What's really in your lipstick?

Most of us own at least a few lipsticks, whether your go-to shade is a barely-there nude or you prefer a vampy red lip. But if you're anything like most of us, you've probably never stopped to think about exactly what ingredients are in your lippie. So we thought we'd find out...

Lipstick ingredients

The average lipstick contains the following:

  • 65% castor oil
  • 15% beeswax
  • 10% other waxes
  • 5% lanolin
  • 5% dyes, perfumes and pigments

Let's look at each ingredient in a bit more detail...

Waxes and oils

The structure of lipsticks is down to the waxes used in its formulation. A number of different waxes are used in lipsticks, including Candelila wax, Carnauba wax and beeswax. Because Carnauba wax has such a high melting point, it helps to prevent lipstick from melting. Waxes are also responsible for the glossy appearance and moisturising benefits your lipstick provides, helping you to look great for your date! Oils are used to make lipstick glossy and help it glide smoothly onto the lips - castor oil is most commonly used.

Pigments and dyes

Lipstick colours come from a wide range of different dyes and pigments. Carmine red, a frequently used pigment, comes from scaled insects. Titanium dioxide is often used to dilute vivid colour for more subtle pink shades.

Other compounds

Depending on the brand of lipstick you use, other compounds can also be added. Fragrances are often used to mask chemical smells and if your lippy promises 'plumping' benefits then chances are it contains capsaicin, the compound found in chillies. In small quantities, its irritating qualities can help to plump lips.

Different brands, different ingredients

The average lippie contains several hundred different chemical compounds to create the finished product and you could be unknowingly putting these chemicals onto (and into) your body on a daily basis, so try to buy natural lipsticks and products wherever you can. There are a number of common ingredients found in almost all lipsticks. Red lipsticks, as we mentioned earlier, use a pigment known as 'Carmine red' which is made by boiling the bodies of crushed cochineal beetles (yuck!) in sodium carbonate. This mixture is then filtered and hydrated potassium aluminium sulphate is added. Long-lasting formulas often contain the chemical compound Eosin, which subtly changes colour when it reacts with the skin's proteins and intensifies the blue tones of a red lipstick.

Health concerns

Is your lipstick safe to use? In recent years, concerns have been raised about traces of heavy metal in lipsticks. A study by the University of California, Berkeley, revealed 32 brands of lipstick contained trace amounts of manganese, lead, chromium and aluminium, although these quantities were thought to be safe. Many companies have started ensuring that their lipsticks are lead-free. It's also important to check whether or not your brand of choice tests on animals. Many brands claim that they don't, when they are in fact part of a larger group who do test ingredients on animals - so be wary.

The takeaway

You can't really be sure of what chemicals you are ingesting when wearing lipsticks from the high street, and as each brand has its own formulations, it might be best to stick to naturally formulated lipsticks or balms from organic, natural skincare brands. If you have to have that new shade of red lippie, try just wearing it occasionally!

READ THIS NEXT: Are your skincare products damaging your health?

Author By Paula Beaton
Date On 19th Nov 2015 at 16:16

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