What Is Lipstick Made Of?

What Is Lipstick Made Of featured photo

Lipsticks are by far my favorite makeup product in the world and I never leave the house without it. But as I dive deep into my interests on everything beauty and skincare, I realized I should be aware and wary of what’s inside the products I use, including my favorite lipsticks.

Lipsticks are made of eight common components: waxes, oils and fats, pigments and colorants, fragrances and perfumes, emollients and moisturizers, preservatives and antioxidants, alcohol, and sunscreen.

Modern lipsticks come in many variations. There are glossy lipstick and matte lipstick, liquid lipstick and solid lipstick, among others. These variations call for a variety of formulas, ingredients, and mixtures.

In today’s article, we will be exploring what exactly is inside a lipstick, ingredients to look for and ones to avoid, and how you can wear your favorite lipstick better.

Lipsticks: A Brief History

Lipstick is probably one of the most famous and one of the most worn cosmetics in the world. You can find both men and women adorning their lips with this little tube of cosmetics.

Lipsticks are a tube of lip color that is hard enough it doesn’t break into smaller pieces and into a pool of nothingness when you use some force to apply it. But they’re also soft enough to glide smoothly and apply easily on lips once contact is made.

So, where and how did lipsticks come to be what they are now?

Lipsticks find its origin about 5,000 years ago when Sumerian men and women started practicing staining their lips by mixing oils and waxes with crushed gemstones and fruit pigments.

The ancient Egyptians, including Cleopatra, were also known to adorn their lips with a shade of red, a way to indicate social status back then. They made theirs by crushing cochineal beetles that give off the beautiful red pigment.

For years, lipstick has always been a DIY cosmetics, until Arab Andalusian chemist and cosmetologist Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi. He is widely credited as the inventor of the first solid lipsticks we know of today.

Since then, lipsticks have gone under many innovations and modernizations that make them a staple in the beauty and cosmetics world.

Today’s modern lipsticks don’t only come in stick or tube form. Some of the best ones also come in liquid form and are applied with a wand and brush applicator.

Modern lipsticks come in a variety of colors and finishes – and the choice doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon.

What Is Lipstick Made Of?

Modern lipsticks have gone through numerous and countless innovations. The modern times call for the advancement of manufacturing techniques – recipe, ingredient, and packaging-wise.

Today’s best-selling tubes of lipsticks have come a long way since people started adorning their lips with various colors for whatever reason.

Modern lipsticks come in different forms, colors, and finishes. This wide variety calls for different formulas, components, and ingredients. Though it’s generally true that all lipsticks have different formulas and ingredients used, it’s safe to say all lipsticks have the same basic components that make them a lipstick:

  1. Waxes

Waxes in lipsticks are what is called structuring agents. This lipstick component gives lipsticks the structure and shape we all know too well today. Wax is responsible for stabilizing the lipstick structure and allows it to be molded into shape.

Lipsticks can’t break and have to hold their solid structure once applied on the lips with some pressure. Wax helps with that.

Most lipsticks have a combination of any four different types of waxes: beeswax, paraffin, candelilla, and carnauba wax.

  1. Oils and fats

Oils and fats are a very important component in lipstick mixtures. While the waxes harden the lipsticks so it maintains its shape and doesn’t break, oils and fats are what soften the lipsticks.

Lipsticks need to be hard and solid, yes, but they have to be soft enough to glide and apply smoothly on the lips without too much dragging and hurting doing so.

Oils and fats are hydrophobic and repel water. This makes them less likely to be washed off when you drink with lipstick on. This also helps lipsticks stay on longer even if you talk or lick your lips.

Oil components in lipsticks also give them the classic shiny and glossy finish. Lipsticks that are matte or less glossy in finish have less oil than those with a glossy and shiny finish.

Less oil component means they stay on longer but at the same time would also entail they’re harder, drier, and more difficult to glide and apply on lips.

The most common oils used in lipsticks are castor oil, lanolin, olive oil, and coconut oil.

  1. Pigments and colorants

Lipsticks are available in a wide variety of colors and shades. From light and subtle to dark and bold, lipstick manufacturers ensure your choice is endless. This is what sets lipsticks apart.

Lipsticks get their unique colors from dyes and colorants. These pigments can be naturally-derived from plants, animals, and minerals or as a result of a combination of synthetic and artificial dyes.

Lipsticks on the market also come with different finishes – from glossy, shimmer, natural, and matte. Additional ingredients cause these finishing effects.

For that shiny and shimmery finish, mica or pearl is usually used. For matte lipsticks, you can usually see clay or isododecane in its list of ingredients.

  1. Fragrances and perfumes

Lipstick ingredients have their own set of scents and smell. Mixing them all up together can lead to one big unpleasant scent. To mask and hide this, manufacturers often include fragrance and perfume components.

