The inclusion of heavy metals in cosmetics is an inevitable truth. Cosmetics, either natural or artificial do contain some amount of heavy metals in them. These can be present as manually added ingredients or just contaminants. Nonetheless, the presence of heavy metals cannot be ignored due to their far reaching negative effects on the human metabolism and health.
However, the addition of heavy metals is a necessity for some cosmetic products. This in turn requires the regulatory authorities to draft strict and scientifically safe limits for their composition in cosmetics. As a matter of fact, many cosmetics used on a daily basis, such as lipstick, nail colour, eyeliner, etc, contain heavy metals
Heavy metals like lead, arsenic, mercury, aluminium, zinc, chromium and iron are reported to have been found in a wide variety of personal care products including lipstick, whitening toothpaste, eyeliner and nail colour. Some metals are intentionally added as ingredients, while others are contaminants. Exposure to metals has been linked to health concerns including reproductive, immune and nervous system toxicity.
While some metals are contaminants of the chemical combining process, others come from colorants. For instance, chromium is used in a very small number of products as a colorant, and iron oxides are common colorants in eye shadows, blushes and concealers. Some aluminium compounds are colorants in lip glosses, lipsticks and nail polishes. In addition, some colour additives may be contaminated by heavy metals like arsenic, lead and mercury.
In the wake of certain imported cosmetic products found to be containing spurious materials, especially heavy metals in cosmetics, which are hazardous to the body, the government of India has issued regulations regarding registration and testing of all the imported cosmetic products. However, the imported cosmetic items which are not meant to be sold in the Indian market are out of this bound.
The regulation is effective from October 1, 2011. As per the Indian Drugs and Cosmetics Act of 1940, the registration could be issued by the office of the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) or his nominee.
Rule 134 of Drugs and Cosmetics Rules has laid down restrictions on use of cosmetics containing Dyes, Colours and Pigments other than those specified by the Bureau of Indian Standards (IS: 4707 Part 1 as amended) and Schedule Q.