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The Lipstick Chronicles Part 3: What Do Lipstick Testers Test?

July 14, 2009

About once or twice a week, I get updates from chemical suppliers telling me all about their fabulous new “cure all” ingredients. This week I received a presentation from a company that makes film formers (the ingredient that makes your product stick on)! Not very interesting I hear you cry! Well that may be so, but included in this propaganda was an outline of how lippy is put through its paces.

So, how do the lipstick testers test lipstick?

1) Ease Of Application

Sounds obvious but if you have ever tried making your own lipstick / lip balm with natural waxes you will know how hard it is to get a product that goes on without ripping your lips off or leaving you looking like the party clown.  A lipstick should neither splat out or involve brute force to apply – it should glide on with elegant ease!

2) Structure of the lipstick

While structure of the lipstick is important when applying it to the lips, it is even more important when storing the lipstick. You would be most distressed if you lipstick ran out all over your designer handbag and I dare say that you wouldn’t be too impressed with an ice block of a lippy when trying to give yourself a touch of colour on the ski-slopes.  Again, it comes down to blending and that is why your lipstick probably has a long ingredients list – some waxes are hard but drying on the lips and others are too soft on their own. Together, they make the perfect product!

Lipsticks are tested under a variety of conditions including their freeze thaw stability, accelerated ageing (stored at 45C for somewhere around 4-6 weeks0 and the windowsill test to see how they react to UV light.

3) Uniformity of Colour on the Lips.

OK so the lipstick glides on nicely – job done? Not quite! The glide bit will be due to the base consistency BUT get the wrong base OR fail to blend it up correctly and your pigment will spread out unevenly leaving your lips looking patchy. The ideal lipstick should enable the spread of an even and uniform colour leaving the lips looking photo shoot fresh!

4) The Feel Factor.

It is no good having a technically ingenious product if it feels rubbish on the lips. The lipstick should be light, not too greasy but not drying.  If the lipstick contains many volatile ingredients (these help to set the colour and dry off immediately), the lips can be left feeling dry. This dry feeling is uncomfortable and does not feel natural – no good for most! If the lipstick feels too wet or greasy, there is a danger that the product will transfer off onto clothing, food or beverage. It may also make the wearer overly conscious of the product, which can be uncomfortable.

5) Gloss and Shine

The gloss provided by a lipstick can be measured in two ways. One, by a panel who will give their opinion on the glossiness of the finish – this may or may not be in relation to a competitor’s product. Otherwise, the lipsticks can be applied as a measured dose to a testing surface and then placed inside a Gloss Meter.  This machine measures the amount of light that is reflected back from a surface – the higher the number, the higher the gloss. The Gloss Meter is also used to measure uniformity of gloss across the whole surface.

6) Colour Intensity

So, the colour may be even, the finish glossy and the feel just gorgeous BUT that is no good if you colour is not quite what you thought it would be.  The colour that the formulator chose in the lab may end up looking very different in the lipstick as the pigments interact with and may be dulled by some of the other ingredients. During lipstick manufacture, colour will be measured at various stages in the process to insure that the colour that the formulator wanted is what the consumer gets. This is measured using something called a spectrometer, which will very accurately identify the shade that has been created and compare that to the standard. This process is also backed up by a visual check.

These tests are all pretty standard and are carried out to ensure that you get the best quality product possible. In addition to these tests manufacturers may choose to test for long wear, transfer resistance, comfort (subjective with a panel) and bleed (again, usually via a panel test and looking at how much the colour runs upon wearing).  It may not be rocket science but it is no walk in the park!

Enjoy your lipstick safe in the knowledge that it has passed boot camp with flying colours!

2 Comments leave one →
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  1. The Lipstick Chronicles Part 4: Addicted to You! « Realize Beauty

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