[Urgent new warning] Could you get lead poisoning... from your hair dye?

You’re only as old as you feel. 

But you don’t want to look in the mirror and see an old lady… when you feel like a million bucks! 

Coloring our hair as we get older helps keep our sense of dignity.  

No matter WHAT the calendar might say. 

But that boost of confidence has come at a price — we’ve been exposing our heads to lead. 

And now, the feds have FINALLY taken notice, ordering the removal of lead acetate from all hair coloring products. 

It’ll take at least a year for the lead-soaked dyes to come off the shelves… so here’s what you need to know before you wash that gray right out of your hair.  

Feds finally stop dragging their feet 

Lead was banned from paint, housewares, and toys in 1978.  

The EPA forcibly removed it from gasoline in 1990. 

But somehow, our government officials thought it was just fine and dandy for a form of lead known as lead acetate to be added to hair dye as a color additive in 1980. 

And our officials haven’t TOUCHED that ruling since – despite the fact that Canada banned lead acetate as a coloring agent in 2008.  

Finally, a consortium of environmental and health advocacy groups – including the Environmental Working Group (EWG) – petitioned the FDA last year to repeal its permits for lead acetate from nearly four decades ago. 

Why did the FDA need to be reminded that there’s no safe level of exposure to lead for it to stop dragging its feet? Or that it’s a known carcinogen? 

Not only that, but we’ve known for a while now that our skin can absorb lead acetate – and when it does, the toxin can travel through our bodies and into our brains. 

Somehow, it took nearly 40 years for these guys to figure out that “there is no longer a reasonable certainty of no harm from the use of this color additive.” 


The new ruling comes better late than never.  

But since manufacturers have until December 1, 2019 to remove the ingredient from their formulations, here are three ways to stay safe from cosmetic lead exposure: 

  1. Check the ingredient list for “lead acetate” on any hair dye you’ve purchased or plan to purchase. That goes for your drugstore color-in-a-box as well as the professional-grade base colors and glosses at your salon.  
  1. Look for warnings on the label that are classic red flags for lead acetate, even if you don’t see it in the ingredient list. It could say “WASH THOROUGHLY IF THE PRODUCT COMES INTO CONTACT WITH THE SKIN” or something along the lines of “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. 
  1. Beware of OTHER cosmetics that may contain lead and do not have to be preapproved by the FDA before they enter the marketplace. Those include lipsticks, eye shadows, blushes, lotions, mascaras, foundations, powders, and even shaving creams. The FDA allows a maximum level of 10 parts per million for lead in lipstick.