What do physicians think about lipstick?

What do physicians think about lipstick?

Posted on February 18, 2012

What is the Positive Lipstick Sign?

A little known fact about physicians in training, is that they are taught about the "positive lipstick sign." So along with being taught how to palpate livers, and ausculate heart murmurs, they are taught to notice a person's over all grooming and appearance. The positive lipstick sign means that a woman in the hospital is feeling better and feeling well enough to care about her usual appearance and apply some makeup, including lipstick! And that positive lipstick sign just may be the indicator that she is feeling well enough to be discharged home from the hospital. Women have known for centuries that feeling good and looking well is intertwined.

Concern for Lead in Lipstick

So, with all the recent hullabaloo in the press with certain lipsticks containing parts per million of lead, what is a woman to do? First of all, do not panic and do not throw away your lipstick. This amount of lead is very, very minute quantities and is not harmful to your health. It is reassuring, though, that the FDA does regulate this. In the past, cosmetics were known to contain potent hormones and phthalates (substances that disrupt hormones in the body) and regulations have been passed that have eliminated this practice.

Lead Poisoning

As far as heavy metals, mercury in fish is a concern, so limits in weekly fish intake are indicated in certain at-risk populations like: 

  • Pregnant women
  • Young children

Lead poisoning is still a concern, particularly in young children with growing nervous systems who may inadvertantly ingest leaded paint and pediatricians will frequently test young children's blood for lead levels.

As for me, I am about to apply my favorite lipstick and begin my day!

Be Strong. Be Healthy. Be in Charge!

-Dr. Holly L. Thacker

Holly L. Thacker, MD, FACP is nationally known for her leadership in women’s health. She is the founder of the Cleveland Clinic Women’s Health Fellowship and is currently the Professor and Director of the Center for Specialized Women’s Health at Cleveland Clinic and Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Thacker is also the Executive Director of Speaking of Women’s Health and the author of The Cleveland Clinic Guide to MenopauseHer special interests and areas of research including menopause and related medical problems including osteoporosis, hormone therapy, breast cancer risk assessment, menstrual disorders, female sexual dysfunction and interdisciplinary women’s health.

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