Lead in Lipstick and Other Urban Legends…

Lead in lipstick, Glade air freshener, and 90# — are these urban legends true? Internet ScamBusters #167

Today we’re going to let you know the truth about three of the hottest “urban legends” making the rounds:

– Lead in Lipstick

– Is Glade Air Freshener a Fire Hazard?

– 90# Phone Scam

Let’s now look whether these urban legends are true or not…

Lead in Lipstick

Here’s a sample of the lead in lipstick email that is currently making the rounds:

— Begin Lipstick Urban Legend email —

Subject: Lipstick alert forward

Please take the time to read this and pass it on to your women
friends. I think it’s information we should be aware of.

Lipstick Alert

If there is a female you care anything about, share this with
her. I did!!!!!

I am also sharing this with the males on my email list,
because they need to tell the females THEY care about as well!

Recently a brand called “Red Earth” decreased their prices
from $67 to $9.90. It contained lead. Lead is a chemical
which causes cancer.

The Brands which contain lead are:




4. Y.S.L



7. RED EARTH (Lip Gloss)

8. CHANEL (Lip Conditioner)


The higher the lead content, the greater the chance of causing
cancer. After doing a test on lipsticks, it was found that the
Y.S.L. lipstick contained the most amount of lead.

Watch out for those lipsticks which are supposed to stay
longer. If your lipstick stays longer, it is because of the
higher content of lead.

Here is the test you can do yourself:

1. Put some lipstick on your hand.

2. Use a 14k-24k Gold ring to scratch on the lipstick.

3. If the lipstick color changes to black then you know the
lipstick contains lead.

Please send this information to all your girlfriends, wives
and female family members.

This information is being circulated at Walter Reed Army
Medical Center.

Dioxin Carcinogens causes cancer, especially breast cancer.

— End Lipstick Urban Legend email —

Editor’s Note: This email is a hoax. We first saw this urban legend in the middle of 2003. No need to worry — and certainly no need to spread this myth.

You can find an excellent discussion of why this lead in lipstick email is nothing to worry about here.

Is Glade Air Freshener a Fire Hazard?

This email about Glade has been going around for many years, but it has really gotten popular again lately:

— Begin Glade Urban Legend email —

Subject: Did You Know This?

Thought this might be important to some of you!

Friends: My brother and his wife learned a hard lesson this
last week. Their house burned down… nothing left but ashes.
They have good insurance, so the home will be replaced and
most of the contents. That is the good news.

However, they were sick when they found out the cause of the
fire. The insurance investigator sifted through the ashes for
several hours. He had the cause of the fire traced to the
master bathroom. He asked my sister-in-law what she had
plugged-in in the bathroom. She listed the normal
things… curling iron, blow dryer.

He kept saying to her, “No, this would be something that would
disintegrate at high temperatures.” Then, my sister-in-law
remembered she had a Glade Plug-in in the bathroom. The
investigator had one of those “Aha” moments. He said that was
the cause of the fire. He said he has seen more home fires
started with the plug-in type room fresheners than anything
else. He said the plastic they are made from is a THIN
plastic. He said in every case there was nothing left to
prove that it even existed. When the investigator looked in
the wall plug, the two prongs left from the plug-in were still
in there.

My sister-in-law had one of the plug-ins that had a small
night light built in it. She said she had noticed that the
light would dim… and then finally go out. She would walk in
a few hours later, and the light would be back on again. The
investigator said that the unit was getting too hot, and would
dim and go out rather than just blow the light bulb. Once it
cooled down, it would come back on. That is a warning sign.
The investigator said he personally wouldn’t have any type of
plug-in fragrance device anywhere in his house. He has seen
too many burned down homes.

Thought I would warn you all. I took all of mine out!!!!

— End Glade Urban Legend email —

Editor’s Note: Although the manufacturer, SC Johnson, did a voluntary recall of their Glade “Extra Outlet Scented Oil Air Fresheners” a number of years ago, they did this without any actual reports of the product actually causing fire damage.

Nonetheless, this urban legend has spread like wildfire. 😉 Yet, people who have researched this relationship in depth have not been able to find any conclusive link between Glade air fresheners and fire damage.

So, beyond the link between ANY electrical appliance and fire risk, there is most likely very little fire danger posed by Glade air fresheners in particular. However, if you do have concerns, it is easy to avoid using this product.

90# Phone Scam

We first wrote about the 90# phone urban legend in the late ’90s, but it’s currently the top question on the ScamBusters site. You can see the original version of this email here (Urban Legend #3).

Here’s a more recent example email:

— Begin 90# Urban Legend email —


A well known telephone scam is now being used on cellular

If you receive a phone call on your mobile from any person
saying that he or she is a company engineer, or telling that
they’re checking your mobile line, and you have to press 90#.

End this call immediately without pressing any numbers. There
is a fraud company using a device that once you press 90# they
can access your “SIM” card and make calls at your expense.
Forward this message to as many friends as you can to stop it.

— End 90# Urban Legend email —

Editor’s Note: This email is mainly a hoax, but it does have one grain of truth to it. It is possible that a scammer could perhaps make long-distance calls and charge them to your phone bill on phones where you have to dial 9 to get an outside line AND systems that let you make a long distance call once you’ve gotten that outside line.

However, for residential and cell phones where you don’t need to dial 9 for an outside line, this is a hoax.

Time to close. We hope we’ve cleared the air about lead in lipstick, Glade, and the 90# phone scam. See you next week!