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Lipsticks harmful for health

Lip colour permeates into the skin membrane and a lot of colour enters digestive track when one eats or drinks.

health-and-fitness Updated: Jan 16, 2008 16:54 IST
Jaya Shroff
Jaya Shroff
Hindustan Times

Colour, gloss, matte and glitter – everything looks beautiful on the lips. But what happens as the lipstick fades?

Researchers say the lip colour permeates into the skin membrane and a lot of colour goes into the digestive track when one eats or drinks.

High amounts of lead, arsenics and other heavy metals present in lipsticks can cause health hazards - from simple dermal eruption to cancer of various vital organs. <b1>

The same goes for talcum powder and hair colour; they permeate into the skin, causing hair loss and skin irritation. A study done by the Delhi Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research (DIPSAR) suggests there are adulterants and highly toxic elements in different cosmetic preparations.

In the manufacture of colours, toxic elements like lead, nickel and copper are retained in pigments. Estimation of lead content in 17 brands of lipsticks was carried out.

The results showed all brands contained lead and other heavy metals like copper, nickel, chromium, cobalt and arsenic and few were above the proposed level of lead (20 parts per million).

The researchers studied the effects of lead containing lipstick on rats. "The study showed it caused liver injury after 28 days of oral administration," says Professor S.S. Agarwal, Principal, DIPSAR.

Out of eight brands of tooth powders analysed, four contained high amounts of nicotine. Only one had a warning label. "It is pertinent to mention Regulatory Authorities of India prohibits the use of nicotine in tooth powders," says Agarwal.

Heavy metals were tested in 20 brands of kohls, 13 brands of talcum powders, 11 brands of hair colours and 18 brands of toothpastes. "Our findings revealed higher amounts of lead and other metals were present in them," he adds.

Talcum powders and hair colourants also had severe irritants of the eye. Research revealed of 11 shampoo brands, few brands had paraben contents much above the permissible limit of 0.8 per cent.

"Three brands had elements that damaged neck tissue. Except for one, all 10 brands were found to be severe eye irritants," says Agarwal.

As researchers confirmed the presence of toxins in several Indian brands, they raised fears about lack of regulation on the sale of cosmetics in the country.

"Cosmetics are not fully regulated by agencies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or Drug Controller General of India. Cosmetic companies should pay heed to safety standards and consumers should be more cautious," says Agarwal.