Health officials on Sunday warned the public against using unlicensed Chinese-made lipsticks and fake copies purporting to be legitimate brands as they may contain high levels of lead.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an advisory saying the products were being sold widely on the streets of many urban areas without the agency’s approval.
“These products may contain high levels of heavy metals, especially lead,” it said.
The lipsticks are “unnotified products from China or imitations of the original products being sold by sidewalk and ambulant vendors or outlets in the country,” the advisory warned.
The lipsticks carry the labels Baolishi, Miss Beauty, Shijing, Ling Mei and Heng Fang, it added.
“In adults, lead toxicant has been linked with high blood pressure, joint pain, poor memory and concentration problems,” the FDA said.
“The children are particularly at risk from neurotoxic effects of lead, which affect their brain development and cognition,” it added.
The agency said it had asked police and other law enforcement agencies to confiscate the illegal products.
The agency however did not say how the lipsticks entered the country, although the government had previously acknowledged that smuggling remained a problem due to rampant corruption in the customs bureau.
In 2010, the FDA banned at least nine Chinese brands of skin creams and whiteners that were found to contain high levels of mercury.