The letter, dated July 29, warns Lime Crime that the coloring agents ferric ferrocyanide and ultramarines, listed on the labels of Lime Crime’s Velvetines Liquid Matte Lipstick, are not permitted in lipsticks, Fashionista reports. These coloring agents are permitted in “externally applied cosmetics” under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act but that designation does not include lipstick, because lipstick comes into contact with the mucous membranes of the mouth and lipstick ingredients can be absorbed. The FDA has not tested the lipsticks for the presence of these coloring agents but issued the warning on the basis of the label’s ingredient list. Lime Crime must either remove the ingredients from the lipstick or, if the ingredients are not actually present, the company must change the label, Fashionista reports. The FDA letter refers to the lipstick as “an adulterated cosmetic because it bears or contains a color additive which is unsafe within the meaning of section 721(a)” of the act.
Ferric ferrocyanide and ultramarines have both been given a low/moderate toxicity rating in the Environmental Working Group database, but both are potential irritants. Randy Schueller, a cosmetic chemist and co-founder of the web site The Beauty Brains says such FDA letters are a relatively common occurrence. Lime Crime, known for its nontraditional lip colors, has had a tumultuous recent history, according to Fashionista.
Kseniya Vorostova—who is now known by the name Doe Deere—launched the company in 2008 to fill a market niche for colorful cosmetics. But Lime Crime has been accused of repackaging other companies’ products and a few years ago vegan makeup users criticized the company—which says it is vegan—for products containing beeswax and carmine, Fashionista reports. Lime Crime removed these non-vegan ingredients from Lime Crime products. In February of this year, Lime Crime suffered a credit data breach, which customers thought was not handled well. A few months ago, online threads began to point out Lime Crime’s use of ferric ferrocyanides in the Velvetines products, and this is likely how the FDA became aware of the ingredients.
Lime Crime says the products named in the FDA letter were merely mislabeled. In a statement emailed to Fashionista, Lime Crime wrote, “The Velvetines are absolutely safe to use. However, a misprint occurred on some of the labels. We are working with the FDA to correct this. Customer’s safety is always a top priority for us. We apologize for any concern or confusion the misprint may have caused.”