Health group warns against fake lipsticks containing toxic metals

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Counterfeit makeup (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 5 ) — Cheap beauty comes with a steeper price, an environment and health group advised.

The Ecowaste Coalition Group issued a warning against "poison lipsticks" Sunday, after an investigation yielded counterfeit lipsticks containing dangerously high concentrations of heavy metal contaminants.

According to the group, an "unlawful sale" of counterfeit MAC and Qianxiu branded lipsticks was conducted in 168 Shopping Mall and Divisoria Mall in Manila, on Wednesday.

Of the 57 samples of lipsticks bought for P14.50 to P35 each, 55 were found to contain one or more toxic metals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury above allowable limits.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury among the "10 chemicals of major public health concern." 

Dr. Erle Castillo of the Medical Center Manila and the Philippine Society of Clinical Toxicology said these heavy metals can lead to "neurodevelopmental deficits, hormonal disruption, reproductive disorder and various diseases, including cancer."

The Ecowaste Coalition Group also released a list of products from the sale identified with excess lead, a chemical linked to neurological and intellectual deficiencies, above the limit of 22 parts per million (ppm).

  1. Qianxiu Matte Lipnicure #06, 42,900 ppm
  2. MAC Matte Lipstick Mariah Carey #02, 38,100 ppm
  3. Qianxiu It's Moisturizing  Matte Lipstick #06, 34,500 ppm
  4. Qianxiu Lipstick #06, 25,000 ppm
  5. Qianxiu Lipstick #01, 22,500 ppm
  6. Qianxiu Lipstick #10, 21,400 ppm
  7. Qianxiu Matte Lipnicure #04, 15,700 ppm
  8. Qianxiu It's Moisturizing  Matte Lipstick #04, 13,200 ppm
  9. Qianxiu Lipstick #02, 12,900 ppm
  10. Qianxiu Matte Lipnicure #02, 12,500 ppm
  11. Qianxiu It's Moisturizing  Matte Lipstick #02, 11,900 ppm
  12. Qianxiu Lipstick #07, 11,200 ppm
  13. MAC Matte Lipstick Mariah Carey #06, 9,401 ppm
  14. MAC Zac Posen Rudy Woo #12, 8,713 ppm
  15. MAC Matte Lipstick Mariah Carey #01, 7,327 ppm
  16. Qianxiu Lipstick #11, 7,258 ppm
  17. MAC Zac Posen So Chaud #04, 6,400 ppm
  18. Qianxiu Matte Lipnicure #01, 5,251 ppm
  19. Qianxiu Matte Lipnicure #10, 5,095 ppm
  20. Qianxiu It's Moisturizing  Matte Lipstick #01, 4,764 ppm
  21. MAC Matte Lipstick Mariah Carey #05, 4,539 ppm
  22. MAC Zac Posen Girl About Town #08, 4,285 ppm

The U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) warned high levels of lead could cause detrimental effects to the health of pregnant women and their unborn babies.

 "Lead can damage a developing baby's nervous system. Even low-level lead exposures in developing babies have been found to affect behavior and intelligence," it said.

Fake makeup has also been a pressing issue in other parts of the world for containing harmful chemicals. In April, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) seized $700,000-worth of counterfeit makeup found to contain high levels of bacteria and animal waste. The LAPD discovered the products after multiple customers complained of receiving rashes and bumps after using the items.

READ: Police find animal waste in counterfeit makeup — so it's not such a bargain after all

In the same month, the country's Food and Drug Administration banned several Korean makeup products for having dangerous levels of antimony, a chemical that may cause irrititation to the eyes, skin and lungs. Prolonged exposure to antimony may lead to lung diseases, heart problems, diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach ulcers.

READ: Some Korean beauty products banned by FDA