From vampy plum to pale pink, most women own at least a handful of lipsticks. But few will have considered the ingredients that give them the perfect pout.
Now, one chemistry teacher has revealed the strange components that go into lipstick, including insects, wax and even chilli. A single lipstick contains several hundred different chemical compounds to give it the desired colour, glossiness, and indelibility.
The pigment used in red lipstick is often made from crushed cochineal bugs, which live on cacti. The colour is known as Carmine red – or carminic acid – and is prepared by boiling the insect bodies in ammonia or sodium carbonate solution. Deep red lipsticks and formulas that claim to be long-lasting, often include a chemical compound called eosin. The dye subtly changes colour when it is applied to the lips and produces a lipstick that has a slightly blue tinge.
This reaction also makes the dye longer-lasting than others.
Other pigments and dyes – which only make up five per cent of a lipstick – are used for different colours. Titanium dioxide, which is a white compound, is a common ingredient that is added to dilute red lipsticks and make them pink.
Other compounds can be added in small quantities to make formulas more moisturising or fragrant.
For example, capsaicin – a compound found in chillies – can act as a minor skin irritant, which causes the lips to swell slightly, plumping them up.
Waxes and oils make up the bulk of lipstick’s composition, with waxes crucial to the structure and shape of the lipstick.