For many women, lipstick is an important part of a daily beauty routine. Unfortunately, recent research has found that as many as 61 percent of lipsticks contain some amounts of lead. While some people may choose to send their lipsticks to professional chemistry labs for testing, this is not an option for all individuals. Fortunately, home lead test strips allow you to test for this dangerous contaminant in the comfort of your own kitchen.
Things You'll Need
Obtain lead test strips from an online retailer or science supply shop. Make sure that the kit has a sensitivity of at least 15 parts per billion for optimal results when it comes to testing for lead in lipstick. This has been identified as the safe upper limit for lead in certain products consumed by humans, including drinking water.
Prepare the lipstick for testing. Use a knife to cut a half-inch slice from the lipstick that you wish to test, place it in a glass bowl, and add enough white vinegar to cover it completely. Allow the lipstick to soak undisturbed in the vinegar bath for at least four hours.
Remove the lipstick from the vinegar bath, and place in the trash can. Pour a small amount of the vinegar into a sealable container — such as a plastic test tube — until it at least one-quarter full, and set aside. Depending on the specific brand of test strips used during this process, the specific type of sealable container used may vary.
Prepare the lead indicator strips for testing. Depending on the specific brand of test strips used during this process, preparation techniques may vary. Be sure to follow instructions included in the lead test kit. While some indicator strips may be immediately ready to use directly out of the box, others may need to be activated by applying a drop of specialized indicator solution.
Place the lead test strip into the vinegar solution, turn the container upside down to saturate the strip completely, then return it to its original orientation. Depending on the specific brand of test strips used during this process, the length of time that you will need to wait after placing the strips into the vinegar may vary. In some cases, results are available in as little as 30 seconds.
Examine the test strips. If the lead test strips change color, the solution likely contains lead — conversely, if there is no color change, the chances of lead being present are unlikely. In most cases, the darker the color change, the higher the concentration of lead. Review the instructions included with the specific lead indicator test strips that you purchase, to ensure that you are interpreting the results correctly.
Pour the vinegar used for the test down the sink, and flush well with clean water. Rinse the sealable container with clean water thoroughly, and place aside for future use.
References and ResourcesNew York State Department of Health: Get Ahead of Lead! Get the Lead Out of Drinking Water
First Alert: Lead Test Kit
CNN: Are Lipsticks Dangerous?
Safe Cosmetics.org: Lead in Lipstick
FDA Analyses of Lead in Lipsticks – Expanded Survey