Over the last thousand years, lipstick manufacturing techniques advanced tenfold over the simple and ineffective recipes that were used in medieval Europe, ancient civilizations and prehistoric times. Even though lipstick was one (if not THE one) of the first cosmetic products to be used by humankind, it received substantial improvements over the ages. However, the reason for its use remained the same – humankind (especially the female population) always needed a way to distinguish themselves in the crowd, decorate their faces for various rituals and occasions, make themselves more beautiful, and of course protect their lips from the harmful elements such as sun, wind and dry air.
We come a long way from prehistoric times when colored berries were the only source of lip decoration. Now, modern-day industry has produced a standardized set of ingredients that are used in all modern brands. One brand may differ from another with some additional substances, but let’s cover the main ingredients first.
Common Lipstick Ingredients
- Wax – The main ingredient of every lipstick is wax, which gives the lipstick base that is easily applied to the lips. The most commonly used types are beeswax, candelilla and carnauba wax. The last of them, carnauba wax, is extracted from the leaves of the Brazilian wax trees, making it more expensive than the first two types.
- Oil – More than 60% of the lipstick weight is reserved for the very important oils. The most commonly used types are vegetable oil, castor oil, lanolin oil, mineral oil and even cocoa butter.
- Pigment – Lipsticks come in an incredible variety of colors, and pigments are the substance that allows them to gain every shade of color imaginable. Women have an incredible preference for even subtle color shades, which is forcing manufacturers to produce lipsticks in a wide variety of colors.
- Preservatives and antioxidants – Lipsticks are not products that can be used for extremely long periods of time. They have ingredients that degrade over time, and the right mixture of preservatives and antioxidants can play a big role in prolonging of their shelf life. One useful tactic for prolonging their life is refrigeration. If you want to use your lipsticks for a long time, store them in your refrigerator!
- Alcohol – This ingredient is used as a solvent for the wax and oils.
- Fragrance – Oils, waxes, pigments, and other ingredients that are present in the lipstick can sometimes emit their own smell, so many manufacturers add a little fragrance to make it pleasant to the nose.
- Many lipstick brands use lead as one of their ingredients. Even though lead can be very harmful if ingested, regularity bodies of many countries limit the use of this element with strict rules.
- Harmful pigments Some pigments can be derived from coal tar, which is a toxic mixture that can cause nausea, headaches, skin irritation and attention deficit if ingested. Another pigment called Carmine can cause skin irritation.