Ecowaste Coalition warns of fake lipsticks with high levels of toxic chemicals

February 14, 2019 - 3:08 PM
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Toxic lipsticks Interaksyon
Ecowaste Coalition listed ten imitation products of popular makeup products that contained the largest amount of harmful substances. (Facebook/Ecowaste Coalition)

An environment watchdog tagged imitation lipsticks from popular brand Mac Cosmetics to be among the most toxic lip products imported in the country.

Ecowaste Coalition listed top ten adulterated and misbranded lipsticks that contained high dosages of lead and other substances that pose risks to human health on Facebook on February 13.

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These lipsticks have lead concentrations above the 20 parts per million or ppm under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive or ACD. The amount of lead in their canisters or packaging units range from from 1,026 to 44,800 ppm.

These are:

  1. Qianxiu Hello Kitty #01 (pink canister), 44,800 ppm
    2. MAC Mariah Carey #02 (brown canister), 38,900 ppm
    3. Qianxiu Hello Kitty #10 (black canister), 28,700 ppm
    4. MAC Mariah Carey #06 (red canister), 12,600 ppm
    5. Qianxiu Unicorn #10, 11,900 ppm
    6. MAC Zacposen Rudy Woo #12, 9,571 ppm
    7. MAC Charm Red Lips Rudy Woo #12, 8,788 ppm
    8. Qianxiu Fashion #01, 6,013 ppm
    9. Baby Lips Perfect Match, 3,187 ppm
    10. Monaliza Series #10, 1,808 ppm

This list came from 115 samples, which are imitations of 11 makeup brands and are not registered with the Food and Drug Administration or FDA. These counterfeit products are worth P10 to P50 each bought from vendors in Baclaran, Cubao, Divisoria and Quiapo on February 5, 7 and 8, 2019.

The group used an X-ray fluorescence or XRF analytical device to screen the samples.

“The levels of lead in these lipsticks are way beyond the permissible limit and, without a shred of doubt, a serious safety concern. Teen girls and adult women should avoid these poison lipsticks as lead, a cumulative toxicant, can build up in the body over time with frequent application of such lipsticks. There is no safe level of lead exposure,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner of the coalition.

Aside from lead, some samples also went positive for the following substances: “mercury (32 samples), arsenic (53 samples), and cadmium (10 samples) in excess of the ACD’s trace amount limits for these heavy metals (1 ppm for mercury, and 5 ppm for both arsenic and cadmium).”

Health hazards

Many Filipinos resort to purchasing imitation or fake products because of their low prices compared to the original ones.

Original products from Mac Cosmetics are priced above P1,000.

However, these toxic chemicals are harmful to the human body, according to Dr. Erle Castillo, a toxicologist, citing several health problems they can cause even at low levels of exposure.

These risks include “damage to the brain and the central nervous system, hormonal changes and menstrual irregularities, infertility in both women and men, birth defects, as well as cancer.”

An article from reference website Healthline also stated that it’s possible for some fake makeup products to contain carcinogens arsenic, beryllium and cadmium.

“It also has an alarming number of potentially infection-causing bacteria that can lead to scarring, burning, and disfigurement,” said Dr. Bobby Buka of international brand First Aid Beauty.

Given that such harmful goods are imports, Ecowaste Coalition urged the government to strengthen its policies on preventing fake goods from entering the country.

“We also think that national and local government agencies should conduct nonstop law enforcement activities, including on-the-spot confiscation of contraband items and preventive closure of erring business establishments, to rid the market of toxic cosmetics,” Dizon said.