) are banned from being intentionally used in cosmetics through Canada’s Cosmetic Ingredients Hotlist, but here they are, showing up in our products anyway as impurities (contaminants), which is outside the scope of the Hotlist.
Help us send a strong message to Health Canada — sign our petition to get heavy metals out of makeup: Ask that Health Canada take cumulative exposure of heavy metals into account and improve the draft guidelines on impurities in cosmetics to better reflect what is technically avoidable, then officially adopt them without delay. These guidelines have been in the draft stage since March 2009.