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Finding Non-toxic Lipstick Using the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database



The only make-up I ever wear these days is lipstick. I like lipstick because it instantly makes you look done up (my sister taught me this trick). Less discerning souls might even think you spent 30 minutes in front of a mirror putting on makeup and trying to look your best.

Recently I decided I wanted to purchase some non-toxic lipstick. Some of you may have heard about lead in lipstick. The FDA has an allowable level of lead in lipstick. Personally, I'd like my lipstick to be lead-free and toxin-free, since I am both constantly eating as well as absorbing through my skin its ingredients. Although I have shifted much of my purchasing to online simply because I loathe shopping with my small children, make-up is the kind of thing I like to shop for in person. So here's what I did.

How to Buy Non-toxic Lipstick (the hard way)

1. I went to Whole Foods and bought a lipstick. I bought a Gabriel lipstick. The ingredients looked reasonably innocuous and I liked the shade. Whole Foods will let you return any cosmetic you end up not liking within a short period (30 days, I think).

2. Eventually, and after a few times wearing it, I got around to looking up my Gabriel lipstick in the Skin Deep Cosmetic Database. I was not pleased to discover that it had a Hazard Score of 4 (moderate hazard), including an ingredient that scored a whopping 8 (high hazard). That ingredient was Vitamin A Palmitate or Retinyl Palmitate. On the one hand, Vitamin A is an ingredient that sounds pretty un-mysterious and harmless, especially as cosmetics go. On the other hand, I knew (but had forgotten) about the problems with Vitamin A (particularly when exposed to sunlight) from my research on sunscreens. The Skin Deep Database lists the following "Concerns" with this ingredient: "Biochemical or cellular level changes, Cancer, Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive)." All of which is to say, don't assume that every product in your nearby health foods store is as non-toxic as you would like it to be.

4. Back to square one. I looked at the lipsticks with the lowest hazard rating in the Skin Deep Database. But the list is long and where could they be purchased and which would I be able to find in a physical store so that I could check it out in person? I quickly decided this was not the best approach.

5. I called my local Whole Foods and asked them for the brand names of all the lipsticks they carried. I looked up those brands in the Skin Deep Database. One brand, Hemp Organics, was most promising. All their lipsticks had hazard scores of 1 or 2 (low hazard). The worst score for any individual ingredient was 2 (low hazard).

6. I went back to Whole Foods and picked a shade of Hemp Organics lipstick that I liked. Mission accomplished! I now have a non-toxic lipstick that I like.

After all this rigamarole to find a non-toxic lipstick, I decided to look up my old favorite: the Origins Matte Stick. I've used Origins Matte Sticks for many years because I like the matte finish and they stay on well. They are sort of like giant lip pencils. Unfortunately, the exact formulation of my two colors was not in the database, although many ingredients were the same, giving me a decent idea of what the hazard score of my current stick would be. And let me just say that I find it annoying that Origins doesn't list all ingredients on their product pages online, which I think every company but especially companies claiming to be natural or organic should do. Luckily, I still had the boxes my matte sticks came in to refer to for a list of ingredients. I did look up some of the weirder ingredients individually, with the main concerns being the artificial colors. I decided that my Origins Matte Sticks are still OK for occasional use, but the Hemp Organics lipstick is definitely the less toxic choice.


How to Buy Non-toxic Lipstick (the easy way)

1. Look up your current favorite (using Search box on Skin Deep Cosmetic Database). Might not be as bad as you think. Be sure to cross-check the ingredients listed with the formulation on your product or a list of ingredients online (manufacturers' website or online beauty/drugstores are good sources). If the formulation in the database doesn't match your product's you can either: 1) look up individual ingredients or 2) create your own custom report using the Build Your Own Report feature of  Skin Deep. Love this feature!

2. Call your local health foods or beauty store and ask what brands of lipstick they carry. Look those brands up in the Cosmetic Database  Again, it's usually a good idea to cross-check ingredients against another source. Identify which brands have the lowest hazard scores.

3. Go to your local store and choose a shade from the lipstick brands with low hazard scores.

Of course, if you have a Smartphone (I don't), you can do these steps standing in the store, although building your own report would be rather cumbersome on a Smartphone, I imagine, so I'd recommend doing a little research ahead of time, especially if you'll be shopping with kiddos.

What is your favorite non-toxic lipstick? 


More Posts about Non-toxic Personal Products
My Favorite Non-toxic Hair Products
Natural Deodorant that Works for My Husband
Non-toxic Tooth Care
Should I Use Sunscreen?

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This post is part of
Works for Me Wednesday