HealthyStuff.org

HealthyStuff.org Findings

HealthyStuff.org releases new test results for a variety of products throughout the year. Our findings section highlights the latest set of test results, discusses overall trends and important findings for each set of products tested.

2011 Halloween Makeup Findings

flickr-rosheeymosheeyThe results of this study show that make-up products marketed to children are universally contaminated with heavy metals. A May 2011 study by Environmental Defence (Canada) of adult cosmetics also found that 100 percent of the 49 cosmetics tested were contaminated with hazardous metals. These metals are typically considered impurities and are not subject to the same level of disclosure and regulations as intentionally added ingredients. None of the metals we found were listed as ingredients on the product labels. A summary of the results of the study are presented in the table below.

Data Summary

Individual product test results can be viewed on our product detail pages or data for all 31 products we tested can be downloaded.

  • Overall, 100 percent of the products tested contained detectable levels of one or more of the hazardous metals.
  • Fifty-two percent of Halloween makeup tested contained detectable levels of cadmium. The maximum level of cadmium detected was 455 ppm (parts per million).
  • Products tested were purchased from retailers in southeast Michigan, including Target, Halloween City, Party City, and Spirit Halloween.
  • Product manufacturers included Rubie's Costume, JA Cosmetics, Tish & Snooky's Manic Panic NYC, Forum Novelties, Costumes USA, and Spirit Halloween.
  • Other metals detected include:
    • Arsenic -- 29 percent (9 of 31 products)
    • Tin -- 52 percent (16 of 31 products)
    • Antimony -- 16 percent (5 of 31 products)
    • Mercury -- 13 percent (4 of 31 products) and
    • Lead 3 percent (1 of 31 products).
  • The highest levels of cadmium, mercury, arsenic and antimony all exceeded Health Canada's Draft Guidance on Heavy Metal Impurities in Cosmetics.
  • Chemicals may be present at levels lower than the detection limit of the high definition X-ray fluorescence device we used. Cosmetics also contain other ingredients that were tested for and which may be hazardous. The full ingredient lists can be viewed at HealthyStuff.org and consumers are urged to consult the Skin Deep cosmetics database for detailed explanations.

NOTE: HealthyStuff.org is an initial screening of chemicals in products for a handful of hazardous chemicals. There are a number of chemicals of concern that the X-ray fluorescence (XRF) device and HealthyStuff.org cannot detect. For example, there has been much concern recently about bisphenol A, a component of polycarbonate plastic. The XRF device is not able to detect bisphenol A, nor can it identify polycarbonate. In addition, the XRF device cannot detect phthalates, a family of chemicals of concern, although we have used the presence of PVC plastic as a surrogate for the likely presence of phthalates.

HealthyStuff.org ratings do not provide a measure of health risk or chemical exposure associated with any individual product, or any individual element or related chemical. HealthyStuff.org ratings only provide a relative measure of high, medium, and low level of concern or concentrations of several hazardous chemicals or chemical elements in product in comparison to criteria established in the methodology.

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