Urban Legends

Lipstick = Lead-Based Paint?

The Legend

Submitted via e-mail in July 2005

Lead is a chemical or "element" which causes cancer, learning disabilities, seizures, and death and, if ingested in large amounts, feelings of extreme heaviness. Recently, a brand of lipstick called "Red Earth" that costs from $9 to $67 was found to contain a great big pile of lead. There was so much lead that a single tube of the stuff weighed more than four pounds. This is bad.

Here are some other lines of lipstick that have lead in them:

  1. Christian Dior's "Heavy Petals"
  2. Lancome's "Weight of Your Kiss"
  3. Clinique's "Lead Him On"
  4. Y.S.L.'s "Density"
  5. Estee Lauder's "Burden"
  6. Shiseido's "Not for Human Consumption"
  7. Chanel's "#82"
  8. Market America-Motives' "Tube o' Lead for Lips"

Lead is added to lipstick because it makes it harder to remove. More reputable brands use epoxy or other leadless substances for the same purpose.

Here's how you can test your lipstick to see if there is lead in it:

  1. Open your lipstick and extend the lipstick as far as it will go from the tube.
  2. Fire a .22 caliber revolver at the exposed lipstick.
  3. If the bullet bounces off or merely dents the lipstick, it's loaded with lead.

Please send this information to all your girl friends and gay/fetishist/Goth/cross-dressing/actor male friends.

Behind the Legend

We were curious about whether or not lipstick really did or did not contain lead. To test the theory, we purchased several tubes of the product mentioned in this e-mail and put them through their paces. Here are our results:

  • Lead has been used in paint. We tried painting with the lipstick, and sure enough it left a dark, thick color on the wall.
  • Lead is used as a radiation shield. We found that mice covered in lipstick and exposed to heavy dosages of radiation still got cancer or (with extreme radiation levels) burst into flames.
  • Lead is used as solder for joining electronic components. We were unsuccessful in our attempts to solder with lipstick.
  • Lead was used to make plumbing in ancient Rome. We verified that ancient Roman females (and Emperor Caligula) also used lipstick.
  • Lead has been added to gasoline to reduce engine knocking. Adding lipstick to our car's fuel did reduce knocking (largely because the car soon stopped running at all).
  • Pencils write with pencil lead. We were able to write with lipstick, but since pencil "lead" is actually graphite, this simply demonstrated that lipstick is also full of graphite.

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