In the making: lipstick

Have you ever wondered what you are actually putting on your lips? Which ingredients you are including in your daily routine and how your lipstick was put together? Well, we have, so we’ve done our research to provide the answers.

Overhead view of lipsticks

Overhead view of lipsticks

“Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together”

– Hollywood actress, Elizabeth Taylor

The many uses of lipstick

From adding shine to a makeup look, to making the lips look fuller, there are many reasons why we choose to add lipstick to our makeup routine. Not to mention the fact that it is so easy to use and can completely change a makeup look, for the better.


With a larger demand than ever, for different looks, there is now so much choice. From liquid lipsticks, satin, matte and now even metallic finishes (thanks to Kylie Jenner), it’s surprising if we can ever choose our ideal lipstick product.

Keeping up with the popular desire for a fuller and more noticeable pout, makeup brands have now even come up with ‘lip plumping’ products. Whether they actually do what they say on the tin, is a whole other story.


Regardless however, of how far the industry is developing and expanding, our original twisting tube lipstick with its basic formula still remains. Fortunately for those, who still prefer a more straightforward makeup routine.

So how and when did lipstick come about?

The history of the lipstick goes all the way back to the prehistoric periods, when natural fruit juices and plant sources were used. Later than this, when becoming slightly more advanced, Ancient Mesopotamian women would cover their lips in crushed gemstones to add a pop of colour and dimension.

Red and royal – a whole while later, in the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth I ruled the thrown with her pasty white face, whilst wearing a contrasting brightly painted red lip.


But despite the products previous history, we have the film industry to mostly thank for the rise in the popularity of lipstick. As late 1800 actresses wore bright red lipstick to darken their natural lip colour. Allowing them to stand out more in black and white films.

Also, Hollywood stars in the 1950’s such as Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor showed society that embracing a bold lip was not just daring, but a sexy addition to any outfit.


So you’re now probably wondering when our favourite nude shades came into play…

Well, thanks to the 60’s-70’s mod era, pastel and nude shades became more popular, eventually coming into the mainstream. In contrast to the Punk movement, who helped to introduce our makeup set to the fearless black and purple hues.

Now, in 2016, lipstick is one of the most important cosmetic products. With many celebs, such as Taylor Swift and Rita Ora, taking it on as their trademark style. Which they now almost never go without.

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Musician Taylor Swift attends the "Charles James: Beyond Fashion" Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 5, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

Musician Taylor Swift attends the “Charles James: Beyond Fashion” Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 5, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

How is our handbag-essential actually made?

Whilst it’s not easy to always find the perfect shade for our skin tone, it’s also not easy for the manufacturers to create for us, a viable formula. And after taking many recipes to find the perfect combination, our lipsticks tend to mainly contain pigments, waxes, oils and emollients.


Our products may also contain castor oil and fish scales, to allow them to have a smear-free shiny top layer. And for perfect protection, many will also include amino acids, Aloe Vera, Vitamin E, and sunscreen within them. Who knew there was so much more to them than just a colour!?


Some brands, sadly, as we know, test their ingredients on animals. It is said that these include L’Oréal, Estee Lauder and MAC makeup. Some brands however, do not, including Nars, NYX, Urban Decay and Bare Minerals.

Although there may be other smaller differences between the manufacturing of various lipstick brands, whether they are drugstore or high end, many of them share the same processes.


This video of the making of lipsticks shows us how these 5 main stages are carried out!

Step 1. A vegetable base is mixed with the pigment to make the formula

Step 2. Multiple shades are melted to make new colours

Step 3. The formula is poured into a metal mold

Step 4. The mold is placed into the freezer for 15 minutes

Step 5. The mold is opened and the product is inserted into the tube

… And there’s your new lipstick, ready to wear!

What are your favourite lipstick brands? And what are your favourite shades to wear?

Text: Lizzie Moxom

Images: Marie Claire, Fashion world magazine, YouTube, Allure

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