Lead acetate is a color additive that can be found in hair dyes and some conditioners that gradually change hair color, otherwise known as “progressive” hair dye products. While Canada and Europe have banned the sale of cosmetic products containing lead acetate for nearly a decade now, the ingredient is still quite legal here in the good-ol’ USA. (1)
Numerous studies have linked lead acetate to a swarm of health concerns: (4)
- Hormone disruption
- Human developmental toxicity
- Reproductive toxicity
- Environmental toxicity
- Wildlife toxicity
This year, more than a dozen health advocacy groups petitioned the FDA to ban the use of lead acetate in hair dyes, as it has been identified as a neurotoxin and carcinogen. (1,4)
The FDA approved use of the ingredient in hair dyes back in 1980, citing trials in which the topical uses of lead acetate did not increase levels of lead in the blood, so they allow its continued use with the following disclaimer required on the label: (2)
“Caution: Contains lead acetate. For external use only. Keep this product out of children’s reach. Do not use on cut or abraded scalp. If skin irritation develops, discontinue use. Do not use to color mustaches, eyelashes, eyebrows, or hair on parts of the body other than the scalp. Do not get in eyes. Follow instructions carefully and wash hands thoroughly after use.”
Contrary to the FDA findings, there are several studies showing significant absorption through the skin into the blood when applied topically. (1,3,4)
Toxins Can Be Absorbed through the Skull, Affecting Brain Chemistry
I recently wrote about 13 emissary veins in the human skull that help drain, cool and relieve pressure from inside the cranial vault. These veins are bi-directional, which means they can either take waste out of the brain into the veins of the scalp, back into vascular circulation, or they can potentially transport nutrients or dangerous toxins and infections from outside the skull into the brain.
In one study, researchers combined the drug, methadone (used to treat heroin addiction), with sesame oil and massaged the mixture into the scalp in an attempt to determine if any of the methadone would penetrate the skull and enter the brain chemistry. As a control, they measured the amount of methadone that entered the brain through an oral dose.
They found that there were almost the exact same levels of methadone in the brain from the head massage with sesame-methadone oil as the oral dose of methadone. (5)
We RecommendDo Your Hair Products Seep Into Your Brain?
There are numerous unregulated toxins found in commonly used skin care products and cosmetics that the FDA allows for similar reasons to those mentioned above. Basically, the FDA will only take steps to ban a chemical if there is “reliable information” that there has been a problem with that chemical.
In reality, nothing gets done to ban these chemicals unless there is a public outcry – thus the dozens of advocacy groups recently petitioning the FDA to ban cosmetic chemicals.
Chemicals such as phthalates, parabens (often found in moisturizers, make-up and hair products), and triclosan, which was banned from use in hand soaps in 2016 by the FDA, are all still allowed in cosmetics. (1)
The real kicker is that even after these chemicals have been found to be toxic, it can take years before they are banned!
If you must dye your hair, be sure to look for salons that use natural hair color treatments. If you are unable to locate a green salon near you, ask the salon if you can bring your own non-toxic products to the appointment. The Environmental Working Group’s site, Skin Deep, has an extensive list of clean hair products.
Clean Skin Care
At LifeSpa, we believe that what you put on your body is as important as what you put in your body. Today, too many skin care products are loaded with preservatives and chemicals that may be perceived as foreign to the body. This perception by the body can trigger a rejection of the products, making them unable to deliver the promised results.
In 1998, I teamed up with a natural pharmacist to co-create a line of preservative-free Ayurvedic skin care products. Combining the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda along with the most current research in natural skin care, we created our LifeSpa Organics Skin Care line.
My goal was to create products that would support the natural function of the skin to moisturize, cleanse and rejuvenate. Using organic herbs and preservative-free ingredients along with time-tested Ayurvedic beauty principles I learned in India back in 1986, we created something that has been selling through word of mouth ever since!