Are heavy metals in cosmetics harmful to health?


【Brief Description】Heavy metals are widely found in nature and will be encountered at any time in human life. Drinking water taken from natural water bodies, although after a series of treatments, will still contain a certain amount of heavy metals

 Why are there heavy metals in cosmetics?

Heavy metals are widely found in nature and will be encountered at any time in human life. Drinking water taken from natural water bodies, although after a series of treatments, will still contain a certain amount of heavy metals; Rice is grown in soil irrigated with water, enriching heavy metals in plants and eventually being eaten by humans. Similarly, there will be heavy metals in cosmetics. In addition to impurities with heavy metals that may be mixed in the production and packaging process, heavy metals in cosmetics can also come from raw materials, such as pigments. Taking lipstick, which is most often associated with "lead", for example, it uses pigments ranging from organic dyes to inorganic pigments made of minerals such as iron oxide red, and inorganic pigments from natural minerals may be the ingredients that carry the most heavy metals. Poor control in the production of pigments, as well as flaws in packaging and transportation, may lead to excessive heavy metals in the final product.

Are heavy metals dangerous in cosmetics?

What are the effects of these heavy metals contained in cosmetics on our health? Again, lead is used as an example. The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung, BfR) said in 2010 that the health impact of lead contained in cosmetics produced in the European Union is negligible, and that the main source of lead for adults is diet.

In 2010, the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization (FAO) established a "tentative weekly tolerable intake (PTWI)" of 25 micrograms per kilogram (body weight), and the upper weekly intake of lead for an adult weighing 50 kg is 1250 micrograms, or 1.25 milligrams.

According to the requirements of China's "Hygienic Code for Cosmetics" 2007 edition, the lead content in cosmetics should not exceed 40 mg/kg, ignoring the absorption rate of lead in cosmetics by facial skin not exceeding 0.3%, how many cosmetics must be "eaten" every day to exceed PTWI? Let's calculate:

Tentative tolerable weekly intake: 25 μg/kg

Weight: 50 kg

Maximum lead concentration in cosmetics: 40 mg/kg

Weekly: 7 days

So, daily lipstick intake = 25 μg/kg× 50 kg/(40 mg/kg)/7 = 4.46 g

4.5 grams a day, which is equivalent to "eating" one and a half lipsticks (3 grams per lipstick).

Qualified lipsticks have a maximum lead content of only 7.19 mg/kg.

The truth is much more optimistic: According to a 2010 U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) test of 400 lipsticks retailed on the market, the highest lead content was only 7.19 mg/kg, well below the upper limit of 40 mg/kg. Moreover, a lipstick can be used for hundreds of days, so the use of qualified cosmetics will not consume too much lead. By analogy, although cosmetics that meet the standards contain heavy metals, they contain very little content and do not pose a danger to our health.


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