Pucker Up


Pucker Up

Beauty-essential lipsticks contain five types of ingredients: emollients that prevent moisture loss and soften the lips; pigments; preservatives; antiseptics; and emulsifiers that hold these other ingredients together.

But these ingredients vary from healthy to toxic depending on the quality of the product.

Be wary of preservatives, emollients, solvents, and pigments in drugstore lipsticks. Some may cause irritation for women with sensitive skin. Others can cause a phototoxic reaction, leading to ultraviolet (UV) sensitivity and intense sunburns. Many colouring agents and preservatives are known to be carcinogenic.

Instead, reach for natural lipsticks, which contain herbal antiseptics, vitamin-rich preservatives, seed-based oils, and tantalizing nontoxic colours. Why would you choose anything else?

Natural Lipsticks

Cosmetic use Natural ingredients Benefits

rosemary leaf
sesame oil
shea butter

antibacterial, aromatic, flavourful
prevents contamination
anti-inflammatory, fragrant
antioxidant, stabilizing
curative, moisturizing
prevents chapped lips
preservatives vitamin E antioxidant; best in combination with other antioxidants such as vitamin C and green tea
pigments carmine (derived from dried red cochineal beetles)
minerals, including iron oxide, ultramarine blue, manganese violet

gives a rich red colour

anti-inflammatory; mineral flecks diffuse light and smooth fine lines


carnauba wax

castor oil
cocoa butter
coconut oil

moisturizing; from Brazilian wax palm trees
keeps lips supple
used as a thickening agent

Drugstore Lipsticks

Cosmetic use Harmful ingredients Negative effects
preservatives parabens, including methylparaben and propylparaben linked to breast cancer
pigments bromo acid
lake dyes, including red no. 21, red no. 27, orange no. 17
causes dermatitis
contain coal tar; common allergens; carcinogenic
emollients hydrocarbons
mineral oil
pollutants; detrimental to marine life
phototoxic contains impurities that may
contribute to acne, cancer, and
other significant health problems
solvents glycols, including propylene glycol skin irritant; inhibits skin cell

Research Your Lipstick?

Find out if your favourite lipstick contains harmful chemicals. Search product names in the Skin Deep database on the Environmental Working Group website at ewg.org/reports/skindeep2.


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