Lipstick in one form or another has been used in several cultures for thousands of years. Its first known use was by the ancient Sumerian people some 5000 years ago. Today it is as popular as ever and new technology has made it possible for constant improvement of the product. But what exactly goes into making lipstick?
The main ingredients in lipstick are waxes, oils, emollients, and pigments. The manufacturing process also uses fragrances, antioxidants, and preservatives. The base material is the wax, and several types of waxes are used to make lipstick.
Wax is the main component of lipstick and it is the wax that provides its structure . Common waxes used are beeswax, candelilla, ozokerite, and camauba. Beeswax and candelilla tend to be the greater portion of the waxes used in the lipstick and the other waxes like the carnauba and ozokerite add strength and stability.
Oils & Fats
Oils and fats are what gives lipstick the ability to be easily applied, keeping the wax soft enough for it to be spread easily but at the same time working in tandem with the wax to keep it from melting.
The types of oils used are varied. The more commonly used ones are mineral oils, petrolatum, vegetable oils, and lanolin. In some products, you will also find fat derived from the brains and spinal cords of cows – not a very pleasant thought, is it?
Many companies are now offering lipsticks that use healthier alternatives to this by focusing on botanical oils such as olive oil, castor oil, sunflower oil, and jojoba oil. Whatever ingredients they choose to use, manufacturers try to strike the right balance with their oils and fat formulations as it can make their lipstick better than that of their competitors.
Another very important ingredient that affects your lipstick is the emollients – the moisturizing and soothing qualities. Lipsticks can dry your lips, especially the ones that use very little oil in their formulation, like mattes and creams.
Emollients go a far way in keeping your lips moisturized, which also improves how the lipstick looks on you. Cocoa butter, shea butter, Vitamin E, and aloe vera are some of the emollients used.
While we care about what ingredients go into making lipstick, we care far more about how it looks; about how the particular shade that we choose enhances our appearance. This is where the pigments come in – pigment is what give lipstick its color.
Pigments can be both naturally-based, coming from mineral or plant sources, or they can be synthetic. Some products will combine both natural and synthetic pigments to give customers the best possible colors to choose from.
Lipsticks will contain small amounts of fragrance, clearly to give it a nice smell when it is being applied. Other important additives are antioxidants and preservatives which serve to prevent the lipstick from becoming rancid and, at the same time, providing the shelf life of the product.