Formulating Lipstick Is Not Easy


Timea Sulenta – an Austrian cosmetic formulator has written a very informative article in the latest edition of the Personal Care magazine about the difficulties of formulating lipsticks.  Because formulating lipstick is not easy. For something so every day they are surprisingly complicated.  A lot of it is mainly of interest to beakerheads, but I thought lipstick users might be interested in some of the problems people have coming up with them.

Sweating – lipsticks are basically a blend of wax, oil and pigment.  The trick is to get the blend just right, but overdo the oil and over time it will migrate out of the stick to give an unpleasant greasy feel to the lipstick.

Colour fading – pigments don’t generally fade in light the way fabrics and printing inks do.  And in any case lipstick doesn’t often spend much time in direct sunlight.  But the individual grains of the pigment can agglomerate together which has the effect of reducing the colour intensity.  Lipstick formulators need to be very aware of this and make sure that the colour they have created remains stable.

Wax crystallisation – this is a problem lipstick shares with chocolate.  The waxes used in lipstick and the butters used in chocolate both have a tendency to form crystals.  These aren’t the huge crystals you see with materials like sugar and salt, but they are enough for the sensitive skin of the lips to detect and to detract from the smooth experience we all want.

Hopefully you will never have first hand experience of any of these problems.  But this is only because of the care and diligence of the men and women in the labs who devote a great deal of care to making sure everything runs smoothly -literally.

You can read the original article here if you register.

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