Posted on: December 1, 2017 at 4:49 pm
Last updated: June 20, 2018 at 10:22 am

The perfect shade of lipstick can complete an outfit. We all have a drawer full of our favorite colors for every season, and nothing is better than finishing off an ensemble with a color that suits your complexion. But, some of your favorite brands contain chemicals that can cause hormonal issues and increase your risk of disease. Maybe that drawer-full of colors is not so great after all.


All You Need to Know About Your Lipstick


A study, conducted by the EWG, found that more than a quarter of all women in the United States use at least 15 cosmetic products daily, many of which contain known carcinogens that are linked to impaired fertility or developmental harm for a baby in the womb or a child[1].


Understanding where your cosmetics are coming from, and how to avoid the “nasty” ingredients will help you look good, and feel better on a daily basis.

How Lipstick is Made

Ever wondered how it’s actually made or what goes inside? Here’s a quick recap of the most common lipstick manufacturing procedure:

  1. Pigment milling – the desired pigment, or combination of pigments, are mixed together, joined by oil and then ground up into tiny particles. This beginning stage of the process is where the toxic chemicals are combined in order to create the product that you know as lipstick.
  2. Combination of pigment phase into base wax – the ingredients are mixed in a steam-jacketed kettle equipped with a propeller agitator. After mixing, the liquid is then ground again
  3. Molding – molding happens at specific temperatures to eliminate unwanted products of fast-cooling. The lipstick is heated to 80 C and poured into vertical split molds that are kept at a temperature of 35 C
  4. Cooling and Flaming – the resulting lipstick is cooled and extracted from the molds to prepare for flaming, which is the passing of the lipstick over several open flames to melt small layers of gloss (which contains toxic chemicals) around the lipstick. Flaming protects the lipstick from outside air and influences[2]. 


The Ingredients to Avoid in Cosmetics

The law doesn’t require FDA approval before a cosmetic product goes on the market, with the exception of color additives[5]. That means that there are many products in your local pharmacy or supermarket that may contain chemicals that are harmful.


The EWG has created a hazard rating system, with 10 being high toxicity and 1 being mild toxicity. This rating system helps us to see how unsafe the products that we are putting on our skin actually are.

  1. Metals (Lead)

Hazard Level: 10

At this point in time, we all know that metals, especially lead, can be very harmful to us. Despite this, they are still found in commercial lipsticks. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration detected lead in 400 brands of lipstick tested by the agency[4].

“There is no safe level of lead exposure. The biggest concern is for pregnant women – lead is a potent neurotoxin and the fetus and very young children are most at risk. Some companies make lead-free lipsticks, and we think all companies should.”[4] says Jane Houlihan, senior VP for research at Environmental Working Group.

2. Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing products

Hazard Level: 10

Formaldehyde is used as a preserving agent in many cosmetic products. The International Agency for Research on Carcinogens has classified it as a ‘carcinogen to humans’. Formaldehyde can cause toxicity to the internal organs and increases the risk of cancer.

Currently, there is no restriction on levels of formaldehyde allowed in products, no requirement to test products that contain it, and no obligation to notify consumers of its presence[6].

3. Retinyl Acetate (Vitamin A Acetate)

Hazard Level: 9

While getting your vitamins is usually considered a good thing, with this ingredient it is not. Retinyl Acetate is a synthetic vitamin A ingredient with a high developmental and reproductive toxicity. Pregnant women should not be exposed to this product, as it can have serious effects on the mother and baby[7].

4. Fragrance

Hazard Level: 8

The word ‘fragrance’ or ‘perfume’ represents an undisclosed mixture of various scent chemicals. The fragrance has been linked to allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress, and potential effects on the reproductive system[8].

5. Benzyl Benzoate

Hazard Level: 6

Benzyl benzoate is used as a solvent and preservative. It is associated with allergies and dermatitis[9].

Lipstick Brands to Avoid 

The following are all common commercial brands that you may have heard of, or maybe even have in your makeup drawer. They are all listed on the EWG as containing carcinogenic properties.

  1. Maybelline Color Sensational
  2. L’Oreal Colour Riche
  3. CoverGirl Queen Collection Vibrant Hues
  4. NARS Semi-Matte
  5. L’Oreal Intensely Moisturizing Lipcolor
  6. Revlon Matte
  7. CoverGirl Continuous Color
  8. Stargazer Lipstick
  9. Sonia Kashuk Luxury Lip Color
  10. Avon Beyond Color

The Lipstick You Should Wear Instead

Although some of the big cosmetic brands may be a no-no when it comes to safety, there is a way that you can get your lips to look full and bright using much safer products. There are a number of natural lipstick companies that are committed to providing you with the best products for you, that also look great.

Mineral Fusion Lipstick 

This fabulous lipstick brand is natural and smooth. You won’t have a problem finding the perfect color to match your outfit because it comes in a number of beautiful shades.

ZAO Organic Makeup 

If you like a matte-finish look in your lipstick, try ZAO’s organic lipstick as a safe alternative to the commercial brands on the market. We love this product because it comes in a number of stunning shades and a beautiful exterior design.

Earthlab Cosmetics – Vegan Lip Stick Cheeky

If you’re looking for a toxin-free lip liner than this product is for you. This product is also completely vegan, so you can be happy knowing that no animals were harmed in the curation of this product.

Alba Botanica – Hawaiian Clear Lip Gloss Coconut Cream 

If you prefer a simple look, this clear lip gloss may be the best option for you. It’s safe to wear, feels smooth on the lips, and has a wonderful scent without adding chemicals and toxins.

PureFormulas – Dusty Rose Lip Gloss 

If you like having a simple and nourishing product to moisturize your lips without the bright colors, try PureFormulas lip gloss. This product is perfect for anyone who enjoys a subtle look with a little bit of pop.

The Hearty Soul
Health Network
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