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  QUESTION: Lead in Cosmetics, 04 Jul 2006, Western Australia

I have two questions please. First concerns cosmetics, in particular the powdered mineral variety currently sold at beauty salons (I.D. Minerals) - their product is promoted as being 100% natural minerals and they have a powdered black eye shadow/liner. Given that kohl is said to contain lead, is it feasible that these kind of eye shadows sold in Australia being 100% mineral origin could have a dangerous lead content? (And is there anywhere that can test this sort of powdered substance in small quantity to verify it is free of lead?)
Also, does customs check imported decorative cupboard handles etc from China and India etc for lead content before letting them through and is pewter a concern (pewter handles etc).
ANSWER: 06 Jul 2006

Dear Madam,

Regarding your question on lead in cosmetics, it is best to contact the retailer and ask about it. According to SUSDP (Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Drugs and Poisons), for Australian products that contain lead compounds need to be labelled as CAUTION in preparation for use as hair cosmetics and labelled as POISON in preparation for cosmetic use except containing 100mg/kg or less of lead. The label CAUTION is for substances with a low potential of causing harm and the label POISON is for substances with a moderate potential of causing harm.

If you want to send a sample for a test, See The LEAD Group's DIY Lead Safe Test Kit or you may send it to AGAL (Australian Government Analytical Laboratories). However it costs $110 for the first test so you may want to check with the retailer first. AGAL is also responsible for imported products so you may as well ask them about testing lead in cosmetic products. Their website is

Erik Wibowo
(Research Assistant of Global Lead Advice and Support Service)

Arsenic, lead and mercury discovered in Canadian cosmetics: study By Michelle Lalonde, National Post | Postmedia News | May 16, 2011

Heavy Metal Hazard: The Health Risks of Hidden Heavy Metals in Face Makeup May 2011 Environmental Defence Canada

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