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Portuguese consumer watchdog issues warning over red lipsticks

Published on 16/12/2019

The Portuguese Association for Consumer Protection, a consumer watchdog more simply known as DECO, has issued a public warning over three red lipsticks. Upon testing, the watchdog detected traces of lead and mineral oil components derived from petroleum in quantities exceeding those considered safe in red lipsticks on the market.

In certain concentrations, these derivatives increase the risk of genetic mutations and tumour development.

DECO say that they it had tested seven red lipsticks and found mineral oil aromatic hydrocarbons (MOAH) in three of them, belonging to the brands: Avril, Kiko and MAC.

The consumer watchdog explains that this is even more worrying on one particular case, as one of these red lipsticks, made by Avril, “is certified by Ecocert as a “natural” and “biological’” product”, and on the label informs that it does not use oil derivatives.

In the Kiko and MAC red lipsticks quantities higher than those considered safe of components of mineral oils derived from petroleum (MOSH and POSH) were also detected.

Regarding Kiko’s red lipstick, DECO argues that the concentration they calculated from their tests “does not comply with the recommendations of the industry itself (Cosmetics Europe)”.

The specific shade names of the red lipsticks that sounded the alarm in this study are Avril Le Rouge Hollywood 598, MAC Retro Matte Ruby Woo 707, and Kiko Kikoid Velvet Passion 05 Burgundy.

In a red lipstick produced by Maybelline, the watchdog says that it also detected these substances, however they are “acceptable levels of these substances”. Nevertheless it “contributes to the cocktail effect, i.e. to the overall exposure to them”.

Traces of lead were found in all the lipsticks analysed, “although at levels below the technically avoidable limit”.

“We reported the conclusions to Infarmed, the authority responsible for controlling cosmetics. Although the quantities of substances of concern are lower than those detected in other lipstick tests we have carried out, they are still a cause for concern”.

MOSH, POSH and MOAH are mineral oil components derived from petroleum, and are used in cosmetic products as softeners, skin protectors and viscosity regulators.

Despite their usefulness in fulfilling these roles, the derivatives “raise concerns when used in lipsticks”, says DECO, underlining: “The same goes for contaminants such as heavy metals”.

“Ingestion, which is a real scenario in the case of lipsticks, can involve the risk of genetic mutations and tumours”, they state.

It is worth highlighting that the test results apply to the products indicated, not to entire shades ranges. The watchdog explains that “the dyes vary with the shade of the lipstick, so the concentrations of the substances being tested for, particularly lead, may vary. Therefore, we cannot advise or advise against other lipsticks of the same brand”.