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Deadly lip balm

With toxic ingredients being left off product labels, you may want to trade in your tube for one of these.

Yes, that seemingly innocuous, cheery little slick of color you use to brighten your smile — and frequently lick off your lips — can be toxic. Like so many things these days, cosmetics are rife with unhealthy ingredients — from heavy metals to endocrine disrupting chemicals, both of which can build up in our bodies and interfere with our health. Lip glosses are some of the worst heavy metal offenders, often containing the highest levels of lead, arsenic, and cadmium.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention deems lead exposure unsafe at any level and the EPA has linked arsenic to a host of illnesses including cancer — clearly something you want to avoid. But dodging it is tricky. We rely on labeling to stay informed, but you won’t find heavy metals listed on that pretty little tube. Thanks to loose regulation, it’s up to the manufacturer to ensure product safety and since these metals are generally considered by-products and unintentional, they’re not required to be listed on packaging.

"Do you know there’s actually an allowable amount of lead for lip gloss? It’s just unacceptable," says Kelly Teegarden, a stage III thyroid cancer survivor, who overhauled the chemicals in her life after becoming sick and decided to create her own beauty line, Kelly Teegarden Organics. "The ingredients I use for KTO are proven not to cause cancer or disrupt the endocrine system, and they're not on any hot list of any country. Putting on lip gloss should be a no-risk situation."

Hopefully, the passage of the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011, supported by The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, will change things for the better. In the meantime, we’ve rounded up some new balms and glosses with healthier ingredients and none of the aforementioned offenders:

bite beauty acai superfruit butter

We advocate adding this antioxidant superfruit to your diet and your lips. Not-so-fun fact: Many lip products on the market use gluten as a binding agent. Bite gets points for going gluten-fee with their line.
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kto lip gloss

No carcinogenic dyes here, Teegarden uses Dragon’s Blood, a natural red sap sourced from the Amazonian Dragon Tree, to color her glosses. In addition to the skin soothers inside (jojoba, safflower oil, shea butter, and aloe vera), the tube sports a handy mirror and ingenious press-on light.
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yes to carrots sweet fig lip butter

This cruelty-free balm is like a cashmere wrap for your pucker. It’s packed with SPF 15 protection plus nutritious ingredients like antioxidant-rich fig extract and moisturizing olive oil. Bonus: It’s free of parabens and phthalates too.
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dr. lipp’s original nipple balm for lips

Made from medical-grade lanolin (widely used by nursing moms), it’s become a makeup artist staple and cult-fave in the U.K. (Great Britain’s Olympic Heptathlon gold medalist Jessica Ennis is a fan). Stash it in your gym bag to moisturize your lips and heal irritations or abrasions on the fly.
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intelligent nutrients certified organic lip delivery antioxidant gloss

Created by Horst M. Rechelbacher, the man behind Aveda, this new brand's philosophy: “If it’s good enough to go on your body, it should be good enough to go into your mouth.” This reddish gloss (sheer enough to wear during your super sets) is petroleum-free and feeds your lips with a signature antioxidant complex, plus coconut, sunflower and palm kernel oils.
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sonia kashuk moisture luxe tinted lip balm

This new sheer-color balm from famed makeup artist Sonia Kashuk offers anti-aging moisture and protection (from free-rad-fighting cherry extract and SPF 15), plus a colorful tint. The healthy hydrators include safflower oil, essential fatty acids, and Brazilian Cai oil—cultivated through a sustainable development program.
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alba botanica hawaiian lip gloss

No matter what the weather, with one whiff of this clear coconutty gloss it's suddenly a warm June day. The vegetarian ingredients include shea butter, Vitamin E, organic coconut oil and beeswax to seal in moisture.
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