Among the call for cleaner and more eco-conscious beauty products, there are some keywords, like "cruelty-free" and "paraben-free," that get all of the buzz. Then, there are identifiers like "lead-free," which are largely forgotten in comparison, but no less important. The toxic metal is deemed unsafe at any level of exposure, and it has been linked to health concerns such as neurotoxicity and hormonal irregularities. Despite those health risks, lead in lipstick is shockingly common, which is especially concerning since it's going on your lips. And while it's not an easy task to find the best lead-free lipsticks, such a thing does exist, and there are resources (like this roundup ahead) you can use to help you on the search for your non-toxic match.
Wondering which lipsticks have lead in them? The FDA conducted an expanded survey in 2010, following their initial report in 2007, which ranks 400 lipstick shades and brands from the highest to lowest levels of lead found (it's worth noting that it's unclear if the brands on this list have reformulated their lipsticks since this survey was conducted). If you can't find your go-to lipstick on the FDA's list, you can do some digging on the brand's site by heading to the FAQs section. This is most commonly where you'll find confirmation that a company's products are lead-free, if it doesn't directly call products out individually.
And don't forget that a lot of language when it comes to "natural makeup" is misleading, because there isn't any FDA-regulated definition of the term. Basically, that means any beauty brand can slap the word "natural" on a product label, even if the formula is largely made of synthetic ingredients. Furthermore, many toxic ingredients (like lead) are technically natural, so calling a product "all-natural" isn't necessarily indicative of its safety. This is why it's important to really look into the products and ingredients you're using on a daily basis. When in doubt, the best way to determine if a lipstick is lead-free is to reach out to the brand directly through their customer service email or even Instagram DM.
To help you on your more conscientious approach to your makeup routine, here are five of the best lead-free lipsticks (brand-confirmed!) to try out.
1. The Best Prestige Lead-Free Lipstick
The Rituel De Fille Forbidden Lipsticks come in a range of stunning, vivid shades, all of which impart a semi-matte finish. If you're a little more daring with your lipstick looks, you'll love that this line includes a mix of subtle mauve tones; rich, blood-like reds, and intense dark berry hues. Rituel De Fille makes their lipsticks more wearable than your typical semi-matte formula by using hydrating ingredients (like castor seed oil and jojoba oil) to keep lips moisturized and soft. Packaged in slim, sleek black tubes that make application a breeze, the cruelty-free lipsticks are made of 100% sustainably sourced ingredients, according to the luxe, ethically-conscious brand. Get them in 10 different shades.
2. The Best Mid-Range Lead-Free Lipstick
Gabriel Cosmetics makes an entire line of vegan, cruelty-free, and lead-free lipsticks. Choose from an array of pink, red, and purple-hued shades in a variety of finishes: while most of the formulas are creamy and hydrating, some are sheer, some are shimmery, and others are matte. Each of the long-lasting lipsticks is formulated with jojoba seed oil, sesame seed oil, and safflower seed oil to prevent cracked lips and feathering. They're free of most other questionable ingredients, too, and you can even find a more comprehensive list of the common irritants and allergens Gabriel Cosmetics never includes listed on their site. Choose from 24 gorgeous lipstick shades.
3. The Best Affordable Lead-Free Lipstick
Manic Panic has earned a cult-following for its cruelty-free and easy-to-use hair dyes — but their equally-as-impressive makeup line has somehow managed to remain relatively under the radar. Their 48-color lipstick collection includes just about every shade you could want, from classic reds and soft pinks to more daring blue, green, and yellow colors.
They also developed their lead-free lipsticks in various finishes: Their Kitten Colors lipsticks deliver a true matte finish without drying out your lips, while the Creamtones impart a semi-matte finish while still feeling buttery smooth. And, if you prefer something sparkly, Manic Panic has their metallic Ice Metals formula, as well as an opalescent option called Peacock Shimmers for lovers of shimmer and shine. No matter which lipstick you choose, every color and finish is paraben-free, gluten-free, talc-free, and cruelty-free, in addition to being formulated without lead.
4. The Best Lead-Free Lip Tint
Sometimes you aren't looking for a full-on lipstick, but a more subtle option instead. The Pacifica Beauty Color Quench Lip Tint produces just a sheer burst of color while acting more like a heavy-duty balm to nourish your lips. In this formula, coconut oil, avocado oil, cocoa seed butter, and vitamin E are combined in every shade to deeply moisturize and soften lips. The tinted options, which range from a shimmery, sheer nude to a washed out berry, enhance your natural lip color while providing a slight plumping effect, though the lip tint is also available in clear.
Aside from the four color options listed on the page, they're also sold in two other colors, which you can find here.
5. The Best Lead-Free Lip & Cheek Duo
Whether you're constantly on-the-go or just appreciate the power of a good multi-tasking beauty product, the W3LL People Multi-Use Cream Stick is about to earn a spot in your makeup bag. The vegan and cruelty-free makeup stick might only come in one shade, but it was developed to look good on every skin tone. The sticks can be used as a lip stain, blush, and eyeshadow because of the long-lasting formula that's easy to blend and feels satiny smooth. Ingredients like castor seed oil, avocado oil, and shea butter ensure that no matter how you use the cream stick, you won't end up with any cracking or dryness throughout the day.
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