The Which girl does not like lipstick? While I have not particularly used much lipstick myself, I have always loved lip gloss. I prefer the lightness of a gloss to the tenacity of lipstick. As my exploration of cosmetics unfolded, I attempted to make lip gloss, then lipstick. After a series of tweaks, I now have a gloss that I'm happy with. Moving on to lipstick was a bit more complicated as it requires more ingredients. Lipsticks are usually a combination of oils and waxes. Oils are liquids at room temperature, waxes are solids at room temperature with characteristic melting points. You heat the oils and a blend of waxes to create the lipstick base and then add substances to get the color.
After plenty of research and a few trials, I was able to create a base that was neither too hard nor soft using castor and sesame oils for the oil phase and a mixture of beeswax, carnauba wax, candelilla wax, and shea butter for the wax or solid phase. The next step was to blend my colors.
There are a few things used to give color to lipsticks. Some of the common colorants are iron oxides that come in red, brown, yellow, and black, micas that come in a wide variety of colors, and titanium dioxide and zinc oxide that are used to give lipsticks a matte finish. A variety of fillers are also used to give lipsticks a certain feel and/or look such as talc, bismuth oxychloride, kaolin clay etc.
I was able to create a variety of pinks and purples using iron oxides and micas. However, I was never able to generate a true red. So I started researching red pigments.
Here are the typical pigments used in a commercial red lipstick such as MAC Russian Red lipstick:
[+/- Mica, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Blue 1 Lake (CI 42090), Carmine (CI 75470), Red 6 (CI 15850), Red 6 Lake (CI 15850), Red 7 Lake (CI 15850), Red 21 Lake (CI 45380), Red 28 Lake (CI 45410), Red 30 Lake (CI 73360), Red 33 Lake (CI 17200), Yellow 5 Lake (CI 19140), Yellow 6 Lake (CI 15985), Yellow 10 Lake (CI 47005)].
So you see that in addition to using iron oxides, this lipstick has a whole bunch of "Lake" dyes and somethibng called "carmine". Sorry if I scar you for life - From Wikipedia - "Carmine may be prepared from cochineal, by boiling dried insects in water to extract the carminic acid and then treating the clear solution with alum. Other common substances such as cream of tartar, stannous chloride, or potassium hydrogen oxalate can also be used to effect the precipitation, but aluminum is needed for the color. Use of these chemicals causes the coloring and animal matters present in the liquid to be precipitated to give a lake pigment. Aluminum from the alum gives the traditional crimson color to carminic acid precipitates, which are called "carmine lakes" or "crimson lakes"." Ewww Ewww Ewww.
What are lake dyes? These are organic pigments made by precipitating a dye with a metallic salt - usually Aluminum. Carmine is a Lake dyes as described above. While I have not done in depth research into the safety of lake pigments, the carmine was enough to not consider any organic dyes (here organic is chemistry related - a substance made of carbon and hydrogen atoms).
What about the rest of the ingredients in the MAC lipstick:
Octyldodecanol, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Silica, Tricaprylyl Citrate, Ozokerite, Isononyl Isononanoate, Paraffin, Phenyl Trimethicone, Microcrystalline Wax/Cera Microcristallina/Cire Microcristalline, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax/Cera Carnauba/Cire De Carnauba, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Tocopherol, Vanillin, Acrylates Copolymer, Polyethylene Terephthalate, Stearyl Stearoyl Stearate
The predominant ingredient - octyldodecanol - is a fatty alcohol that is an emollient possibly used to give a certain feel to the lipstick. Similar function possibly as isononyl isononanoate - an ester that is an emollient. Then there are the oils and waxes - Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Ozokerite, Microcrystalline Wax/Cera Microcristallina/Cire Microcristalline. The adhesives - Acrylates Copolymer, Polyethylene Terephthalate. These are used to seal the lipstick on the lips for lasting effect. These are also used in nail polishes (!) Silica is used to give it a matte look. Stearyl Stearoyl Stearate is a viscosity enhancer - contributes to texture.
Phew - that's a lot of stuff in lipstick!!!
what about lead? Here's a really good article on the subject. In short, lead comes from the earth and is part of the raw material used to make pigments. There is no lead free pigment and the only way to avoid lead exposure is to avoid colored makeup. Keep in mind that even FDA approved cosmetic and food coloring can be contaminated with lead and other heavy metals, albeit at low concentrations. Next time you eat M&Ms or wear lipstick, think again.
I am a bit torn about making lipstick. It has always been my philosophy that cosmetics should be as simple as possible, no living things must be hurt to make us look beautiful. So no carmine. Also no questionable stuff - means lake pigments and adhesive polymers (gross) are out. So this means long lasting red lipstick is out - I will make my peace with that. But I am not at peace with lead ... and the fact that I love mineral makeup. The point of this long story is to help educate you on some facts on what lipstick is made of so you can make comfortable decisions about what you put on your lips!