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Health Impact of Heavy Metals in Cosmetics

A variety of chemicals are used in cosmetics as ingredients and some are used as preservatives. These chemicals have different health effects.

Data Charts

Chromium in lipsticks

CSE calculated the exposure to heavy metals from cosmetics as percentage of Average Daily Intake (ADI). ADI is the maximum amount of a toxin that a person can be exposed to without any appreciable health risk. The graph below shows the level of exposure from Chromium in different brands of lipsticks as per cent of ADI. Exposure from two types of use—average use (24mg/day) and high use (87mg/day)—has been calculated.

CSE seeks clarification

CSE shared its findings with the respective companies to find out the reasons for the presence of such high levels of heavy metals in cosmetics. “We hoped that this would help find ways to limit the presence of heavy metals in cosmetics,” say CSE researchers. After several months of correspondence about batch details, testing methodology and follow-ups, only seven companies responded—The Body Shop India, Lakme of Hindustan Unilever Ltd, Hindustan Unilever Ltd, Emami Ltd, ELCA Cosmetics Pvt Ltd (Estee lauder), Modi Revlon Pvt Ltd and ITC Ltd.

Regulations for cosmetics

India

Cosmetics products in India are regulated under the Drugs and cosmetics Act 1940 and Rules 1945 and Labeling Declarations by Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). BIS sets the standards for cosmetics for the products listed under Schedule ‘S’ of the Drugs and cosmetics Rules 1945 .

Fact Sheet V: The chromium threat

In India, there are no set limits for chromium in colourants and finished products

Fact Sheet III: Colourants in cosmetics

The amount of colourant, used to impart colour to almost all cosmetic products, varies with colour, product and brand. BIS has set limits for heavy metals in synthetic, organic and natural colourants
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