Heavy metals are elements that occur naturally in the earth but become concentrated and widely distributed in the environment via human activities like mining and manufacturing. (This is one of many reasons we often share the idea that just because an ingredient is natural, that doesn’t always mean it’s “safe.”) As a result of the manufacturing process of raw materials, we’re exposed to heavy metals, usually in very small amounts measured in parts per million (ppm).
Some heavy metals, like lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury, may cause organ damage and are classified as possible or known human carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, but the severity of their effects depend on factors like dose, route of exposure, and age at exposure. Heavy metals can make their way into cosmetics through minerals, clays, and both natural and synthetic colorants and it is difficult to assess the potential human health risk by screening alone.
We needed to define our own allowable limits of heavy metal levels in order to institute a standard that would be mindful of consumers’ health and keep this issue front and center for suppliers, formulators, and our company.
So, in the absence of U.S. governmental guidance, we have set our allowable limits at or below the strictest international guidance on acceptable trace levels of heavy metal impurities in cosmetics, using the most up-to-date scientific evidence to inform our standards.
That means that Beautycounter is testing all of our color cosmetics for heavy metals and doing our best to reach “non-detectable” heavy metal limits when possible, while always keeping them within our health-protective company standards. We may not always have the control we’d prefer, but we are doing our best and keeping our customers informed every step of the way.
To view our heavy metal testing results, please visit our blog.