Fake MAC Mariah Carey lipsticks 'laced with lead'

Counterfeit MAC lipsticks on sales in the Philippines have been found to have high "extremely high" levels of lead, placing users at risk of potentially serious side effects.

The lipsticks – on sale at just 15 pesos (around 30 cents) apiece – were discovered by environmental group EcoWaste Coalition, and were being erroneously promoted as being part of a collection of MAC cosmetics endorsed by US singer Mariah Carey.

EcoWaste Coalition discovered the lipsticks from Meisy David Cosmetics and Beauty Products, a retail outlet in Angeles City, and had them analysed for lead using an Olympus Vanta M Series X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer.

The analysis showed that eight of the nine lipsticks had lead content ranging from 97 to 36,200 parts per million (ppm), way in excess of the 20 ppm limit under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive. The remaining sample, while still fake, was within the ppm limit.

“We find the extremely high levels of lead in bogus MAC lipsticks very disturbing," said Thony Dizon, chemical safety campaigner at EcoWaste Coalition.

"Lead accumulates in the human body over time so the repeated application of a leaded lipstick, even at low doses, can end up as a significant exposure for women," he added.

Lead exposure in women may result in hormonal changes, menstrual irregularities, infertility, miscarriage, pre-eclampsia, pregnancy hypertension, premature birth, low birth weight, and other birth defects.

EcoWaste Coalition has issued the following advice to consumers in the Philippines to avoid being exposed to lead and other contaminants in cosmetics such as lipsticks:

  • Refrain from buying unauthorised and imitation lipsticks.
  • Use the FDA Verification Portal to check if a product is notified with the agency.
  • Get your lipstick from an authorised dealer and ask for an official receipt.
  • If the price looks too good to be true, the product is most likely a counterfeit.
  • Use less, especially if the product is not guaranteed as lead-free.

It also reminded consumers that MAC does not offer its products through "individuals, street vendors, flea markets, internet auctions, independent boutiques or unauthorised online retailers."

Main image by David Mark from Pixabay

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