Let’s talk about lipsticks! Women have been adorning their lips with decorative and colored substances since 2500 BC. Back then women would crush gemstones and apply to their lips. Ouch!This would soon evolve and theEgyptians would crush the shells of beetles to create that red lip made famous by Cleopatra. This pigment is still used in lipsticks today under the name Carmine. Lipstick has been around for what seems to be since the beginning of time and today is still one of the most sought after products for decorative cosmetics, which makes it a highly desirable product to manufacture for any cosmetic line.
So exactly what is a lipstick and what makes it so unique and special? There are three main categories: Satin, Semi-Matte & Matte and the components for manufacturing are simple: Waxes for structure,Oils for moisture, Butters for slip and of course Pigment for color. The market dictates what ingredients are trending in each category from year to year but the basic elements remain the same.
Let’s break down the very basic of elements involved in the lipstick manufacturing process:
The three most common waxes used in creating lipsticks are candelilla, carnauba and beeswax. The most popular wax to use is beeswax, followed by the two plant based waxes. Each one is unique in its characteristics and what it brings to the development process.
Candelilla: This wax creates a film and shine and also enables lipstick to settle while providing the product with extra body.
- It comes in yellow flakes or pastilles but the most common are flaked. It has a characteristic smell that is from the leaves of the candelilla plant.
- This is a natural based ingredient so the smell cannot be control 100%
- This particular wax has a lower melting point of 70◦C which helps to balance the melting point of a harder wax.
Carnuba: This wax gives your lipstick structure
- Comes in yellow flakes
- Also has a characteristic smell that is derived from the plant
- It is a hard wax with the highest melting point of 82◦C
Bees Wax: This wax is the oldest and most tried and true used in a lipstick. It is also the base for candles and other personal care items. It gives creaminess to the lipstick and helps to deposit the product onto the lips. It also aids in protecting the lips and gels together oils, which is why it deposits colors on the lips and creates a balm like texture.
- It comes in white pastilles but if the product is not refined they will be yellow
- This is an animal bi-product but it is important to know that the bees are not harmed when harvesting the wax
- It is the softest wax of all of them used and has the lowest melting point of all between 62◦C and 64◦C.
Every lipstick must have three different kinds of wax from each melting point category of low-medium-high to create the most stable and functional lipstick. This part of the manufacturing process involves a touch of alchemy as the different wax types and heat levels are combined to create the many varieties of lipstick that you see on the market today.
The oils in a lipstick help balance out the rigid feel of a wax. It is important to use heavier oils to hold the waxes together much like a glue. The heavier the oil, the stickier the product but it helps the product stay on longer and they have more protectant properties.
The most commonly used oils to create lipstick are jojoba, lanolin, castor oil and mineral oil. These oils give slip, a light feel and aid in moisturization. Coconut, macadamia and sunflower oil can also be used, but are a little bit heavier. When using these heavier oils, they are usually used by themselves or in combination with the above-mentioned lighter oils.
These are additives that can help with structure and application. They have a melting point that is close to your temperature which is important for slip and application. Some of the most common butters are shea butter or almond butter.
Trends come and go and the market dictates what oils or butters are used during the manufacturing process, but the bottom line is that they all serve the same function.
Pigments are not soluble in anything so we have to disperse them as evenly as possible to create a flawless even look. To reduce particle size we use a triple roller mill and create a blend with oil. This is the ingredient that we use for color matching during the manufacturing process because it is oil dispersed. Pigments migrate when you mix and apply temperature and our goal is to make sure the pigment does not settle. Pigment is entrapped in the crystalline structure of the solidified wax to hold in the pigment’s color for longer lasting wear.
Sounds simple right? While these are the basic concepts there is of course a more delicate balance that needs to be achieved to put together a product that is appealing to the artistic direction of the product development team of any brand and of course is re-creatable when scaling up on the manufacturing side.