  1. Emollients and moisturizers

Lipsticks are usually worn for long periods of time and they’re one of the most (if not the most) often reapplied makeup throughout the day.

To keep your lips moisturized, hydrated, and soft, various emollients and moisturizers are added into the lipstick mix. These can include shea butter, cocoa butter, aloe vera, and vitamin E.

  1. Preservatives and antioxidants

Lipsticks don’t have a shelf life of forever. They will go bad and expire at a specific time. Preservatives and antioxidants, though they don’t keep them fresh forever, prolong a lipstick’s life.

These are added to keep lipsticks fresh longer so you can enjoy them even longer than you would without.

  1. Alcohol

Alcohol is another essential lipstick component. This works as a solvent to dissolve and dilute the oil and wax components smoothly into the mixture.

  1. Sunscreen

Sunscreen is an additive ingredient that may be present in some lipsticks but absent in others. This component works to protect the lips from the sun’s harmful UV rays all the while providing some beautiful color.

The Best Lipstick Ingredients to Look For

You want your lips to look the best when wearing lipstick. Because lipsticks are packed with a variety of ingredients, it can be confusing to determine which ones are good for you. To help you out, read on for our guide of the best lipstick ingredients below:

Beeswax, candelilla, carnauba wax

In general, different types of waxes in lipstick helps hold and bind all the components together. Wax is what gives lipsticks their well-known stick structure. Without wax, the stick will break once you use some force with it to apply.

Some of the best wax components to look for are beeswax, paraffin, candelilla, and carnauba wax.

Shea butter and cocoa butter

Shea butter is a great source of moisture and hydration for your lips. It works best at healing and nourishing dry, chapped lips. It does all these with a lightweight and comfortable texture and finish.

Cocoa butter is another great source of hydration for the lips. This works by creating a protective barrier on your lips to lock in moisture.

Aloe vera and vitamin E

Aloe vera is known to give lips much-needed nutrients and moisture. It’s also known to fight infections and is anti-inflammatory to fight against irritation. Used in lipsticks, aloe vera helps protect and restore lips from damage.

Vitamin E, on the other hand, is a fan-favorite for its moisturizing and soothing properties it can offer the lips. It’s best to use it as relief for dry, chapped lips.

Castor and lanolin oil

Both castor and lanolin oils are very effective moisturizing ingredients that leave lips soft. When used as a lipstick ingredient, both offer relief to very dry and chapped lips.

Steer Clear From These Harmful Lipstick Ingredients

If there are good lipstick ingredients you want in your lipstick, there are also bad ones you want to steer clear from.

You talk, you lick your lips, and you eat and drink with lipstick on, and it’s possible you are ingesting a good amount of the lipstick you wear.

For this very reason, you don’t want any harmful ingredients in your lipstick you’re also potentially ingesting.

Mineral oil

It may not be the case for everyone but mineral oil can cause allergic reactions and rashes once it makes contact with the skin. If you’re someone with especially sensitive skin, it would be best to steer clear of mineral oil.


Many lipsticks from major brands have lead in them. Lead is very toxic to humans and can lead to a variety of health concerns.

Coal tar

Many lipstick brands use coal tar dyes as colorants and pigments for their products. However, coal tar can cause headaches, skin allergies and irritation, and even nausea.

Choosing the Right Lipstick For Your Lips

There’s no right or wrong way to buy your lipstick. It all depends on your personal preference.

Some prioritize lipstick shade and finish. While for some, the lipstick’s ingredients and how they were sourced take the top priority spot.

Some don’t mind a few chemicals and artificial ingredients here and there combined with some other natural ingredients, while some like to opt for organic and natural lipsticks. There are also vegan options to consider.

What you need to remember is to get a lipstick that works for you, your lifestyle, and your needs.

Sometimes staying power isn’t great when you get lipstick on your clothes, but things happen. If this happens to you, learn how to get it out.

Wear Your Lipstick Shades Better

Applying lipstick might seem like a straightforward thing to do – it is, don’t get us wrong, but we have below a few tips and tricks to apply lipstick the best way:

  • Prep the lips by exfoliating and hydrating with lip balms before lipstick application.
  • Use lip liners to trace and fill before lipstick for precise lines and longer-lasting wear.
  • Apply from the center going outwards.
  • Apply a line of concealer around the lips to prevent bleeding and smudging.


Lipsticks are a staple and common makeup product in many people’s makeup bags. It’s a great way to finish off your outfit and take it up a whole new level.

While lipsticks are such a staple and common product, do we know what that little tube of lip product is made of? Lipsticks are made of eight basic components: waxes, oils and fats, pigments and colorants, fragrances and perfumes, emollients and moisturizers, preservatives and antioxidants, alcohol, and sometimes sunscreen.

To get the most out of your lipstick, it’d be best to know what’s inside. If you have any questions left unanswered, hit us up right below!

Michelle Jackson
Michelle Jackson