As you know, we were eager to launch our new line of mineral makeup. We found, what we thought, were a few responsible and ethical suppliers of cosmetic grade mineral pigments. We reviewed the MSDS fact sheets of the products and gave it a go.
A few days ago, The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics launched the findings the FDA published over lead contamination on over 400 lipsticks and we were alarmed. After close inspection one of the common ingredients in these products was mineral pigments, the same ones used in mineral cosmetics.
Because of these findings we were suspicious of the purity of the ingredients we had purchased and the reliability of the MSDS fact sheets of those ingredients as no information about heavy metals was present on any of them. We immediately suspended the launch of our mineral makeup line, which we reported in our blog here and started testing our ingredients. We also contacted our suppliers so they could provide us with more information to speed up the process and one of them who's located in California just sent us a reply:
"I can tell you right now that all of these pigments meet the FDA standards for safety per CFR TItle 21. As such they contain small amounts of lead, as for example black oxide tested at 1.87ppm of lead.
As long as you are using iron oxides you will have lead in the ingredients at levels acceptable to the FDA. It is the nature of the pigment.
In any event, it doesn't matter what each individual ingredient tests at, it matters what your finished product tests at."
We were a little uncomfortable by this last statement "In any event, it doesn't matter what each individual ingredient tests at, it matters what your finished product tests at." Common knowledge and good manufacturing practices dictate, the higher the content of a toxic in an ingredient, the more toxic the final product is, unless we're missing something?
The FDA claims a "safe" lead level content in cosmetic pigments should be no more than 20 ppm (parts per million (1 ppm = 1 ug/g = 1 mg/kg = 1 mg/liter)) as established in this document here issued by the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, yet the FDA does not have a maximum level of lead content on a final product, meaning there is no regulation whatsoever and any level of this toxic ingredient allowable by current FDA standards. The Federal Ministry of Health in Germany allows no more than 1 ppm of lead in cosmetics (final product) while Canada allows no more than 10 ppm of lead in cosmetics (final product). The Drinking Water Guidelines in Canada limits the lead content to a Maximum Acceptable Concentration (MAC) of 0.010 milligrams per litre (0.010 ppm) of water. Acceptable oral intake of lead impurities include 0.1 ppm (US FDA for candy) to 10 ppm (USP for nutritional supplements), to 0.01ppm for china and dinnerware. The US lead level content in cosmetics since it's not regulated in any way, could be the highest among all industries, and this is alarming to us, as it does explain why the US has such a high incidence of cancer compared to other countries. If these are the FDA's acceptable values for lead in cosmetic pigments what are the highest value contents allowable for the other thousand toxic ingredients? Chances are much higher than any of the European standards for sure.
Taken from Guide to Less Toxic Products - Lead is a known carcinogen and neurotoxin that can lead to learning and behavior problems. It has also been linked to reduced fertility. It is readily absorbed through the skin, and accumulates in the bones. Large accumulations can result in leg cramps, muscle weakness, numbness and depression. Lead can be a contaminant in many different kinds of products including sunscreens, foundation, nail colours, whitening toothpaste, and lipstick. A 2008 study by Health Canada found lead in 21 of 26 lipsticks tested. Although lead is prohibited from use in lipsticks, it can be found in colour additives or as impurities in ingredients. It is an ingredient in Grecian Formula 16 and other dark hair dyes for men available in the US, but it is banned from the formulas used in Canada and Europe.
Although it is true pigments contain natural levels of lead, arsenic and other heavy metals, it is also true the nature of the pigments that are available to manufacturers in the US come from China and other parts of the world and unfortunately many of these pigments have not being properly purified to substantially or completely remove the heavy metals they contain. The fact that lower levels of toxic heavy metals can be found in Europe or in common house paint in the US determines they can be purified even further.
Any cosmetic manufacturer using mineral pigments, particularly oxides is introducing unsafe levels of lead and other heavy metals to consumers. As of right now, all the mineral pigments distributed to manufacturers worldwide contain lead, arsenic and mercury among other toxins.
When it comes to lead, no minuscule amount should be allowed or permitted no matter what the FDA or any other entity says. Our bodies don't process lead, it accumulates and causes cancer in kids and adults and in extreme high levels, lead poisoning which has no antidote or cure and for which hundreds die every year even in our modern society.
According to the latest article published by The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, "an advisory committee to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report asserting that there is no safe level of lead for children and stressing the importance of preventing lead exposure for children and pregnant women". The question remains, why does the FDA allow any trace amount of lead in cosmetic ingredients or in anything else?
The FDA standards are poor and not aimed to protect consumers, at least when it comes to cosmetics. Giant cosmetic companies sell their products in the US with higher levels of contaminants that the ones they offer in the European or Canadian markets. In other words, they comply with the bare minimum to increase profit margins, rather than ethically protect the lives of consumers worldwide.
Our company's core values and ethics are too high to lower ourselves to these poor standards established by the entity created to protect the health of US consumers. By Valenti Organics will not, under any circumstances, work with any levels of contaminated ingredients. As for now we will suspend the launch of makeup line until a new safe, healthy and toxic free alternative is found.