Throughout the centuries, humans have used makeup to enhance their natural beauty. With advancements in technology and science, cosmetics have jumped from simple food and animal ingredients to using synthetic materials to improve cosmetic performance.
As in many cases, demand for good cosmetic products has resulted in many small companies developing into multi-billion dollar businesses. We already know the big cosmetic industry uses some questionable practices in making these products. For years, many of these cosmetic giants have used animals for testing their products, but many animal welfare groups have protested against animal testing. And because of the pressure and wide media coverage, some cosmetic companies have stopped using animals for testing cosmetic products.
Although many cosmetic companies have stopped animal testing, the ingredients they use are synthetic and are deemed toxic to the human body. Yet, we still buy these products. Why?
A Bit of Lipstick History
For thousands of years, lipsticks were made only from readily available and natural resources, fruit extracts, plant juices and some animal by-products. When many civilisations started to grow in the Middle East, North Africa and India, advanced manufacturing processes enabled people to finally develop more popular types of makeup similar to what we use today.
Mesopotamian women ground gems and used the dust to decorate their lips with a glimmer and other forms of riches, but it was in Ancient Egypt where lipstick manufacturing made many advancements.
When Egypt was able to spread the lipstick innovations across Europe, lipstick managed to find its place with Greek actors and the Roman Empire. When Christianity took hold of Europe, the Church condemned the use of cosmetics and often connected wearing red lipstick to Satan worship, which we would now think is ridiculous.
After that, the lipstick resurgence happened in the 16th century, which was dictated by the fashion changes of the English Queen Elizabeth I. Her style of having white faces and deeply painted lips was popular for some time, but quickly fell with a society where it was used only by prostitutes and low-class women.
This trend continued for several centuries until the Industrial revolution of the late 19th century. It brought back the popularity of commercial lipsticks into fashion. With more advancements and ease of manufacturing, low prices, the popularity of photography and movies. Lipsticks became more common in the 20th century. From then on, manufacturers and other innovators managed to create a modern swivel-up tube, chemists have created glossy varieties and fashion started dictating the many popular lipstick colour and trends.
In current society, lipstick is viewed as one of the most important fashion trends. Hundreds of lipstick brands battle for worldwide leadership and inventions of new styles and recipes have led us to the point where 80% of women in Australia use lipstick regularly.
In many civilisations, it has implemented complex rituals and traditions surrounding lipstick. In some countries, lipstick is a necessity because of its medicinal and protective purposes like protecting the lips in dry and windy conditions, sun protection and others. In many cases, it became part of life.
Possible Toxic Ingredients in Modern-day Lipsticks
Many beauty products on the market today contain ingredients not tested by a federal agency. The cosmetic industry currently operates under a code of conduct that appears to have many loopholes and if people knew more about them, they would not choose to apply it to their skin. Click here to check on the study made by the FDA about lipsticks containing lead.
Most lipsticks contain the same basic ingredients: wax, oil, fragrance, colour, preservatives and antioxidants.
Some toxic ingredients in lipsticks may include:
This is listed as an ingredient in fertiliser and it’s also used in automotive coolants or antifreeze. Petroleum-based PG is linked to many fertility and development issues. It can also irritate the skin and eyes.
Mineral oil is a petroleum-based ingredient. This oil acts as a second nonporous skin and blocks the real skin pores which can interfere with skin cell development and proper functioning. It’s also possible that it contains Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons or PAHs which are carcinogens. It’s also may be linked to kidney function issues.
Sometimes found in red lipsticks, lead is a toxin that can cause serious health problems. This element is dangerous to pregnant women and children under the age of six years old. Health problems are linked to lead ingestion.
Coal tar is commonly used in treating several skin conditions but is considered a high hazard substance by the Environmental Working Group, which has presented research results on different cosmetic ingredients. The group considers coal tar as a carcinogen linked to allergy, skin irritations and fertility issues.
Parabens are the most widely used preservative in cosmetics. The European Commission list parabens as Category 1 priority substance because of evidence that they interfere with hormone functions. It can mimic estrogen and has been detected in human breast cancer tissues. It also interferes with reproduction, the nervous system and the immune system.
Now, a number of cosmetic manufacturers are now offering lipsticks and other makeups that are completely free of synthetic ingredients, which lowers the risk of health problems.
Non-toxic Lipstick Made From Food
Although the beauty and personal care industry are dominated by well-established multinational brands, the industry is seeing demand for niche and boutique players, typically focused on natural products, which has been delivering significant growth since 2016.
Natural beauty products are usually made of a mix of active foods that feed one’s skin with essential nutrients. They are meant to rehydrate, provide antioxidants and prevent inflammation while actively contributing to one’s health and wellbeing.
Natural beauty products including natural lipstick don’t use toxic ingredients that are known endocrine disruptors or are linked to cancer. It also doesn’t use preservatives, petrochemicals, phthalates, synthetic food colours or any synthetic ingredients or fragrance.
One example of a natural beauty product is “Lip Nourish” by Luk Beautifood. This lipstick is made from healthy and nourishing foods that everyone actually eats like avocado, herbs, fruits, spices and sesame. Also, the natural lipstick contains these food active ingredients:
- Natural anti-inflammatories
- Antioxidants Omega 3, 6 and 9
- Healthy plant-based oils like avocado, castor and sesame oils
- Natural flavour oils that include spices, herbs and citrus
- Mineral pigments
Luk Beautifood’s loyal customers can say that its 100% natural lipstick that does not contain any artificial dyes, artificial flavours, fragrances, no petrochemicals, emollients, silicone, lanolin, lead and glycols as stated by Cindy Luken, owner, founder and MD of Luk. Cindy says “a woman will put on 30 kg of lipstick over her lifetime, so why wouldn’t you want it to be healthy”.
Consumers are becoming more proactive in their choice of brands and purchases, knowing what they want in their beauty products, scrutinising the list of ingredients and moving towards products containing natural or active ingredients.