Lipstick ingredients: What’s really in your lipstick?
Lipstick is most girls’ favourite cosmetic product and nearly every lady owns several different shades, but have you ever considered what is actually in lipstick? You would check the ingredients on food packaging and you would never buy food that contains poisons, dead insects, and more artificial preservatives than you could list on the side of a lipstick tube, but that is exactly what you will find in some lipsticks. The ingredients of lipstick are easily absorbed into the body through the lips and, according to some statistics, the average woman will ingest five pounds of lipstick into their body every year. So, let’s take a look at some lipstick ingredients that could be found in the lip product that you are wearing today.
1. It’s not all bad news!
We all love our lipstick and we don’t want you to go and throw all your lipsticks straight in the garbage! Most of what lipstick contains is perfectly harmless and the main ingredient of most lipsticks is nothing more offensive than castor oil, beeswax and other waxes, which usually account for about 90% of the ingredients. Some of the other ingredients however, are toxic, so you might want to consider going easy on the lipstick when you’ve read more about what might be in it.
2. Squished bugs
The pigment that is used in red lipsticks is usually made from crushed bugs; the cochineal bug, to be more precise. Cochineal bugs, which live on cacti, are boiled in a sodium carbonate solution or boiled in ammonia, which brings out the red in them. They are then dried into a powder and added to your lipstick.
3. Fish scales
Lipsticks that have a shimmer, often get that shimmer from such lipstick ingredients as the scales of fish. You’d have thought by now that science would have come up with synthetic alternatives to fish scales and crushed bugs, but scientists have yet to find a cost effective way to recreate the deep red of a cochineal bug and the delicate shimmer of a fish scale.
Even though the use of lead in lipsticks was banned many years ago, there is still lead to be found in many lipsticks. Lead is known to stay in the body once consumed and it can lead to neurological problems. The lead isn’t added to lipstick deliberately, it comes with other ingredients that are used. It is still a concern, though, because in one study conducted in 2009, every single lipstick that was tested did contain traces of lead.
5. Chilli powder
Another one of commonly used lipstick ingredients is chill powder. Lip plumping lipsticks often contain capsaicin, which is the compound found in chillies and hot peppers that creates the hot, burning sensation when you eat them. Capsaicin is not dangerous, but it acts as a mild skin irritant and it makes your skin swell, which is what creates the plumper lips.
Methylparaben is a preservative that has been banned for use in cosmetics in many European countries, but is still present in lipstick ingredients in some other countries. Methylparaben can be absorbed by the skin very easily and it has been linked with cancer and it may also be disruptive to the endocrine system.
Propylparaben, which is a member of the paraben family of preservatives, is often used in lipsticks and other cosmetics. Parabens are thought to be able to disrupt the hormonal system and Propylparaben, in particular, can irritate the skin and cause allergic reactions.
8. Tocopherol Acetate
Tocopherol Acetate is used in cosmetics as an alternative to natural Vitamin E, because it is cheaper and it lasts for longer. Tocopherol Acetate is rated as only a moderate hazard, but it has been known to cause irritation to the skin and, in some cases, blistering.
9. Retinyl Palmitate
Retinyl Palmitate is another one of synthesised lipstick ingredients that is used as a replacement for Vitamin A. Although this is one is also only rated as being moderately hazardous, some medical experts believe that it may cause cancer and sterility in women.
10. Should we stop wearing lipstick?
If you were to look closely enough you could find traces of dangerous chemicals in just about anything and like all thing things in life, moderation is the key. Unless you intend to start eating your lipstick for lunch, then the levels of the dangerous chemicals in most lipsticks are too low to be of any real concern. If you are concerned about what is really in your lipstick, though, you can buy organic or ‘clean’ lipsticks that do not use any of these potentially harmful chemicals.
Stay beautiful and healthy!