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P. 55-58 /

Look beautiful but be aware: 
the hidden dangers of cosmetics

American University of Kuwait, College of Arts & Sciences, P.O. Box 3323, Safat, 13034, Kuwait


This review article summarizes the most recent published data pertaining to heavy metals content in different cosmetic products. Most of the cosmetic products such as lip gloss, mascara, foundation, blush, cream, blush, eye shadow, eyeliner etc. tested, contained different levels of heavy metals. The highest concentrations of heavy metal namely arsenic, cadmium, and lead were detected in lipsticks and lip glosses. The low concentrations of heavy metals measured in the different investigated products were reassuring; however, since they are used repeatedly and daily, the cumulative effects of prolonged heavy metals exposure may be of concern. Thus, the use of cosmetic products containing impurities such as heavy metals especially among children may constitute a public health risk.


The cosmetic industry is a huge business since its products are used routinely by individuals for routine body care and beautification purposes (1). During the last decade or so, in spite of the numerous reports and articles published by researchers, clinicians, and governmental agencies indicating that such products are unsafe and contain potential hazardous ingredients, the industry witnessed a huge boost in its sales all over the world. Such hazardous ingredients are known to include heavy metals (2).
Heavy metals are found naturally in the environment (rocks and soils). They are used by different industries including the cosmetic one in pigmentation and as raw material for centuries. Even historically, it is known that women have risked their health for beauty by using cosmetics loaded with poisons (3). It is reported that Queen Elizabeth’s face become so disfigured from lead contaminated make-up, she had all the mirrors in her palace removed. Moreover, in 18th century France, courtesans applied vermillion rouge, which contained sulphur and mercury, and suffered damage to their teeth, livers, and nervous systems as a ...

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