Lipstick Facts

May 4, 2012 by Suranee  
Published in Makeup

Learn about the origins of lipstick, ingredients that go into making it, types of lipsticks sold and how to wear lipstick.

Lipstick has been used by women since ancient times.

The women of ancient Mesopotamia would apply powdered gemstones to decorate their lips. 

Queen Cleopatra would color her lips by applying beeswax which had been mixed with crushed red ants and carmine beetles. It was from the carmine beetles Cleopatra got the red pigment needed to bring out the color of the lipstick.

By the 16th century wearing lipstick became a fashionable trend in Europe and was made by mixing beeswax with the red dye of plants.

It was the norm to make one’s lipstick at home but this all changed in 1870 when the first ‘commercial lipstick’ was launched in France by Guerlain.  The wax lipstick was named ‘Ne m’oubliez pas’ (Forget me not) and encased in a ‘gold plated tube.’

Today Guerlain is one of the world’s famous perfume and cosmetic companies producing some of the finest perfumes and lipsticks.

Ingredients found in Lipstick are:


Beeswax, carnauba wax and candelilla wax are some of the varieties of waxes used in making lipstick. Wax is added to soften the lipstick and make it easy to apply.

  • Beeswax is taken from bee honeycombs.
  • Carnauba wax is taken from the leaves of the ‘Brazilian wax palm trees.’
  • Candelilla wax is extracted from the candelilla plant. The plant is soaked in boiling water which has sulfuric acid added to it and the wax from the plant rises to the surface of the water.


Olive oil, mineral oil, castor oil, cocoa butter, lanolin, and petrolatum are some of the oils found in lipstick.

Many lipsticks now have additional oils such as vitamin E, aloe vera, collagen, amino acids, and sunscreen added to it.

This helps protect the lips from the sun and keeps it moist and soft.


Pigments are used to give color to lipstick. Lipsticks get its color from D&C and FD&C dyes which are made from artificial pigments.

Lipsticks contain traces of lead and tests done by the FDA found small amounts of lead are not harmful.

According to FDA, D&C colors should contain no more than ‘20 ppm [parts per million] of lead’ whereas FD&C dyes not more than ‘10 ppm’.

A few popular dyes used in lipsticks are:

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