A variety of waxes, oils, pigments, and emollients in this product have helped people put on a happy faces for years.
Lipstick in some shape or form has been around for a long time and has always been a part of the fashion statement. History tells us that ancient Egyptians used henna to paint their lips. According to Meg Cohen Ragas and Karen Kozlowski in their book, “Read My Lips: A Cultural History of Lipstick,” a reddish purple mercuric plant dye called fucus–algin, 0.01% iodine, and some bromine mannite–was used for lip rouge. Little did the ancient Egyptians know that it was potentially poisonous–talk about the kiss of death!
Lipstick contains a variety of waxes, oils, pigments, and emollients. The wax gives lipstick its shape and ease of application. Among the waxes are beeswax, a substance obtained from bee honeycombs that consists of esters of straight-chain monohydric alcohols with even-numbered carbon chains from C24 to C36 and straight-chain acids also having even numbers of carbon atoms up to C36. Other waxes include carnauba wax, which is an exudate from the pores of leaves of Brazilian wax palm trees, and candelilla wax, which is obtained from the candelilla plant and is produced in Mexico by immersing the plants in boiling water containing sulfuric acid and skimming off the wax that rises to the surface.
The oils and fats used in lipstick include olive oil, mineral oil, castor oil, cocoa butter, lanolin, and petrolatum. More than 50% of lipsticks manufactured in the U.S. contain substantial amounts of castor oil. It forms a tough, shiny film when it dries after application.
In recent years, ingredients such as moisturizers, vitamin E, aloe vera, collagen, amino acids, and sunscreen have been added to lipstick. The extra components keep lips soft, moist, and protected from the elements.
Visit “What’s That Stuff” to read more about the history and chemistry of lipstick.
Excerpted with permission, Chemical & Engineering News
Copyright © 1999 American Chemical Society