Makers of cosmetics deny presence of heavy metals in products

CSE says industry is taking advantage of regulatory loopholes

By Kundan Pandey
Published: Friday 17 January 2014

The cosmetics manufacturing industry appears to be in denial mode after Delhi non-profit Centre for Science and Environment published its findings after testing major brands of lipsticks and fairness creams. Many cosmetic companies have claimed in the media that their products “do not contain heavy metals”. ColorBar cosmetics, while responding to media queries, said there is no trace of chromium in their products. The CSE tests had found 17.83 parts per million (ppm) chromium—the highest among all samples of lipsticks—in Hearts & Tarts (080V) shade of ColorBar lipstick. The same lipstick had 5.47 ppm nickel.

Lancome, owned by a French company L’Oreal, also maintained before media that consumers’ safety is their highest priority. It claimed that the company follows all national and international standards and does not use heavy metals as ingredients. The researchers found 9.18 ppm nickel (highest concentration) in Labsolu Nu shade-204 of Lancome lipstick.

Both companies had failed to reply to CSE's queries when contacted earlier. ColorBar has accepted in the media that CSE had approached them with its finding. Programme manager of CSE's food and toxins unit, Amit Khurana, said that when ColorBar was approached, they asked the batch details of the product and it was given to them. They assured us they will get back but did not. L’Oreal did not respond to any queries, he added. Along with ColourBar cosmetics and L’Oreal India Pvt Ltd, other companies which did not respond to the queries were Bio Veda Action Research Company, VLCC Personal Care Ltd, Blossom Kochhar Beauty Products Private Limited, Lotus Herbals Limited and Proctor & Gamble (India).

Despite such claims, it is clear from CSE's study that heavy metals are reaching consumers in the finished products. As for the claims of cosmetics companies that they are meeting the Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS) norms, Khurana said there are no standards for chromium and nickel in lipsticks. BIS standards are only for arsenic and lead. This means that they are not obligated by law to measure chromium and nickel in their products. There is regulatory gap which the industry seems to be taking advantage of, he said.


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