The Good, The Bad, & the Unhealthy

What’s Lurking In Lipstick?

This post may contain affiliate links.

Lipsticks are a great way to add a bit of color or dimension to your face. They are also a style all their own, with many people choosing it as a statement to add to their outfit or their general aesthetic. It can be a neutral tone or a deep red depending on what you feel like, and it doesn’t have to be just for special occasions.

A few years ago I worked with a girl who never wore any makeup except lipstick. She’d have gorgeous clean & moisturized skin with a punch of red to her lips whenever I saw her. Her style was so refreshing because I’d always thought that lipstick had to be part of a “look”. I thought a full face of foundation, mascara, eye shadow, and blush were some kind of pre-requistes to wear lipstick.

When, in fact, there are seriously no rules! If you want to wear it just to get coffee or on a night out there’s no one is stopping you, but you. You can do whatever the hell you want, and it’ll still look great. Promise.

Lipstick Doesn’t Stick

Just to be clear, we’re talking good old-fashioned lipstick here. No other kind of lip product. So if you do use lipstick regularly or just occasionally, it’s a good idea to make sure that what’s in it is ok to eat.

The fact is, if it goes on your lips then you’ll be ingesting it at some point whether it’s a lip balm or lipstick. A few years back there was a pretty dramatic statistic that blew up on the internet.

“A person will eat 7 pounds of lipstick in their lifetime.”

This was proven to not be entirely accurate… but also not entirely false. Even if a person started using lipstick everyday as a teen & into their elderly years, it’d be nearly impossible for them to eat 7 pounds of lipstick.

Lipstick Math

1 lipstick = 4 grams

28 grams = 16 oz (7 lipsticks per oz)

16 oz = 1 lb (112 lipsticks per lb)

2 lbs of lipstick = 224 sticks

Rather, the number is more like 1-2 pounds for regular users over their lifetime… but that’s still a lot of lipstick. Which means it’s not uncommon for a person to consume a pound of lipstick with irregular use. (So other than how it sounds) Here’s whats worse than eating pounds of cosmetics.

Lead & Titanium & Cadmium, Oh My

Lipstick naturally rubs off over time; whether it left a mark on a mug or transferred onto your food before eating, it comes off. How about when someone absentmindedly licks/bites their lips? Not to mention when there’s kissing involved.

One reason why this is important is because the human body is designed to quickly and easily absorb whatever you ingest. Which is not so great if what you’re eating isn’t meant to be eaten.

It’s the presence of unhealthy metals in these products that raises concern like lead, titanium, and cadmium. Now there are other ways the body is exposed to these metals. Lead can be ingested through water and cadmium is found in tiny amounts the air and food we eat.

Why worry about it then?

Well a study done on the levels of metals in lipstick found that 75% of the 24 products tested had significant amounts of lead.

Another study done in Japan showed that there were more significant health affects on women than men when they were exposed to cadmium. Though both had higher mortality rates if they had been exposed to it at all.

And that’s just one of the ingredient concerns to consider with lipstick.

Here’s the thing, no one can totally avoid coming into contact with any of these elements, but you can avoid choosing to ingest them.

What Not To Wear

Unfortunately, most popular makeup brands have lipsticks that should be going no where near your mouth.

I highly encourage all babes to wear, and myself never use, any products rating higher than a 2 on their face/body (as per EWG standards). Unfortunately, many brands don’t offer any lipstick less than a 4, and can be as high as a 9!

If you need a quick run-down of the EWG database, how it works, or to use it for yourself, you can check out my post here.

Lipstick Brands

Tarte: 35

Maybelline: 45

NYX: 46

Covergirl: 57

Rimmel: 59

*Note – some of these brands offer lipsticks in the 1-2 range. But this was only two or three products out of the thirty or more unhealthy lipsticks they offer! Bottom line: Consumers shouldn’t support brands that don’t support them. But if you do absolutely love one of their products then feel free to check if it passes the EWG test, just to make sure.*

Remember, no one should be putting anything higher than a 2 on their body, which makes these numbers even more alarming. When a product is at, or above a 2 on the hazard scale it is almost guaranteed that health issues will develop.

It is entirely too common for lipsticks to have these bad ingredients, especially when it is the only cosmetic a person could indirectly ingest.

Lipstick Love

If you love wearing lipstick, don’t get discouraged! There are lots of brands out there that offer healthy alternatives so you can keep those lips painted.

The following are all Bona Fide Babe approved (some of which I use).

Colour Pop

One of the coolest companies out there, Colour Pop strives to offer quality makeup at crazy low prices. They have so many lipsticks to choose from, many of which are award winners. Everything is purchased online so there are many pictures of people with different skin tones sporting the tone. (Really helpful if you can’t try it on in person!) Plus everything is always vegan, and cruelty-free.

Here’s their about page.

Here’s all their lipstick.

Bite Beauty

This Canadian company is my go-to for lipstick products. I’m in love with how smooth and creamy their formulas are, and they seem to last longer than most non-stain lipsticks. They only use high-quality natural ingredients that are super pigmented/bright! Although they aren’t considered vegan they are cruelty-free.

Bite Beauty “Amuse Bouche” Lipstick via the BiteBauty website.

Here’s the FAQ page.

Here’s all their lipsticks.

Sephora Brand

The Sephora Collection of lipsticks (and other products) has very high ingredient standards. They even go beyond satisfying European cosmetic safety standards – which are much higher than US. Though they don’t offer quite as many options as the other two brands, there is still something for everyone. All their products are affordable + have a good formula.

Rouge Shine Lipstick “Shining Moment” via the Sephora website.

Here’s their about page.

Here’s all their lipsticks.

It’s still pretty weird to think that anyone could eat a pound or more of lipstick… but at least with these brands it won’t have bad ingredients to worry about.

There are so many ways to express yourself, and lipstick can continue to be on of the ways you do that! All of these brands give the lipstick lover something to feel good about.

Information Resources

Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety – Testing Cosmetic Substances

Berkley Study On Metals In Lipstick

Metals In Lipstick

Eating Pounds of Lipstick Myth

Blog Math on Lipstick Eating Myth

FutureDerm On Lipstick Myth

FutureDerm On Lipstick Myth

Lead – ASTR

Titanium – ASTR

Cadmium – ASTR

Study On Health – Cadmium Intake

Cadmium In Lipstick

EWG Standards

As always, be sure to reference the reviews of any product. Never take one person’s word as law because everyone is different! You’ll have different skin needs or desires which can be re-affirmed by other’s experiences.


Enjoyed the article? Want to win something each month? Want to become A Bona Fide Babe?

Join A Bona Fide Babe by signing up for the the monthly newsletter where I feature a new product each month, update subscribers on recent posts, and did I mention the free giveaway? Check out the newsletter tab for more details ♥


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Become A Bona Fide Babe