Toxic Ingredients to Avoid in Lipsticks

May 3, 2021
Updated: December 29, 2021
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Can a kiss be poisonous? Millions of women wear lipstick every day without realizing the toxic ingredients lurking in a tiny cylinder container. Here are the key toxic ingredients to avoid:


”A recent federal analysis showing that 400 shades of popular lipstick contained trace amounts of lead has exacerbated an ongoing dispute between regulators and consumer activists over how much lead is safe in cosmetics(By Dina ElBoghdady)(Washington Post)

Age Brain Toxic Lipsticks BHA


BHA or BUTYLATED COMPOUNDS serves basically as a preservative and antioxidant in pharmaceutical preparations and cosmetic formulations that contain oils and fats. In cosmetics BHA is used in lipsticks and eye shadows.

HEALTH CONCERNS: Endocrine disruption, organ-system toxicity, developmental and reproductive toxicity, cancer, irritation & skin depigmentation.


Mineral Oil / Petroleum Jelly

Considered one of the most debated substance used in many cosmetic products, it is a colorless and odorless oil that’s made from petroleum. Basically its a by-product of the distillation of petroleum to produce gasoline called “liquid petroleum,” Scientists have express concerns after research showed results of strong evidence linking mineral oil hydrocarbons as one of the greatest contaminant to the human body through skin absorption.


Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil

We find this soft, whitish ingredient mainly in lipsticks and skin cleansers and other cosmetic products, also called Gossypium Herbaceum. According to the Cosmetic ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel recognized the need to limit the presence of heavy metals, arsenic, lead and mercury that may contaminate hydrogenated cotton seed oil during the manufacturing process of lipsticks & cosmetic products.

Despite these measurements, Scientist are more concerned on the effects of repeated use from various products used every day can create long term health risks. The question proposed was how may times do women apply lipstick per day and the results showed it was approximately 24 milligrams per day!


Padimate O and Nitrosamines

Padimate O and Nitrosamines Ethylhexyl Dimethyl PABA is called "Padimate O" when applied to the skin, absorbs UV rays. In addition to causing sunburn, UV radiation is a significant cause of premature aging of the skin and contributes to the development of melanoma and other forms of skin cancer. Padimate O and Petrolatum can be contaminated with nitrosamines called NDELA.

Numerous studies and databases link nitrosamines (NDELA) to cancer because it’s absorbed through the skin and accumulates in organs, such as the liver, bladder and Kidneys, where it generates chronic toxic effects. These ingredients are listed as possible or known human carcinogens by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


Lead and Heavy Metals

Lead can be found in many colors found in cosmetics, including lipstick. It’s a proven neurotoxin that has been linked to learning, language and behavioral problems, including links to Cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity, organ system toxicity, and environmental concerns.

Research shows that most heavy metals like lead, mercury, zinc, arsenic, chromium, zinc, aluminum, and iron can be difficult to avoid as they are not always listed on the label. One best strategy is to use color cosmetics for special occasions sparingly or consider other healthier alternative lipsticks that uses less toxic ingredients.

[1] National Toxicology Program, “Report on Carcinogens, Twelfth Edition. Butylated Hydroxyanisole,” 13th Report on Carcinogens on October 2, 2014

[2] A Review on Common Ingredients of Periocular Cosmetics and Their Hazards, Tang, Karen; Lu, Shu-Yi; Ma; Volume 19, Number 1, January 2015, pp. 30-38(9) [3] “Mineral Oils: Untreated and Mildly Treated,” Report on Carcinogens, Twelfth Edition (2011), National Toxicology Program, Department of Health and Human Services. [4] Metals in cosmetics: implications for human health. Borowska S1, Brzóska MM; J Appl Toxicol. 2015 Jun;35(6):551-72 [5] Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) (2012). Toxicological profile for Chromium. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service. Available online:

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