Fake “MAC” lipstick proliferates PH markets

Fake MAK lipsticks Photo ©
Fake MAC lipsticks Photo ©

THE EcoWaste Coalition, an environment and public health watchdog, on Monday warned the public, especially women, about the proliferation of fake MAC lipsticks laden with toxic lead in Philippine markets as it calls on health authorities to do something about it.

In a statement, the coalition disclosed that it detected high levels of cancer causing lead, 3,780 parts per million (ppm),   in 11 bogus MAC lipsticks that it bought recently for P45 to P65 per piece from cheap cosmetic vendors in DCLA Plaza, Davao City and 999 Shopping Mall in Divisoria, Manila. It added that it is about time that health authorities ran after dealers of toxic cosmetics. 

Citing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Cosmetic Directive, the coalition said the use of lead and its compound for cosmetic manufacturing and use is prohibited. It further noted that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), in its Administrative Order 2013-24, also totally prohibits the use of lead and lead compounds in the manufacturing of cosmetics.

Thony Dizon ©
Thony Dizon ©

“Some consumers knowingly pick branded counterfeits like ‘MAC’ because these are cheaper than the real ones and also because these are supposedly closer to the original products in terms of quality.  But, as our investigation shows, branded fakes can be notoriously toxic,” said Thony Dizon, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect coordinator.

“These lipsticks, sold by unauthorized retailers at bargain prices, are obviously falsified and substandard,” he added.

According to the company’s official website, “MAC Cosmetics does not offer its products through individuals, street vendors, flea markets, internet auctions, independent boutiques or unauthorized on-line retailers. 

MAC also does not sell its products at wholesale over the internet.

Using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, the group detected lead above the 20 ppm in 11 MAC imitation lipsticks.

Except for two (“MAC Charlotte Olympia” and “MAC Vivaglam”), the lead-tainted lip cosmetics all belong to the “MAC Zac Posen” lipstick collection.

The fake “MAC Zac Posen’” variant “Girl About Town” (No. 08) had 3,780 ppm total lead; “Embrace Me” (No. 05) had 2,719 ppm; “Rudy Woo” (No. 12) had 2,443 ppm and “Kinda Sexy” (No. 14) had 923 ppm.

The US-based Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC)  has stated that “the recent science indicates there is no safe level of lead exposure” and that “lead is a neurotoxin and can be dangerous at small doses.”

As a cumulative toxicant, “lead builds up in the body over time so low exposures repeated daily can add up to a significant exposure,” the CSC said.

Lead exposure has been linked to learning, language and behavioral problems, decreased fertility in both women and men, hormonal changes and abnormal menstrual cycles, and delayed onset of puberty in girls and deferred development of testes in boys, the EcoWaste Coalition reiterated.

The group also said that a pregnant woman’s exposure to lead may put her at risk for miscarriage, prematurebirth and reduced fetal growth, as well as harm her baby’s brain and central nervous system.

To prevent human exposure to lead in lipstick, the EcoWaste Coalition advised consumers to consider the following tips:

— Check first through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website ( if the desired lipstick has the required cosmetic product notification.

— Buy your lipstick from a legitimate retail establishment and demand for official receipt.

— Have doubts about the authenticity of the product if it is sold by an unauthorized dealer and if the price is unbelievably cheap.

— Cut back on your use of lipstick, especially if the product is not guaranteed as lead-free.

—-Don’t allow children to play with lipstick.

Nelson Flores, J.D., MSCK
A former reporter of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Manila Standard Today, and a regular columnist of the Metro Manila based daily tabloid newspaper Hataw; Nelson Flores is also the former Senior Associate Editor of the Houston based Fil-Am Press and former anchor of dzXL and dzRJ's weekend talk show Usaping Bayan. Mr. Flores has a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Law degrees from the University of Santo Tomas and Adamson University and a holder of a study certificate from the Diocesan House of Studies, Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI). He is a Freemason and member of Reagan Lodge 1037 in Houston Heights under the jurisdiction of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Texas and a member of the Missionary Society of Christ the King (MSCK).

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