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News: High levels of toxic chemicals found in common cosmetics
News: High levels of toxic chemicals found in common cosmetics

Before you apply the hottest new hue of lipstick, you might want to consider the chemicals that lurk inside it.

A new study from the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health, which tested 32 common lipsticks and lip glosses, found lead, cadmium, chromium and aluminum - among other metals, at levels that could be damaging.

"Just finding these metals isn't the issue; it's the levels that matter," study principal investigator S. Katharine Hammond, said in a press release. "Some of the toxic metals are occurring at levels that could possibly have an effect in the long term."

In Canada, it's the manufacturer's responsibility to ensure cosmetics are safe.

Health Canada says heavy metal impurities in cosmetic products are unavoidable, but has suggested impurity limits for lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury and antimony.

However, impurity limits in cosmetics have not been developed for selenium, barium and chromium.

Meanwhile, the European Union considers cadmium, chromium and lead to be unacceptable ingredients - at any level - in cosmetic products, according to the study's authors.

If you're concerned about chemicals in your cosmetics and want to find out how your favourite brand measures up, check out the Environmental Working Group's cosmetics database. You can search your favourite brand and find out if their products are in the high, medium or low risk category for a variety of factors.

I just checked up on one of my favourite lipsticks - Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar - and found that it has a score of 3 (which is low to medium risk). Phew!

-Katharine Watts, associate web editor

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