Cosmetic Chemistry 101: Lead
Where: Lead typically occurs as a contaminant, such as in hydrated silica, an ingredient in toothpaste. Lead acetate is added as an ingredient in some lipsticks and men’s hair dye.
Why: Lead is a neurotoxin. It can cause brain damage and developmental delays even at extremely low concentrations. “Lead is a proven neurotoxin that can cause learning, language and behavioral problems such as lowered IQ, reduced school performance and increased aggression. Pregnant women and young children are particularly vulnerable to lead exposure, because lead easily crosses the placenta and enters the fetal brain where it can interfere with normal development,” according to Dr. Sean Palfrey, a professor of pediatrics and public health at Boston University and the medical director of Boston’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.
Do: Read ingredient labels and watch out for any of the above lead chemical compounds and seek out chemically safe cosmetics. You can find cosmetic companies that have signed the Compact For Safe Cosmetics at safecosmetics.org.