Are You Testing for Heavy Metal Impurities in Your Cosmetics? If Not, You Should Be!

Heavy metals are unacceptable cosmetic ingredients in Canada, and have been for quite some time. In fact, lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury, antimony and chromium are heavy metal ingredients that are already listed as prohibited on the Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist.

Despite these prohibitions, and even if manufacturers do not knowingly add heavy metals, they may still be found in cosmetics as impurities. Due to the persistent nature of these substances which are found in the natural environment (rocks, soil and water), they may be found in pigments and other raw materials. This issue has been under scrutiny for years now. To help clarify the issue, Health Canada released a guidance document known as “Guidance on Heavy Metal Impurities in Cosmetics.” This guidance document was released to determine and communicate appropriate limits of heavy metal impurities in cosmetics.

  • It is recommended that testing should be done for heavy metals in cosmetics to ensure the following limits are not exceeded: Lead ≤ 10 ppm, Arsenic ≤ 3 ppm, Cadmium ≤ 3 ppm, Mercury ≤ 3 ppm, and Antimony ≤ 5 ppm.

If technically feasible, it would be in the industry’s best interest to put systems in place to ensure heavy metal impurities do not exceed the aforementioned limits. Health Canada may request information on heavy metal test results for a cosmetic product if a risk is suspected. If Health Canada becomes aware of excess heavy metal impurities in a cosmetic product, they will evaluate on a case-by-case basis. Ultimately, the onus is on the manufacturer to ensure that consumers are protected and that proper heavy metal tests are being done on products so they contain as few heavy metal impurities as possible.

What to Do:

  • Ask FPR about a number of accredited laboratories who could provide heavy metal analysis if needed
  • If technically feasible, it is highly recommended that testing be done for heavy metals in cosmetics to ensure that limits are not exceeded

If you have any questions about heavy metal testing in cosmetics, please contact us at 905-271-2709.