Blowing the FDA kisses over toxic lipstick

Mirror, mirror on the wall, which lipstick is the most toxic of all?

That's the question Tampa-based Tara Lee has for the Food and Drug Administration. Lee, 37, runs Best in Beauty (, a Web site that sells natural makeup, fragrances and skin- and hair-care products.

The site is built around the belief that some cosmetics contain dangerous concentrations of chemicals. Its "Message on a Mirror" campaign — waged via Facebook and e-mail — urges consumers to write a message to the FDA in lipstick, snap a picture of it and send it to Lee. She will gather the photos and forward them to the agency.

Lee has received more than 100 such notes, including ones that say "I'm not a chemist I have 2 trust u!" and "ingredients 4 pretty people should not be ugly."

The lipstick issue heated up in 2007 when the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics tested 33 lipsticks and found that 61 percent contained lead, a neurotoxin that accumulates in the body over time. An FDA spokeswoman said via e-mail that "FDA scientists have not found levels of lead inlipstick that would be considered harmful to humans." Lee suggests that women read the ingredient lists on their cosmetics — as one would with food — and choose products with short lists and pronounceable words.

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