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?
|Cosmetic use||Natural ingredients||Benefits|
|antibacterial, aromatic, flavourful
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
|moisturizing; from Brazilian wax palm trees
keeps lips supple
used as a thickening agent
|Cosmetic use||Harmful ingredients||Negative effects|
|preservatives||parabens, including methylparaben and propylparaben||linked to breast cancer|
lake dyes, including red no. 21, red no. 27, orange no. 17
contain coal tar; common allergens; carcinogenic
|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.