This myth came about from a hoax email claiming that the lead in lipsticks causes cancer, and newspaper articles suggesting that butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP) causes breast cancer. These claims are not true.
Lipsticks can be made from a wide variety of ingredients that may include heavy metals, synthetic dyes, fragrances and preservatives and a range of other chemical stabilisers. High exposure to lead and BBP are unsafe, however the levels found in lipstick are insufficient to have adverse effects.
Cosmetic products in Australia are regulated by the Australian government, who assesses the ingredients used in the manufacture and importation of cosmetics to make sure that these products are safe. All cosmetic products and their ingredients must comply with the legislative requirements for cosmetics covered in the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989 and theCosmetics Standard 2007. The National Industrial Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) is the agency responsible for ensuring that cosmetics products comply with these legislation. Cosmetic products, including lipstick that had levels of ingredients that would be harmful to humans are not and would not be approved for use in Australia.