The use of lead in cosmetic products is specifically banned in the European Union and the UK by the cosmetics legislation.
It must however be recognised that lead is a naturally occurring element that is found everywhere in the environment and it is possible that minute traces are carried into cosmetic products from the environment or during manufacture. These extremely low levels are taken into account as part of the safety assessment to ensure their presence does not pose a risk to human health. Given the ability of today's analytical technology to detect extremely low levels, it is to be expected that some studies claim to have found traces of lead in some products. Such reports resurface periodically often with claims that the products are dangerous.
In response the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has developed and validated a new method for the analysis of lead in lipsticks and has applied the method to the same selection of lipsticks evaluated in one of the reports. Contrary to the original report, the FDA does not believe that the lead content found is a safety concern. See the FDA website for further details.
E-mail hoax: An old internet rumour is routinely re-circulated via e-mail alleging that lipsticks contain lead and may therefore cause cancer. The message goes on to name various brands and even suggests you can test for the presence of lead by using a gold ring. Finally, the message asks you to pass the information on to friends. The allegations in the e-mail are false and the gold ring test simply does not work.