“I’d kill to look like her.” A comment that any young girl has (probably) made at some point in her life when referring to someone’s flawless makeup and skin. We all want to have that perfect look: the impeccable face, mesmerizing eyes and pouty lips. What Sharima Rasanayagam, director of science at the Breast Cancer Fund, is trying to tell young girls is that these products can, if fact, lead to an early death.

The cosmetic product than can cause the most health damage is lipstick; instead of enhancing women’s beauty, it is reducing their lifespan. This damages the health of women the most because it is reapplied the most frequently and contains the largest amounts of lead and traces of other heavy metal substances. Medical experts say that the only safe level of lead in the blood is no lead at all.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claims that the amount of lead in makeup, such as lipstick, is nothing to worry about and is not a safety concern for women. I find this hard to believe as lead is an ingredient in not only lipstick, but other cosmetic products such as foundation and face creams as well.

Why should lead not be listed on the product details itself? Is it too much trouble for the FDA to lobby Congress to update the rules and regulations of the cosmetic industry? People spend plenty of time lobbying for things that do not pose as much of a health risk, such as regulations on washing machines in households and commercial settings. If people, time and resources can be allocated on such trivial issues, then the FDA should take the time to save people from lead intoxication.

The FDA claims that the lead found in some lipsticks only begin to affect women who apply lipstick more than two to 14 times a day. Women have the right to know that what they’re applying in order to look presentable and professional can affect their physical health. Additionally, when one uses lipstick every day over the course of their lifespan, they greatly increase the health risks they will have as they get older, such as a damaged nervous system and tumors in the stomach due to ingested toxins.

Lead is not the only metal poisoning young women who wear lipstick. Other toxic heavy metals such as chromium, cadmium, manganese and aluminum were found when lipstick was chemically tested. Lead is detrimental to the health of a person, as are the other metal materials found in lipstick. A combination of these metals, inconsistent and unchecked, can only lead to greater physical health problems to the women who wear such products consistently.

The FDA and Congress should get involved in regulating the cosmetic industry by ruling that heavy metal toxicants must be listed as ingredients on the product, in order to inform women that what they are applying to their lips a dozen times a day can be harmful. Is beauty really worth the health risks? It doesn’t need to be if regulations are created and enforced. All in all, we shouldn’t have to worry about what harm we’re doing to our bodies every time we get ready to go out.

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