A University of California, Berkeley study testing 32 common lipsticks and lip glosses found metals like lead, titanium, manganese and chromium.
Scientists were concerned that overexposure to the metals could lead to health problems in the long term, and asked government officials to take a closer look at regulations. Women who applied lipsticks several times each day were particularly at risk of overexposure.
The U.S. does not ban metals from cosmetic products, unlike European nations.
"Just finding these metals isn't the issue; it's the levels that matter," study principal investigator S. Katharine Hammond, professor of environmental health sciences, said in a prepared statement. "Some of the toxic metals are occurring at levels that could possibly have an effect in the long term."
Lead was found in 24 products at fairly low levels. Chromium, which has been linked to stomach cancer, was present in potentially dangerous levels in some lipsticks and lip glosses.
The European Union bans cadmium, chromium and lead in all cosmetic products.
"I believe the FDA should pay attention to this," said study lead author Sa Liu, a UC Berkeley researcher in environmental health sciences in a prepared statement. "The lipsticks and lip glosses in our study are common brands available in stores everywhere. Based upon our findings, more thorough survey of lip products - and cosmetics in general - is warranted."