Some science behind the scenes

Eye shadow

Eye shadow, like lipstick appears to contain high levels of heavy metals - lead, cadmium plus a number of very toxic compounds.  The effects on the eyes would be cumulative over a number of years, but could easily result in blindness, glaucoma, cataracts etc.

Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2009 Jul;54(2):105-13. doi: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2009.02.005. Epub 2009 Feb 27.  Assessment of lead in cosmetic products.  Al-Saleh I1, Al-Enazi S, Shinwari N.
There have been a number of recent reports in the media and on the internet about the presence of lead in brand-names lipsticks. This has drawn our attention to assess the safety of various cheap brands of cosmetics sold at 2-riyals stores in Saudi market that are imported from countries where safety regulations are poorly enforced as well as they lack perfect conditions for manufacturing. Lead contents were determined in 26 and eight different brands of lipsticks and eye shadows …. There were four brands of lipsticks with lead content above the FDA lead limit as impurities in color additives (20 PPM). The FDA does not set a limit for lead in lipstick. Three of them were extremely high points and considered outliers. The median (25th-75th percentile) lead contents in pressed powder eye shadow was 1.38 (0.944-1.854) PPM wet wt. (n=22) in the range of 0.42-58.7 PPM wet wt. One brand was above 20 PPM the US FDA's lead limit as impurities… Lead is cumulative, and applying lead-containing cosmetics several times a day or every day, can potentially add up to significant exposure levels. Pregnant and nursing mothers are a vulnerable population because lead passes through placenta and human milk and affects the fetus or infant's developments. Our findings call for an immediate mandatory regular testing program to check lead and other toxic metals in lipsticks and other cosmetic products imported to Saudi Arabia in order to curtail their excess and safeguard consumer health.  PMID:  19250956


Contact Dermatitis. 2000 Jan;42(1):5-10.  Metals and arsenic in eye shadows.  Sainio EL1, Jolanki R, Hakala E, Kanerva L.
The regulations relating to cosmetic products give no limit values for toxic elements such as metals or arsenic occurring as impurities in cosmetic products. The present study of metals (lead, cobalt, nickel, chromium) and arsenic in eye shadows in 88 colors of 25 brands and 49 products provides a basis for assessing the safety of eye shadow. 66 out of 88 (75%) of the colors contained more than 5 ppm of at least one of the elements, and all 49 products contained more than one 1 ppm of at least 1 of the elements. … The highest levels of cobalt and nickel were 41 and 49 ppm, respectively. These levels were high enough to cause allergic symptoms in those previously sensitized. Furthermore, long-term exposure to such levels may probably sensitize. …. 9 colors had concentrations of water-soluble chromium exceeding 2 ppm, and a very high level, 318 ppm, was encountered in 1 case. …. The groups at greatest risk are those already sensitized to the allergenic elements.   PMID:  10644018



For iPad/iPhone users: tap letter twice to get list of items.